Arby's turkey ad ruffles Iowa feathers, so company's changing it - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Arby's turkey ad ruffles Iowa feathers, so company's changing it


A new ad for the fast food chain Arby's is ruffling some feathers in Iowa.  The ad raises the question:  Where does your meat come from, and is it fresh?

The Arby's ad uses a detective, claiming to dish out the truth on where fast food rival Subway slices meat.  In the commercial, the actor is outside a West Liberty Foods plant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where turkey is sliced for Subway chains nationwide.  West Liberty says it's not an accurate argument when it comes to food freshness, and ad experts say the negative tactic likely won't win Arby's any points.

"A lot of people think the meat in this sandwich is slice up in the back of this store.  Well let me show you where the back really is:  Iowa.  That's a long walk for a turkey sandwich," the actor in the Arby's advertisement said.

Arby's wants you to think its meat is good, better than competitors that have a reputation for being fresh.  West Liberty Foods says it's a disappointing attack, aimed at an Iowa plant that takes food safety quite seriously.

"The product that comes out of that plant is top notch in terms of food safety.  The plant is designed with separate slicing rooms that have been designed to mimic surgical operating rooms.  So the food generated through this plant is considerably safer than that sliced on site at a restaurant," said Dan Waters, West Liberty Foods general counsel.

Advertising experts say it's not a new tactic, but one more common in political ads, not sandwich wars.

"They're trying to have what we call a 'me too' strategy.  They want to jump on the bandwagon of freshness, which is something that generally the public is concerned about right now.  So they think that's going to get them part of the market share," said Libby Waterbury, a senior copy writer and marketing strategist for Hellman Advertising.

The Arby's approach could even turn off some customers from going to the restaurant.  But Waterbury believes it will more likely open the fast food chain's eyes to where it should really direct its efforts.

"Generally, 'me too' ads don't work well because you should find your own things that are special about you, not saying 'Us too!  Us too!  We're fresh.  We're great.  We're healthy, too!'  You know, they sell nice roast beef sandwiches, just maybe they focus on that," Waterbury said.

Apparently, Arby's is learning that a bit already.  We contacted the company about our story, and late Tuesday afternoon, it responded and will now change the ad, removing the reference to Iowa.

A company spokesperson released the following statement:

"We offer our sincere apologies if we offended any of the good people of Iowa as a result of our new advertising campaign, 'Slicing up the Truth about Freshness.' Please know that in no way was the advertising designed to disparage the state of Iowa, but rather it's meant to dramatize the distance between a competitor's slicing facilities and any of its restaurants.  Our advertising is being revised to remove the reference and will replace current advertising as soon as possible, which should be no more than a few days."

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