Tagged: CMO

4 Things Agencies of Record Can Do to Survive the Trend of ‘Projectization’

We've all been there. A big brand puts its business into review and everyone goes for it, only to find out the piece of business is just that: a piece. Meanwhile, any number of specialist agencies shares all the other pieces: media, PR, digital, mobile, social, experiential—you name it. It's like a flock of ducks pecking away at a single piece of bread.

Karen Kaplan Alex Fine

Recently, we talked to several top CMOs from leading brands about agency roles and the AOR model. We asked them about their pain points and how an agency could make their job easier. And the biggest takeaway from those discussions was surprising: that our interests (agency and CMO) have never been more aligned.

CMOs are scrutinizing agency costs and roles, while at the same time determined (with tighter budgets) to deliver consumer engagement across multiple channels and platforms. It's no wonder the AOR model has become increasingly threatened in favor of piecemeal project work. CMOs logically ask the question: How could one agency really be the solution to all of one's complex marketing challenges?

But is that the right question? CMOs are telling us otherwise. They acknowledge the need to have discipline experts, but under the guidance of a lead agency—and even more importantly, a lead idea.

Ten years ago, the exclusive agency/brand relationship was the norm. Indeed, at that time, most of our client relationships at Hill Holliday fit that model. That gave way to the lead-agency model made up of a team of specialized agencies. And now, more and more often we find ourselves competing for project work. The CMOs recognize that "projectization" only increased fragmentation, and fragmentation derailed the customer journey, diluted the brand voice and overwhelmed the consumer. More is not more for consumers; more is too much, and avoidance is rapidly becoming the new default.

CMOs and brands are hungry for an answer that addresses their challenges and uncovers opportunities. CMOs, especially those in charge of brands fighting a daily share battle, are realizing the value of an AOR. And after several years of trial and error, they recognize the need for a new, more modern AOR.

So what will that look like? Here's what they had to say:

The modern AOR shouldn't claim to be able to do everything really well. CMOs complain that each agency, regardless of original core discipline, now claims that it has the capability to do everything. While they recognize that an AOR needs to be well versed in all aspects of brand engagement, they don't believe they can possibly excel across all disciplines. As one CMO stated: "Be honest. Tell me you do 15 things, but then tell me that you do seven of these really well and that you have to work with partners to do the others well."

The modern AOR should own the integrated customer journey. The modern AOR needs to be able to work closely and selflessly with partner agencies in order to aggregate and curate all brand experiences across a multidiscipline customer journey that tracks not only the behavior of customers, but also their mindset and attitude. This way we can identify knowledge gaps and opportunities, as well as the right channels and technologies with which to strategically target our customers as they move along the journey.

By leading and owning the integrated customer journey, the modern AOR will not only serve as agency brand stewards, but will also critically help CMOs regain stewardship of their own brands. As one CMO advised: "You have to be an orchestra leader. I may not have all the instruments. I may not be able to control them if they want to play something else. Trying to make a beautiful piece of music is becoming really hard."

The modern AOR is all about creative excellence. While CMOs expect us to constantly evolve, integrate and bring them new tools, they also expect us to continue delivering creative excellence. It's not enough to be in the trenches with them, fighting the share battle; they want us to provide the exceptional creative ideas to help them win over time.

The modern AOR uniquely understands how hard the job of the CMO is, and how difficult it is to come up with a simple but magnificent idea that delivers. For the past few years, our industry has questioned the notion of the "big idea" and its relevance in today's market. Because clients have pursued multiple agencies (and all too often multiple ideas), they have effectively fragmented the brand experience. As brands increasingly struggle for share, only the brands that engage consumers with an insightful, compelling, focused idea will win. This is the core craft of the AOR. As one CMO described it: "Part of your winning is how creative your army can be."

Of course there are certainly times when project work is the right answer—for both the brand and agency. And collaboration and respect among partner agencies is always a must have.

IMHO, the death of the AOR has been greatly exaggerated. Let's reclaim it, rethink it and champion its value. Because the truth is, we've never been more necessary, essential—and in demand.

Karen Kaplan (@KarenKaplanHH) is chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday, where she began her career as a receptionist.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Quiz: Which Marketing or Media Job Is Right for You?

Whether you're just preparing to enter the working world or you're rethinking your career path, you might need some ideas on where to focus your efforts.

The marketing and media industries are packed with interesting job options, and it might turn out you're perfect for a line of work you've never considered.

Take this quick quiz to find out where you might be a perfect fit:


Quiz: What's the Right Marketing or Media Job for You?


Today's marketing and media industries are overflowing with career options, but which one is your perfect fit? This Adweek quiz will help you find out.


