Arby's goes very big, and very small, to promote Coca-Cola partnership

Arby's broke two Guinness World Records to promote its Coke partnership.

ATLANTA: Arby’s has the meats, and now it also has two Guinness World Records.

The chain broke the Guinness World Record for the smallest advertisement last week, and it just smashed the record for the largest advertising poster, all in an effort to tell consumers it has Coca-Cola products on tap.

To "share the news in the biggest way possible," Arby’s created a poster measuring 212,000 square feet, or nearly five acres, with the text, "Arby’s now has Coke." The ad is located in a field in the smallest town in America, Monowi, Nebraska, which has a population of one. The lone resident is Elsie Eiler, who is the town’s mayor, bartender, and librarian.

Keeping the world’s largest ad a secret has been a major challenge, explained Luke DeRouen, senior director of brand partnerships and PR at Arby’s.

"There was a tiny local TV station in Nebraska that got a drone shot of the ad and posted it on its social media page," he said. "We found out quickly that if you do something this big in America’s smallest town, people are going to talk about it and figure out what is going on."

Residents from surrounding towns helped Arby’s employees lay out the ad, which was secretly unveiled last Tuesday. Guinness World Records confirmed that same day that Arby’s had broken the record.

The activations are promoting the fact that Arby’s drink fountains are offering Coca-Cola, Coke Zero Sugar, Diet Coke, Sprite, Minute Maid Light, Mello Yello, Barq's Root Beer, Hi-C Flashin’ Fruit Punch, Fanta Orange, and Powerade Mountain Berry Blast. Arby’s is also offering a Coke Float for a limited time to celebrate the partnership.

Arby’s teased the announcement last week when it, in collaboration with Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, etched, "A big announcement is coming. This isn’t it." onto a sesame seed. The ad was put on display in New York, America’s largest city, where customers at a Manhattan location could view it by using a Scanning Electron Microscope provided by Hitachi-HTA.

Arby’s social media partner, Moxie, produced the ads and video content for this campaign. Edelman is supporting its earned media strategy.

Arby’s said last August that it would transition its beverage partnership from PepsiCo to Coca-Cola this month.

DeRouen said that his team started with an idea to promote the news with the world’s largest ad and worked backwards.

"We thought: Wouldn’t it be funny and engaging if we set a record on each end of the spectrum?" DeRouen said.

To promote the campaign, Arby’s team sought to create engaging video content. It is also launching a social media and paid social campaign on Tuesday, as well as an earned media push. It does not have a paid media element on TV.

To promote the campaign, the team set out to create engaging video content.

"When you are breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest ad ever made, it is a spectacle, it is gigantic and huge," said DeRouen. "Creating the great piece of video content and great imagery of that giant sign is the key for us."

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