I'm thinking Arby's… is really going for it.
The fast food chain known for its roast beef sandwiches and curly fries has decided to air a new commercial to promote its Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich. Not a noteworthy or surprising advertising move--except that the commercial is 13 hours long.
Yes, you read that right. Beginning at 1 p.m. Central Time on Saturday, Arby's will show a commercial on the local My9 television station in Duluth, Minnesota that is roughly 1,560 times as long as a typical 30-second commercial spot. The ad will be 13 hours of dialogue-free footage of a cut of brisket being smoked at a Texas smokehouse.
The move is another example of a brand trying to separate itself from its competitors. While the concept is creative--at least more so than McDonald's new, creepy mascot or Burger King's updated slogan--the fast-food chain's choice of Duluth to air the brisket footage is a somewhat curious one.
"I think it is kind of a silly market to do something for 13 hours because there aren't very many Arby's up here to begin with and Duluth has a lot of local, unique restaurants that people go to a lot more often than fast-food chains," says Duluth resident Peter Steltz. "I can only think of two Arby's in Duluth off the top of my head."
Steltz added that students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth will probably be the most likely demographic to tune into the brisket smoking over the weekend.
"My first reaction is that it just seems excessive," says Maggie Paulson, another Duluth resident. "People may watch the first few minutes but then go smoke meat of their own."
For those avid Arby's fans who do not live in Duluth, have no fear: You will be able to watch all the brisket magic for yourself online from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday at www.13hourbrisket.com. Viewers of the online stream can even win prizes for watching--including 13 cash prizes of $1,300 (get it? 13 is a theme here, folks). According to The New York Times, the 13-hour brisket initiative will cost Arby's an estimated $250,000.
The big price tag begs the question of whether the commercial is worthwhile for Arby's. Still, the ad is a bit reminiscent of the "Yule Log" television broadcast that dates back to the 1960s--as well as Netflix's humorous revival of the tradition with its streaming Yule Log channel--and people watch that year after year.