You'd Make a Great Writer


You have a creative streak and a knack for expressing your ideas in writing. Your emails are beautifully lucid, your tweets are snappy and your options are practically boundless (unless you were looking to make big bucks right out of college). In today's market, marketing agencies and publishers alike are hungry for great writers like you.
Possible job titles:
Staff Writer
Content Creator
Content Specialist
Content Planner


You'd Make a Great Designer


You see the world through a creative lens—spotting beauty, connections and interesting ideas where others might not. And you love learning new ways to share that vision with your friends, followers and the world, be it by snapping photos, making videos or creating illustrations.
Possible job titles:
Art Director
Design Director
Motion Graphics Designer
User Experience (UX) Designer
Visual Effects Artist


You'd Make a Great Creative Director


You're that rarest of combinations: a creative spirit AND a leader. Whether you come into the role through a writing, strategy or design background, you're always looking for the bigger idea, one that transcends advertising or day-to-day content creation. And you love buying the first round of drinks after a killer project is live or a pitch is complete.
Possible job titles:
Creative Director
Creative Lead
Content Strategist
Creative Strategist
Chief Creative Officer
Creative Evangelist
Creative Innovation Director


You'd Make a Great PR / Social Strategist


Where others see noise and information overload, you see an ocean of opportunity that can only be sailed by the quick-witted, adaptive and insightful. Your comfort with social media and digital communication make you a hot commodity among marketers and publishers alike.
Possible job titles:
Social Specialist
Community Manager
Communications Specialist
Communications Director
PR Strategist
Social Strategist
Social Editor
Engagement Specialist
Event Planner
Viral Content Strategist
Influencer Marketing Specialist


You'd Make a Great Media Planner or Buyer


Billions of dollars are spent on advertising each year, and where that money goes is largely determined by media planners and buyers. Your natural ability to balance research with strong recommendations makes you an ideal pick for this vital industry. Creatives may not find it sexy, but you'll never be lacking in job opportunities.
Possible job titles:
Media Planner
Media Buyer
Media Assistant
Media Researcher
Media Coordinator
Media Analyst
Digital Media Planner


You'd Make a Great Account Manager


Clients: Can't live with 'em, can't let your co-workers bury them in an unmarked grave. Your talents as a results-oriented diplomat will make you perfect for the vital role of supervising an account, whether in the agency world or keeping a publisher's advertisers happy.
Possible job titles:
Account Coordinator
Account Supervisor
Account Manager
Account Lead
Client Relations Manager
Client Specialist


You'd Make a Great Analytics Specialist


Spreadsheets are like an extension of your soul. Numbers, data, charts: These are your true friends, while humans so often fail you. Your ability to measure, analyze and visualize will open countless career doors, and if marketing and media don't work out, almost any other industry would be happy to have you.
Possible job titles:
Analytics Lead
Business Analyst
Data Analyst
Data Visualization Specialist
Reporting Analyst
Statistical Specialist
Director of Sales Analytics


You'd Make a Great Project Manager or Producer


Your talents for organization, collaboration and time management make you one of the most valuable resources any modern marketer or publisher could ask for. Project managers and producers use a mix of technology and diplomacy to keep complex projects running on time and on budget.
Possible job titles:
Project Manager
Project Supervisor
Video Producer
Digital Producer
Project Coordinator
Project Administrator
Production Specialist
Production Manger
PMO Specialist


You'd Make a Great Brand Strategist


You love finding out what people want and why. You have strong instincts for consumer behavior and business trends, and you're willing to back it up with research and observation. Brands and agencies alike will clamor for your skills, though it might take some time to work your way up the ranks, spending long hours writing briefs on deadline. All that effort will be rewarded with a long career rich in opportunities.
Possible job titles:
Brand Strategist
Research Specialist
Strategic Planner
Communications Planner
Consumer Intelligence Specialist


You'd Make a Great Entrepreneur


Why waste your best years toiling away for someone else's profit? Your ambition, drive and talent make you the perfect person to launch your own business, whether it's a tech-savvy startup, a niche agency or an innovative new publication. A few years of full-time work might help you learn what you need to know, but don't wait too long to follow your dream, or you'll risk getting stuck in the corporate rut.
Possible job titles:


You'd Be Great at Business Development or Sales


You can close a deal. Your talents for networking, negotiation and seizing opportunities to win new clients will make you a star on the sales or business development team of just about any organization in marketing and media. And they'll make you a good bit of money, too. You're part of a new breed of sales talent, one that relies more on conversation and candor than cheesy grins and big promises, and you'll never be lacking job opportunities.
Possible job titles:
Business Development Specialist
Business Development Officer
New Business Planner
New Business Director
Client Growth Officer
Sales Account Executive
Sales Manager


