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Arby's champions 'courage' in marketing

News, 04 December 2015

ORLANDO, FL: Brands and agencies need to display more "courage" if they want their advertising to make the desired impact among consumers, a leading executive from Arby's has argued.

Robert Lynch, brand president/chief marketing officer at Arby's, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida.

"I don't think advertising is dead," he said. (For more, including further campaign details, read Warc's exclusive report: Arby's beefs up with bravado.)

"I think that advertising is just craving courage. It's just craving clients and agencies that are willing to put themselves out there."

Arby's has put this philosophy into practice with "We Have the Meats" – a bold, brash and tongue-in-cheek positioning which champions the huge variety of protein-filled options it can offer hungry diners.

In bringing this notion to life, one such creative execution featured the number of a "vegetarian hotline" for non-meat eaters tempted by the sight and sizzle of the chain's brown sugar bacon.

While this effort risked irritating some viewers, Lynch suggested it simultaneously stirred up the passion of the brand's core audience.

"And that's really what marketing's all about: it's having the courage to make those choices to do things that your customers are going to love," he said.

Being brave enough to make a statement – rather than attempting to please everybody – has also helped Arby's increase transactions by some 6%.

"It's very hard to inspire change and invoke emotion without upsetting a couple of people. When we decided to do this, I thought to myself, ‘What is wrong with you? Why are you putting this out there? You know there are going to be people who aren't going to like it,'" admitted Lynch.

But he added: "The critical foundation of what we do as marketers is: we make choices. And those choices have to be grounded in authenticity. You have to know who you are and you have to know who your customers are."

Data sourced from Warc