Arby’s super fans have turned out in force for the restaurant’s quirky stunts in the past, like subscription boxes full of branded swag that sold out in less than an hour.
And within the past week, 15,000 of them tussled—virtually, not physically—for a chance to fly more than 5,000 miles round-trip in a single day to eat sandwiches by the sea.
Arby’s execs, who sorted through nearly 100 ideas before settling on a promotion they deemed to be just the right amount of wacky, will be taking 10 people to Hawaii for six hours. Cost to consumers: $6. (That’s the price of one sandwich, but the promise is many, many sandwiches).
The chain reports 250,000 website visits, with tickets selling out in “microseconds.” (That would explain all those Twitter gripes from people who weren’t quick enough to snag a spot). Winners hail from metro areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, with Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama and Ohio also represented.
The event hypes Arby’s new short-term product line, which will put fried chicken filets, brisket, cheese and pineapple habanero sauce (or, all of the above on a concoction called the Big Kahuna) on King’s Hawaiian buns.
“It’s kind of absurd to go all the way to Hawaii to try these sandwiches,” says CMO Jim Taylor. “But why not?”
This was the pitch to would-be day-trippers, which went out on social media last week: “Arby’s $6 Hawaiian Getaway flies you to Honolulu to see the sights—all three Arby’s King’s Hawaiian sandwiches. No volcanoes. No pineapple farms. Just you, sweet buns, tender meats and a Hawaiian paradise to eat them in.”
The precise agenda for that brief stint in the Aloha State is still coming together, execs say, though starting point, Los Angeles International Airport, and date, April 27, are locked.
The quickie sojourn fit the bill for Arby’s marketers, who say they’re looking for unique concepts that show off the brand’s cheeky personality. Plus, who wouldn’t want a tropical mini-vacation right about now?
“It’s been a long, hard winter for a lot of the country,” says Taylor, who also brought fans the “meat sweats” onesie, sandwich-themed permanent tattoos and the world’s largest and smallest outdoor ads to announce a switch from Pepsi to Coke. “We’d love to stay in Hawaii longer, and I wish I could fill a 747 with Arby’s fans, but it’s pretty cool to take a day and spend it seeing a beautiful part of the country.”
The stunt comes from longtime Arby’s partners Fallon, Edelman and Moxie.