Arbys Online Marketing Leaves a Bad Taste

    August 22, 2006

Arby’s approach to online marketing looks as old as some of its classic neon signs.

Marketing Shift’s Jason Dowdell blogged his bad experience recently with Arby’s and its “I’m Thinking Music Sweeps.” Feigned cool with forced slang…the name alone is a red flag.

Rather than letting customers know instantly if they win a free song download, they are required to:

  • Visit the Arby’s Web site (step one).
  • Register with the site (step two).
  • Take a survey (step three).
  • Enter their code to see if they win a song (step four).

But winners can’t download the song yet. Arby’s sends download instructions via email (step five). And if you have multiple codes? You have to wait 24 hours before entering another one. But not before logging back into the site (step six, etc.).

Wow. That experience makes me want to run to Arby’s this instant to purchase a 44 oz beverage and join the fun. Yeah, you have to buy a bloated tankard of soda before you are honored with this opportunity.

Here’s my favorite line from Dowdell’s tale regarding company coupons, rebates and contests: “Businesses are based on the people that don’t follow through with mailing stuff in or with going online to enter their code and see if they won a free song from Yahoo! Music.”

After reading Dowdell’s post, I hit Arby’s site. As part of its “I’m Thinking” campaign, the site allows you to create your own thought bubble.

Cool, I thought, albeit an homage to the Motorola Pebl Pond. But Arby’s thought bubble offers NO customization. Every field other than name has a drop down menu with choices…Arby’s tells customers what to think too?! I’m thinking this approach to online marketing sucks.

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Kevin Dugan is the author of the popular Strategic Public Relations blog. Kevin is Director of Marketing Communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Visit Kevin’s blog: Strategic Public Relations.