Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


It’s not easy being the butt of jokes.

It’s really not easy when your brand is pilloried regularly by one of America’s top comedians.

For months, nay years, Jon Stewart has equated Arby’s food with, well, not food. He’s made gestures of regurgitation. He’s described it as “shock and awe for your bowels.”

Many a cheesy marketing director or stuffy CEO would have coughed, spluttered and called their lawyers, desperate for a draconian way to stop the madness.

Instead, as Stewart departed “The Daily Show” after 16 years, Arby’s joined in the amusement. It ran two ads during Stewart’s farewell show. They, in their way, thanked Stewart for all the exposure.

In one, Arby’s showed a montage of all Stewart’s insults, set to the tune of “Thank You For Being A Friend.” It ended with “Not Sure Why, But We’ll Miss You.”

In the other, Arby’s offered its farewell sandwich.

“It’s for Jon, but also for all of us,” intoned the sad, desperate voice, “to eat at Arby’s whenever the sad thoughts come back.”

This was all quite brilliantly done.

They say that all publicity is good publicity. It isn’t. Ask Anthony Weiner. But understanding the humor and participating in it is a very fine art.

For all I know, Arby’s food really is “a meal that’s a dare for your colon.” But a confident brand understands its customers and the essential power of exposure in the right light.

So if someone starts to make fun of you, don’t get hurt. Showing you can take a joke and even partake in it might do you (and your entrails) a lot of good.


Published on: Aug 6, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.