Fallon, Arby’s Salute Jon Stewart

By Erik Oster 

Fast food chain Arby’s has been a favorite target of Jon Stewart‘s over the years, with barbs like “Arby’s, the meat that is a dare for your colon,” “It’s like if a stomach could get punched in the balls” and “Technically it’s food.” Rather than take offense, with the 16-year veteran Daily Show host set to leave the stage, Fallon crafted a pair of farewell ads that aired during the show’s penultimate episode last night, including a 60-second spot entitled “Thank You For Being A Friend” featuring clips of Stewart making fun of the brand over the years.

Opening with the message “For Jon. Love, Arby’s,” the montage of Arby’s-bashing highlights is set to a rendition of Andrew Gold‘s “Thank You For Being A Friend” (best known as the theme song to the classic show The Golden Girls) performed by Arby’s spokesman Ving Rhames. The 60-second spot finds the perfect tone, portraying Arby’s as a good sport while leveraging the increased brand visibility, ending with the line, “Not sure why, but we’ll miss you.”

A second spot from Fallon, “Arby’s Last Sandwich,” introduces a new menu item named after the show, The Daily Deli. Affecting a somber tone, Rhames informs viewers, “This is the last sandwich Arby’s ever wanted to make, because it means he’s really leaving.” Rhames then dedicates the sandwich, corned beef with mustard on marbled rye, to Jon and also “for all of us, to eat at Arby’s whenever the sad thoughts come back.” While lacking the outright hilarity of “Thank You For Being A Friend,” it functions fine as a follow-up, further tying the brand to Stewart and commiserating with fans sad to see Stewart go. Both spots also gel well with the tongue-in-cheek humor of Fallon’s recent advertising for the brand, particularly the brand’s apology to Pepsi for failing to feature them in a second ad, per an agreement with the soft drink company.

While both ads are good exposure for Arby’s, the airtime didn’t come cheap. The company declined to comment in The Wall Street Journal on how much it paid to broadcast the ads, but ad buyers told the publication they paid around “$230,000 for 30 seconds of time in addition to agreeing to make a broader ad buy with channels owned by Comedy Central’s parent company, Viacom Inc.” Between the two spots, the buy likely ate up a sizable chunk of the fast food chain’s $120 million ad budget, but the company is banking on the timely and well-crafted message having a positive enough impact on its brand image to offset the costs. While the brand hasn’t purchased any ad time for the show’s final episode tonight (which presumably has even steeper rates for air time), the brand did confirm to The Wall Street Journal that it will factor into the finale “in some way.”



Client: Arby’s
Agency: Fallon, Minneapolis
Director: Brett Froomer

Fallon Worldwide

Chief Creative Officer: Jeff Kling
Creative Director: Matt Heath
Copywriters: Charlie Kuhn and Charlie Wolff
Art Director: Chris Howe
Executive Producer: Ted Knutson/Jennifer David
Managing Director: Rocky Novak
Account Director: Chris Campbell
Account Manager: Rachel Tonneson
Planning Director: Chad Koehnen
Strategic Planner: Ellery Luse

Production Company: RadicalMedia
Director: Brett Froomer
Line Producer: Katie Kilburg

Editorial: Jesse Thompson (Fallon) & Steve Medin (Volt Studios)

Color: Oscar Oboza (Nice Shoes)

Finishing: Steve Medin (Volt Studios)

Music/Composer: Original music track adapted from “The Golden Girls” sitcom theme song. Master recorded by BWN music.  Composer Ken Brahmsteadt