You're happiest at work when you

Can write, uninterrupted, with distractions blocked out

Create something beautiful

Come up with a bold, ass-kicking new idea

Browse social apps to catch up on the world

Make a solid plan come together

Hear that your client is ecstatic

Bring order to chaos

Become an overnight expert in a complex topic

Close a deal

At a party, you can be found…

Befriending the bartender

Overthinking the host's music selections

Soaking in the ambience, possibly under an influence

Organizing a group plan for where to go next

Flirting effortlessly and incorrigibly

At the center of everything, because you're the host

Snapchatting your friends who didn't come

Scanning the bookshelves and magazine stacks

Asking a stranger about his or her life story

Which famous figure would you love to share a meal with?

David Foster Wallace

Frida Kahlo

Mark Zuckerberg

Anna Wintour

Oprah Winfrey

Warren Buffett

Abraham Lincoln

David Ogilvy

Elon Musk

You're stuck in a waiting room. What do you read?

Vanity Fair

The New York Times


Slack notifications



Your LinkedIn notifications



What's your ideal work attire?

Jeans and an old concert T-shirt

Thrift store chic

Something #ootd-worthy

Professional but not stuffy

Crisp, impeccable, maybe a bit intimidating

"Listen, Chairman Mao, I'll wear what I want to wear"

Dark colors, earth tones … whatever hides coffee stains

The best that Stitch Fix or Trunk Club have to offer

Like Olivia Pope and Raymond Reddington had a fashion baby

What's your spirit animal?










Your personal hell is…

A three-hour meeting with no food

Endless, icy rejection

Having to order off a Dollar Menu

Los Angeles


Public speaking. While naked.

A week without internet access

A group project where no one but you does anything

Filling out time sheets

Among your friends, you're known as…

The Responsible One

The Crazy One

The Sarcastic One

The Genius

The Charmer

The Brutally Honest One

The Stylish One

The Overthinker

The Mellow One

If you had to switch careers, you'd become…

A venture capitalist

A singer-songwriter

A cop

A computer scientist

A circus ringleader

A politician's chief adviser

A performance artist

A woodworker

A chef

What's the best perk an employer can offer?

Fresh-brewed gourmet coffee, 24/7

Bring your dog to work

Everyone gets a private office

Open bar after 4

401(k) with a 1-to-1 match

Unlimited maternity/paternity leave

Annual company getaway to Barbados

Work from home whenever you'd like

Kitchen with free dinner served nightly



Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Taco Bell Is Saving One of Its ‘Biggest Product Launches’ for a Super Bowl Surprise

Taco Bell has created plenty of pregame buzz around its Super Bowl spot without revealing very much at all. The Yum! Brands fast-food chain teased its first appearance since 2013 with a cheeky Jan. 7 press release. While much of the text was comically redacted, we do know that a 30-second spot from Deutsch L.A. will air during the first quarter, touting one of Taco Bell's "biggest product launches to date." And, well, that's about all the chain's said so far. Conjecture has run rampant. Will the big reveal be the Quesalupa—like a chalupa, but much, much cheesier? Taco Bell has been testing that item in some markets. Still, the company insists that it won't say which "food innovation" will bow in the Super Bowl until game day.

We asked Taco Bell's Marisa Thalberg, promoted to chief marketing officer a month ago—after spending her first eight months at the company as head of brand engagement—to dish about what viewers can expect.

Adweek: The redacted press release was a masterstroke—it's generated plenty of hype beyond a single half-minute spot.
Marisa Thalberg: I think it's important to note that we didn't start with the goal of "Let's be a Super Bowl advertiser." For us, this is about having the right big news launching at the right time. We thought we could have a lot of fun introducing it in the biggest game, and biggest media event, of the year. Here's the one clue I'll give you about the campaign: Our partners at Deutsch came up with a great insight a while back, that Taco Bell has at times legitimately ascended to the very top of the pop-culture pyramid—a pipe dream for most brands. So we felt that gave us a right to play there, genuinely and a little whimsically. If you think about that insight, you know how we connect with our fans has to go beyond one TV commercial.

Any worry that, with so much pre-game hype, the commercial, or the food item, will be anti-climactic?
I think my best answer here is, nope!

How does Taco Bell keep the good vibes and buzz going after the game?
If you look at the arc of buzz around many Super Bowl advertisers, it has a sharp decline within a few days following the game. However, the Super Bowl is simply our launching pad for our big new food innovation—that shall not yet be named. We are all focused on having this just be the start of the excitement. Keep an eye out for us a week later on the Grammys, for instance.

