Fast food roast beef sandwich chain Arby's has a new logo, a new tagline and a new enemy: Subway.
The ad isn't bad. The logo update, kind of a mess. And the tagline?
This brand evolution is the work of CP+B, who won away the nearly $100 million Arby’s account in February without a review. It was a gift from Arby's Chief Marketing Officer Russ Klein, who was the one who hired CP+B to rebrand Burger King in 2004.
Klein left BK in 2009, and CP+B (according to former partner Alex Bogusky) fired the $300 client two years later over creative differences. However, the joint statement issued by agency and client stated, "We are incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished together, but have mutually decided that now is the right time to part ways. We are fans of each other’s work and wish each other much success in the future."
The edgy CP+B work for BK was legendary, going viral and causing other creatives to turn green. But it failed to stop a steady decline in sales.
Burger Business wrote:
CP+B certainly can’t bear all the fault for BK’s inability to grow, but management clearly decided that the agency has had its shot. And has missed. The chain reported a 2.3% decline in worldwide same-store sales for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010. The brand advanced some in Europe, but in the U.S. and Canada sales decline 3.9% for the year. Wendy’s is building; McDonald’s is cruising. BK has been falling behind.In short, the advertising didn't work. And the vultures were quick to circle the once-untouchable creative shop.
Slate's Seth Stevenson wrote,
Crispin was the sexiest ad agency in the country. It had been named “Agency of the Year” at the Clio Awards for two years running. It was designing enormous campaigns for well-known brands like Volkswagen and Burger King. And yet the more accolades Crispin received (Ad Age judged it the No. 1 agency of the decade at the end of 2009), the more my distaste for the outfit sharpened. Crispin’s raunchy, bro-focused vibe rubbed me all the wrong ways, targeting the lowest common denominator with campaigns that valued provocation above substance and casual cruelty above inclusiveness.Now, the same marketing chief has brought CP+B over to Arby's to try a new strategy. Instead of differentiating by cool factor, Arby's is firing a very focussed shot across the bow of Subway, the top seller in the "sandwich" category of American fast food chains.
It's a solid message for a one-off campaign, if people end up caring where their meat is sliced. Here in Canada, unsanitary high-speed factory slicing of Maple Leaf cold cuts in 2008 was found to be the cause of a listeria outbreak that killed 22 people. So processing matters.
But what exactly is Arby's beef? Their site lists the ingredients of their roast beef as "Beef, water, salt, sodium phosphate." However, there is an older ingredients list circulating that reads "Trimmed Boneless Beef Chunks (Minimum 70%) Combined With Chopped Beef For a Maximum of 12% Fat. Contains up to 9.0% of a Self-Basting Solution of Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphate."
They are also serving more and more turkey, which is officially described as "Turkey Breast, Turkey Broth, Contains 2% or less of the following: Salt, Brown Sugar, Modified Food Starch,
Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate."
Arby's has had its share of urban legend headaches about the quality of its meat, including a tenacious one that claims the beef arrives at the restaurant in gelatinous form. While the latter is only a hoax, basing their entire brand on "slicing up freshness" really could bite them in the buns if it draws too much attention to the quality and processing of their beef or turkey.
And now they've given Subway a reason to embarrass them.
Russ Klein is willing to bet again on CP+B. But I have to wonder why.