H. Jon Benjamin Is Back for Arby’s, Where All Hell Breaks Loose in the Kitchen

He protects the meats in Fallon's latest

Uh oh. Arby's
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Of late, the ad world and consumers have witnessed various battles royale. Recently, it was all about the chicken sandwich wars with Popeye’s, Chick-fil-A and, perhaps puzzlingly, Boston Market, going tete-a-tete-a-tete. Of course, the storied history of Burger King vs. McDonald’s vs. Wendy’s remains a constant source of chatter.

Meanwhile, one QSR simply keeps on keeping on with its quirky brand of marketing that might not get a spike in attention but is instead a steady hand in the otherwise manic, kneejerk category competitive set: Arby’s.

In September of last year, the brand wisely introduced H. Jon Benjamin, the voice of Archer (and many other animated characters) as its new face, touting the merits of its meats. Since its initial launch, Benjamin and Arby’s remain omnipresent with the actor’s droll delivery anchoring a steady drip of pleasing ads with a lockup that gets into one’s head. Try saying “We have the meats” without adding “for sandwiches” after a short beat. You can’t, can you?

Today, the traditional roast beef purveyor released an equally enjoyable ad for its smoked meats and BBQ sandwiches.

Instead of a linear approach, Fallon, the brand’s agency, went in with a slightly different direction with punchline first, then the explanation … all in a dense and humourous 30-seconds that leverages Benjamin’s unique, deadpan chops.

“This spot shirks the traditional ‘set up and spike’ construct in favor of ‘spike, set up, spike once more time for good measure,’” said Rick Utzinger, Fallon’s executive creative director. “Instead of just saying the sandwich is smoky, we decided to show it in a memorable way.”

Most people may have an inkling as to what’s afoot once they know that we’re talking about smoked meats, but that doesn’t get in the way of the surprise and, ultimately, Benjamin’s frantic attempts to save his beloved sandwiches from a water-logged fate.

“On the set, creative director Charlie Wolff along with directors Adam & Dave went all out on wreaking havoc in the test kitchen and H. John Benjamin, well, he acted accordingly,” added Utzinger.

The self-deprecation is still present in the new work and, like the other before it, stands out in the best ways possible, by being more of a clever wink as opposed to shock or a hearty “haha” (though one could be forgiven to laugh pretty hard at Arby’s creating a meat carrot). And that’s precisely the right approach for the brand and its outstanding choice of spokesperson.


Agency: Fallon
Executive Creative Director, Rick Utzinger
Creative Director, Charlie Wolff
Creative Director, Joanne Torres
Art Director, Chris Berry
Copywriter, Joel Bratsch
Head of Production, Pat Sidoti
Associate Producer, Kolter Ridge
Director of Business Affairs, Brendan Lawrence
Business Affairs Manager, Mona Morris
Group Account Director, Chris Campbell
Account Supervisor, Payton Gallogly
Account Supervisor, Lindsay McNelis
Senior Account Manager, Sam Tuttle
Group Planning Director, Adam Chorney

Production: Arts & Sciences
Directors, Adam & Dave
Managing Director/Partner, Mal Ward
Managing Partner/Executive, Marc Marie
Head of Production, Christa Skotland
Producer, Pat Harris
Production Supervisor, Corey Choate
Production Designer, Noel McCarthy
Director of Photography, Peter Donahue

Edit: Charm School
Editor, Jesse Thompson
Executive Producer, Erin Simle

Audio: Sisterboss
Sound Design & Mix, Dan Jensen
Executive Producer, Annie Sparrows

Color: Nice Shoes
Colorist, Oscar Oboza
Color Assistant, Sam Ommen

Online and VFX: Volt Studios
Online/VFX Artist: Pete Olson
Post-Production Producer: Amanda Tibbets

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@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.