So, the Super Bowl ad will be—what? Funny? Absurdly funny? Face-meltingly funny? With celebs? Animation? F/X?
I'd rather under-promise and overdeliver—but think fun, and very clever. That's all I'm giving.

Does having a Super Bowl ad air a few weeks after becoming CMO put added pressure on you?
Being in the Super Bowl is a dream for a CMO.


Taco Bell announced its Super Bowl return with this comical press release.Courtesy of Taco Bell

Generally speaking, what makes a great Super Bowl commercial?
The Super Bowl represents a rare magic moment for marketers where people are actually leaning forward and ready to embrace advertising as opposed to rejecting it. This is actually an excellent reminder that even in our highly fragmented media world, great storytelling remains the best way to break through. As such, I think advertising that rewards consumers for being smart, with an idea that isn't gratuitous but makes you legitimately smile, feel something and/or surprises you in a good way—that wins. Also, the idea needs to feel right coming from the brand that does it. On a business level, it's a poor—not to mention extremely expensive—investment if your commercial doesn't leverage this massive audience to incite action.

Do you have any favorite Super Bowl ads?
I will risk lapsing into cliché here, but I'm going to answer this with the spots that remain memorable to me without even having to think hard about it—and that's significant in and of itself. I loved the nuanced emotion of the classic Coca-Cola "Mean Joe Greene" spot, and, more recently, Volkswagen's "Darth Vader kid" spot. I also absolutely loved that when Google made its first foray into TV a few years ago, it was so simple and artful with their "Parisian Love" story. Perfection. For just being epic, who can forget Apple's iconic "1984" spot? On a more humorous side, I thought the way Snickers used Betty White was fabulous. Interestingly, all of these show at least an implicit understanding of the cultural zeitgeist.

Can you think of any you especially dislike?
Let's just say I have a real disdain for lowest common-denominator jokes. Fans of the game and fans of advertising deserve better.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 1 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

After Years of Scant Ad Support, SnackWell’s and Back to Nature Pick a New Agency

So far in 2016, GKV is bulking up on accounts in the healthy lifestyles category.

Today, the independent agency in Baltimore said it added creative and media chores for SnackWell's and Back to Nature to its roster. Both brands are part of the Back to Nature Foods portfolio.

The mission: convince consumers to give the brands a try—and, hopefully, integrate them into their daily regimens. Toward that end, a mix of traditional and digital advertising, social media and experiential sampling is planned.

GKV picked up the assignment following a review. The agency specializes in helping challenger brands boost market share, and that expertise played a key role in the client's decision to hire the shop, said Dan Anglemyer, CMO at Back to Nature. GKV's work in the healthy lifestyles category was also a factor in the shop's selection, he said.

As the year began, the agency significantly expanded its relationship with weight-loss company Mediafast, adding media and social to its creative mandate. A national multimedia campaign, tagged "Your Year," is now rolling out nationwide.

For GKV, adding SnackWell's and Back to Nature provides another high-profile platform at a time when "consumers are becoming increasingly vigilant about what they put into their bodies and provide for their families," said Dan Collins, senior vice president at the shop.

SnackWell's provides low-fat cookies and pretzels, among other items, and recently reformulated its product line to remove high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil, and artificial flavors and colors. Back to Nature offers a range of foods—including crackers, granola, trail mix and juice—made without artificial flavors or preservatives.

In recent years, SnackWell's and Back to Nature have received scant ad support, per Kantar Media, so any concerted push by GKV would constitute a major increase in the brands' public profile.

Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

How Arby’s Turned Its Brand Around After Years With an Identity Crisis

Arby's brand president and marketing boss Rob Lynch realized shortly after joining the fast-food chain famous for those stacked-to-the-ceiling roast beef sandwiches that he had his work cut out for him. Standing at the counter of one of his restaurants one afternoon, Lynch recalls, he overheard a customer remark: "Arby's makes really big, meaty sandwiches—I wish they had a chicken sandwich." And yet right there on the menu board were four chicken sandwiches.

"We were hiding in plain sight," Lynch says of the 52-year-old, Atlanta-based company, which, after years of a brand identity crisis, a revolving door of ad agencies and slumping sales, has been busily remaking itself to appeal to a broader swath of consumers—notably younger ones, fast-food's core customers—while staying true to the founders' mission of offering fare that's unlike anything else out there. Lynch sized up his company's issues bluntly at the annual Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando last October. "Our customers were not loving Arby's for a very long time," he told the group. "We had lost about $150,000 in sales per restaurant over a four-year period, which for a brand of our size is essentially catastrophic."

