The average commercial lasts 30 seconds. Arby's latest is 1,560 times that long.
This Saturday, the sandwich chain aired a 13-hour commercial on a single television station in Duluth, Minn. The commercial promotes Arby's brisket sandwich, demonstrating the slow smoking process behind the menu item. The ad has no dialogue: just brisket smoking for hours on end, in a manner reminiscent of Christmas specials of a burning Yule log. The climax occurs during the conclusion of the 13-hour commercial when the brisket is removed and assembled into a sandwich.
The ad smashed the previous world record for longest commercial, which was a mere one hour spot by the Nivea brand.
A live stream of the commercial will be available on Arby's website Wednesday, beginning at 9 a.m. EST. To get people to engage, Arby's will be offering over $20,000 in cash and prizes over the course of the live stream for online viewers.
Unlike typical commercials, Arby's goal isn't to get people's eyes on the screen. Few individuals -- even those in Duluth who had access to the original airing of the commercial -- could be expected to tune in for 13 hours straight. Instead, the sandwich chain hopes to gander social-media buzz from people talking about the record and the weirdness of a 13-hour commercial. If fans of the ad take to social media, Arby's doesn't need potential customers to see the ad -- it just needs them to see their friends' Twitter feeds.
The commercial was produced by Fallon, a full-service advertising agency with headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in London and Tokyo. You may have recognized some of their work including the fan favorite Cadbury Gorilla ad, the agency taking TIME Magazine's iconic red border and using it in innovative ways and United Airlines "It's Time to Fly," which used Oscar-nominated animators. They also happened to be involved in McDonald's major flop: The Arch Deluxe, along with Holiday Inn's "Bob Johnson" commercial, one that featured a transgender woman.
Only time will tell if this social experiment will be a total hit or get completely roasted.
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