Many people outside the field of advertising often view branded messaging the same as fast food drive-thru lines that are just too long: with impatience and general suspicion. The public’s cynical attitude towards branding often clouds its purpose. So what’s the key to making it past the negativity? To entertain rather than advertise. A prime example of this came when Arby’s social media director Josh Martin took advantage of a perfect opportunity at the Grammy’s.
Award shows like this are expectedly dominated by social media chatter. Between Miley Cyrus’ scandalous performances and Jennifer Lawrence’s general clumsiness, there is plenty to be said. But this year, viewers were discussing something different. They were talking about Arby’s brand, and more specifically, the logo.
— Arby's (@Arbys) January 27, 2014
Arby’s chose to “call out” Pharrell Williams for his unique wardrobe choice. Many viewers noted the puffy brown hat he was sporting, but never made any connection until Arby’s took to Twitter. It was a caramel-colored version of the Arby’s cowboy hat.
— Hyundai USA (@Hyundai) January 27, 2014
This one little tweet garnered big attention. Other brands were even congratulating Arby’s wittiness… or twittiness, if we may. But it all really came together when Pharrell Williams himself played along. The singer-songwriter and Arby’s decided to use their good publicity to give back. Arby’s paid $44,100 for the hat on eBay, which Pharrell then donated to his charity for underprivileged children, From One Hand to Another.
The message: Wearing a funky hat can make a difference in more than just the fashion world. With a little sense of humor, Arby’s was able to promote their brand and support a deserving cause – with just one hat.