Fish Sandwich Commercial Battle – McDonald’s vs. Arby’s – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Reviews

First, the commercials in their entirety…in this corner, Arby’s.

(Apologies on the audio quality, I had to record this on my iPhone off the television without a direct audio feed)

Now, McDonald’s popular ad from 2009:

Crunch Time: How Effective Was Each Commercial?

First, I’ll dissect the Arby’s ad.

Approximately 50% of this commercial is wasted on a premise that has absolutely no tie-in whatsoever to the client, Arby’s.

Dear Arby’s ad agency: you have a fantastic price point to highlight. WHY ON EARTH would you waste it with a ridiculous setup about a person who is clearly delusional and/or off their medications? This guy thinks he’s a fisherman on a dry-docked boat?

When our mentally unstable “Captain” looks through his scope and sees the “Arby’s” sign, he could be looking at any restaurant that serves fish sandwiches. Captain D’s, Rally’s, Burger King, etc.

The angle I would have taken would be to highlight the value the consumer is receiving. TWO sandwiches for five dollars? At Subway, you only get ONE sandwich for a Lincoln. McDonald’s has a “add another fish sandwich for a dollar”, but thats only after you purchase a Filet O’Fish Value Meal.

Instead of making the two sandwiches for five dollars the star, the ad agency decided “we need a cute and clever set-up to catch the audience’s attention. Hey, I know! How about a guy who thinks he’s a fisherman, but he’s, like, in a docked boat across the street from Arby’s. Do you love it? Because I do!”.

Equally as complicit: the Arby’s executive who green-lit this project.

Overall, Arby’s has a better offer, in my opinion. Unfortunately, you’d have to watch the last fifteen seconds of this commercial to find that out. That’s assuming you suffered through the first  fifteen seconds.

Now. the McDonald’s ad

I realize this commercial is approximately three years old. The only new fish sandwich commercials I’m aware of for McDonald’s are for radio. That’s why I chose this particular spot.

Add a memorable, catchy jingle that actually mentions the name of the product in the song lyrics (hint, hint, Arby’s…). Throw in a popular infomercial item / gag gift that virtually everyone is familiar with, that actually “sings”, but change the tune so you’ll empathize with the fish.

That’s a far cry better than Arby’s.


Because the lyrics state “gimme back that Filet O’Fish”. It couldn’t be for anything else but McDonald’s.

Without a price point, this is a “phantom reminder” ad. Meaning, the next time you want a fish sandwich, Ronald & the boys are betting that you’ll be singing their infectious jingle, which contains “Filet O’Fish”, which can only be bought at…McDonald’s.




Does either commercial actually make you want to go buy their fish sandwich? 

The Arby’s price point is certainly compelling and simple.

But you’re not singing about their sandwich.

About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
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1 Response to Fish Sandwich Commercial Battle – McDonald’s vs. Arby’s – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Reviews

  1. Pingback: How To Market Your Restaurant – The Ultimate How-To Guide “Restaurant Marketing Series – Move Your Food” – Tim Burt | Tim Burt Discusses Radio, Tv, And Web Commercial Advertising

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