American restaurant Arby’s has taken the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” to heart.
The fast-food chain has been much maligned by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central satirical news program The Daily Show over his 16-year tenure.
In the show’s penultimate episode, it was Arby’s turn to bite back with an ad featuring a mash-up of Stewart’s best put-downs while “Thank You for Being a Friend” played in the background.
The spots featured a wrap-up of many of the barbs directed at the roast beef king, including: “Arby’s: It’s like shock and awe for your bowels,” “Arby’s: Isn’t there anywhere else we can eat” and “Arby’s: Why not challenge your stomach to a fight?”
The Arby’s commercial concluded: “I’m not sure why, but we’ll miss you.”
Advertisers have reportedly been flocking to the fake news broadcast to take advantage of higher-than-normal viewing figures for Stewart’s final episode Thursday. Viewership has so far hovered around the 1.3 million mark for the final season. Albeit hindered by being on cable, The Daily Show struggles against some of its late-night talk show counterparts.
A 30-second spot on the farewell show is rumoured to cost approximately $230,000 (U.S.). The figure may seem high, but ad spots in an average episode of The Big Bang Theory, The Blacklist, American Idol and The Voice sold for more in 2014, according to Variety.
The Daily Show is a news source for roughly 12 per cent of Americans. However, a 2010 study found only 10 per cent watched the show for the latest news and headlines, 2 per cent for in-depth reporting and 43 per cent for entertainment, so correlations with regular sitcoms are not out-of-the-ordinary.
When compared to other highly hyped TV finales’ advertising prices, the program barely registers.
However, The Daily Show’s ad cost is impressive given the audience viewing figures. It is expected to receive nearly 70 and 50 million fewer viewers than the finales of Seinfeld and Friends respectively.
Stewart does benefit from clips being viewed and shared widely across social media, substantially amplifying their reach. Wednesday’s Arby’s ad received 150,000 views on YouTube as of early Thursday morning.
The high price has also been attributed to the average profile of The Daily Show viewers. Studies from U.S. think-tank Pew Research Center in 2010 and 2012 indicated 37 per cent of the audience earns more than $75,000 (U.S.) salary and 74 per cent are younger than 50.
As Stewart bids farewell, he can add punching well above his viewing figures weight to his long list of achievements.
- With files from Leon Stafford at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via the New York Times News Service