HMH Awards: Arby’s

By Jason Searcy | Senior Copywriter

CATEGORY: Deep-frying a juicy idea that no one needs and (almost) everybody craves


Arby’s and agency partner Fallon have turned the classic food paradigm on its head: They’ve created a food that eats you. Enter the deep-fried turkey pillow, an invention that’s as unnecessary as it is cozy. Silly? Yes – but also smart.

Here’s why an avian-themed slumber cushion is an outstanding promotional idea.

It’s weird.

In an age of increasing noise, nothing alerts the “what?” region of your brain like a person blissfully inspecting the undercarriage of a Thanksgiving centerpiece.

It’s comfortable.

The turkey pillow may look like a bird without feathers, but what it lacks in subtlety it probably makes up for in comfort. I say “probably” because the only way to actually experience one is by entering a contest (it sold out hours after launch).

It’s rare.

And that’s exactly the point. This promotion isn’t about selling pillows. It’s about selling out of them. Remember the launch of Popeye’s chicken sandwich? The fact that the chain ran out of them drove people crazy. It’s always fun to want something that you can’t have.

It’s fun to show off to your friends.

Of course, you don’t need to actually have a deep-fried turkey pillow to enjoy it. You can try it on via Instagram or Snapchat. One could even argue that this hat isn’t really a hat – it’s a virtual one. It’s all about peacocking your turkey head for laughs and likes.

It makes you scroll through the comments.

But it’s not just about your friends. It’s also about the reactions of perfect strangers. With comments that range from “take my money” to “there’s still time to delete this” and “Arby’s please I beg of you this pillow is haunting my dreams please,” it’s fun to see what people have to say about this very unusual creation.

It’s timely.

Thanksgiving may be an occasion to burrow into the couch and hibernate – but the entire year has been, too. Being able to give a nod (off) to such a fact without saying “unprecedented times” is quite skillful.

Did I mention that it’s weird?

Yes. But that should come as no surprise. This pillow was cooked up by the same brand that brought us last year’s meat-based vegetable, or “megetable.”

Whew. That’s a lot of deep-fried turkey pillow content. After consuming a hefty portion, I took a short turkey nap. When I awoke, I came to a realization: I don’t need a deep-fried turkey pillow. But I still want one. And I’m still thinkin’ Arby’s.