ANA Annual Meeting 2015

Arby's Brand President-CMO: 'That's So Stupid, It's Awesome'

Rob Lynch Explains How Brands Can Have Big Voices Without Big Budgets

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Arby's advertising budget pales in comparison to those at larger quick-serve restaurants, such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. So the company has to be nimble and find ways to do unique things with its smaller budget.

And, as the company admits, not too long ago the brand was a bit tired and unfocused and sales were weak. Rob Lynch, brand president and chief marketing officer, joined Arby's in 2013 after successful stints working on brands such as Taco Bell and has helped revitalize its image and ignite sales.

His advice to smaller players includes: "You have to be smart, you have to be nimble, and you have to be willing to take risks. And I emphasize that last one," Mr. Lynch told Ad Age at the 2015 ANA Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando. "You have to be able to make a choice and stick to it, and get after it."

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Arby's marketing also now has more of an edge.

The chain has jumped in to make itself part of the conversation and now gets a lot more attention and buzz. Examples include the popular January 2014 tweet to Pharrell about the hat he wore at the Grammys, and buying the hat in a charity fundraiser, to honoring Jon Stewart upon his departure from "The Daily Show," on which the comedian ripped on the chain for years.

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Arby's, which now uses the slogan "We Have The Meats" and spots voiced by Ving Rhames, even recorded the 13-hour process of its brisket being smoked. Online, people spent an average of 39 minutes on the website, Mr Lynch said.

The company is willing to take chances, Mr. Lynch said. "A lot of times I tell the team 'that is so stupid, it's awesome.'"

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