Arby’s and Pusha T diss McDonald’s and ‘tasteless’ Filet-O-Fish
Everyone knows that it has the meats. Now Arby’s wants the world to know that it has the fish. The brand’s latest ad campaign, produced alongside rapper Pusha T, specifically and ruthlessly goes after the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.
Fast food marketing is getting personal. In a new campaign dropping today, Arby’s partnered with rapper Pusha T to record a ‘diss track’ music video targeting McDonald’s.
Like any great diss track, the new spot, advertising the limited-time Arby’s Spicy Fish Sandwich, blends over-the-top self-aggrandizement with aggressive denigration of its target – in this case the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. “Filet-O-Fish is ***, and you should be disgusted, how dare you sell a square fish asking us to trust it, a half slice of cheese, Mickey D’s on a budget?” The video’s background footage adds an air of dramatic intensity: giant ocean waves, a sinking ship, a sad-looking clown, a grizzly bear catching a salmon in its jaws.
The new campaign marks a creative departure from Arby’s traditional marketing strategy as the brand strives to up its competitive game in the industry and attract younger consumers.
The idea was born from a sense of confidence within the brand that it does in fact have a better product, says Arby’s chief marketer Patrick Schwing. “Once we got the product right and we felt like we could have that confidence, we could say, ‘look, we’re noticeably superior ... we have a better product.’ And we’re very confident that that confidence in the product then gets portrayed in the commercial. And we thought: what are fun ways to be competitive? Because we do want to draw a stark difference. And honestly, it’s not mean if you’re right, so we felt comfortable doing that.”
Schwing also wanted to surprise viewers with an angle that was “a little more competitive” than Arby’s previous marketing campaigns. While they’ve tended to have an air of self-confidence and flare, they have not gone so far as to try to verbally bury the brand’s competitors (or ‘opps,’ as they’d be known in the world of hip-hop.) “There’s a certain level of discovery to it – ‘can you believe what they did?’ – that we think has newsworthy value,” Schwing says.
This is not the first time that Pusha T has made his mark on the marketing of a major fast food brand. In 2016, it was revealed that he was the original author of the now-famous ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ jingle for, that’s right, McDonald’s. That jingle was unveiled in 2003 and went on to become the most long-lived marketing strategy in the brand’s history, according to Rolling Stone. “Pusha obviously has a background with McDonald’s and has come to our side of the road,” says Schwing.
With this latest campaign, Arby’s continues in its efforts to win the hearts of younger consumers, a demographic that’s proved somewhat elusive for the brand. Arby’s consumer base “does skew a little bit older in general,” according to Schwing, but the brand is “definitely focused on food innovation and commercialization ideas that introduce the brand to younger guests. We need that next generation of Arby’s consumers to join us.”
The new spot will air exclusively on digital platforms, and not on TV. “It’s social by design,” says Schwing. “We think that’s the right place for it to live.”