Arby’s has now escalated its ongoing diss war against the fast food giant.
There’s the attention economy, as well as the actual economy. In the social media age, brands compete heavily to dominate both.
Take the example of Arby’s. It’s a sizable fast-food chain, with nearly 3,400 locations and over 74,000 employees. But it has nowhere near the scale and reach of McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report, the undisputed king of fast food with more than 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries, according to the company.
While privately held Arby’s no doubt wants to cut into McDonald’s market share as much as possible, the company is well aware it’s not going to overtake the top spot. But the company has been taking a, let’s say unorthodox, approach to its viral marketing of late. It’s one designed to get people to talk about, think about and tweet about the brand in a way that lets it punch above its weight against McDonald’s. And to do so, they recruited the assistance of one of the best rappers in the game.
Who Has Arby’s Teamed Up With?
Abry’s has recruited the Virginia-based rapper Pusha T, aka Terrence LeVarr Thornton, for its latest advertising campaign, as noted by Stereogum.
Pusha T is a former member of the duo Clipse, who made their name on cold-blooded street tales that recounted the ins and outs of the narcotics trade; their sophomore album “Hell Hath No Fury,” is often considered one of the very best rap albums of all time.
He later went solo, and has developed a reputation as one of the most brutal battle rappers around, one who relishes taking down his competition with icy precision and exacting wordplay. In 2018, he engaged in a feud with Drake that was so infamously messy (Thorton accused Drake of hiding the existence of his child and being a deadbeat father, and also managed to undercover a photo of Drake wearing blackface) that Jay-Z is rumored to have reached out to deescalate the situation before it got out of hand.
Abry’s, meanwhile, seems to prefer Pusha at his most cut throat, because they’ve once again recruited him for a dis tract titled “Rib Roast,” in which Pusha laments the poor quality of the McRib sandwich, at one point saying “”McDonald’s what you selling mystery meat?/Hop up and go away, what does history teach?/ Mickey D’s McRib you ain’t it in the streets/The real country style rib sandwich here to compete.”
The video, which features images of a scared Ronald McDonald stand-in and professional bull rider Ezekiel Mitchell, is an advertisement for Arby’s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich, and at one point, as noted by Stereogum, Pusha “strategically punctuates one mention of the McRib with his trademark ‘Yeeugh!’ ad lib.”
This is the second team-up between the two parties, as Arby’s previously recruited Pusha for “Spicy Fish Diss,” an all-out assault on the sanctity of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich, which in Pusta’s estimation does not pass muster: “A little cube of fish from a clown is basic/ Say less, this argument is baseless/ Drowned in tartar/that Filet-O-Fish is tasteless.”
What Does Pusha T Have Against McDonald’s?
Around the time of the Spicy Fish Video, Pusha stated on his Twitter page that #ArbysPaidMeButIWouldSayThisAnyway.
But this isn’t just a case of Thorton cashing a check to big up his favorite fast food company. This beef seems personal.
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Pusha T has long claimed that Clipse co-wrote the ubiquitous McDonald’s 00’s jingle “I’m Lovin’ It,” along The Neptunes (who produced Clipse’s first two albums) and Justin Timberlake. He says he was only paid a one-time fee, but no royalties.
He told Rolling Stone,“I am solely responsible for the ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ swag and the jingle of that company. That’s just real. I am the reason. Now I gotta crush it,” and added that “I did it at a very young age at a very young time in my career where I wasn’t asking for as much money and ownership,” he said. “It’s something that’s always dug at me later in life like, ‘Dammit, I was a part of this and I should have more stake.’ It was like half a million or a million dollars for me and my brother — but that’s peanuts for as long as that’s been running.”
For the record, many parties have questioned the accuracy of Thorton’s claims.
Pusha T and Arby’s first teamed up for when the company licensed the 2014 EDM hit “Burial,” which is credited to Pusha T, Yogi and Skrillex for the We Have the Meats” campaign; he owns 40% of the track and gets paid every time it airs.