Lynch with CEO Paul Brown at the new store in New York. Sasha Maslov

But since he came aboard in October 2013, Arby's, with 3,300 stores worldwide, has made a number of high-profile changes to its marketing recipe that have dramatically enhanced not only the look and taste of the brand but also its prospects. Right away, Lynch ordered an agency review, and just three months into his tenure, the company tapped a new creative agency, Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis. The agency's CEO Mike Buchner commented at the time that he wanted to "get Arby's back into the conversation." That it did, launching Arby's "We Have the Meats" positioning and executing a brilliant promotion around Jon Stewart's retirement as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

Previously, the marketing message was scattershot. The chain's "Slicing Up Freshness" tag, created by its former agency, MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky, failed to move the needle. About Fallon, Lynch says, "We felt like they were going to be our partners in building something special."

Also under Lynch, Arby's would be responsible for one of the most talked-about marketing executions in recent years, when, on the night of the 2014 Grammy Awards, it tweeted about Pharrell Williams' hat and how much it looked like Arby's own brand icon—a message that got retweeted some 80,000 times and that generated 6,000 new followers for the brand.

Most importantly, the company that just a couple of years ago saw business stall has experienced a mighty turnaround, with same-store sales growing 9.6 percent in the third quarter of last year. (July and August were the best months in its history.) It was the 11th consecutive quarter the chain outperformed the quick-service restaurant category, per NPD Group.

Arby's is in good company—fast food is on a roll these days. Despite the trend toward healthier eating and a barrage of negative press concerning fast food's role in the obesity epidemic, sales for the three leading burger chains—McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King—were all up in 2015, with each poised to report stronger year-end earnings, according to analysts. While there was some initial grousing among franchisees, McDonald's all-day breakfast menu turned out to be a big hit with consumers—aiding a 3.5 percent uptick in same-store sales in the third quarter, its best showing in four years. More recently, McDonald's and Wendy's have been competing for price-conscious consumers by tweaking and promoting their dollar menus.

Arby's has been on a roll since Lynch came aboard. Sasha Maslov

Lynch was not unfamiliar with the plight of a fast-food brand in need of a refresh prior to joining Arby's. His previous job was as CMO of Yum Brands' Taco Bell, where he earned accolades for taking a chain that was hemorrhaging business and igniting consumer interest with innovations including the most successful launch in the company's history, Doritos Locos Tacos. (Last week, Taco Bell promoted chief brand engagement officer Marisa Thalberg to CMO, replacing Chris Brandt, who left the company. Earlier this month, Taco Bell, in a clever press release strewn with heavily redacted copy, promised to unveil "what could be its biggest food creation yet" in an ad by Deutsch LA during Super Bowl 50. Taco Bell returns to the game this year after three years of sitting out.)

"What I saw in [Lynch] was a person with a great marketing pedigree but also a real ability to think creatively about the business, because I believed very strongly that if Arby's was going to get where it needed to go, we had to think differently," says CEO Paul Brown, formerly a top executive with Hilton and Expedia who had been at Arby's just three months before he hired Lynch. "We could not do things the way that other companies in our space did things."

If you haven't been inside an Arby's lately, you probably wouldn't recognize the place. Last year, the company opened 60 new U.S. locations and remodeled 100 more to institute a look more aligned with that of a fast-casual restaurant like Panera Bread or Cosi than the typical fast-food outlet—a more stylish, upmarket feel, with lots of wood and subway-tiled walls and retro light fixtures. ("The menu is a great way to tell a story. The interior is a great way to reinforce the story," says Kate Edwards, a food industry consultant.) Hundreds more new and remodeled sites are set to open this year.

No doubt, Arby's highest-profile opening was this past December, in midtown Manhattan, a few steps from the heavily trafficked area around Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. It had been nearly a decade since the company had an outpost in New York.

Realizing that the way to the heart of a journalist is through his or her stomach, Arby's, just prior to the store's grand opening, rented a bus and took food writers on a "meat tour" of New York that included the legendary Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side and the Old Homestead Steakhouse. The tour ended at the new Arby's, where reporters and bloggers were served Smokehouse Turkey and Brisket Sandwiches and Corned Beef 'n Cheese Sliders. The sliders were an especially popular addition to the menu. Arby's introduced the mini sandwiches—made with one's choice of meat, including corned beef, ham or jalapeño roast beef—on Aug. 31 of last year. By the end of September, it had sold 29 million of them nationwide—equal to the weight, Arby's boasted, of five Statues of Liberty. Among other new items are the Mega Meat Stacks, Steak Fajita Flatbreads and Loaded Italian Sandwiches, plus a "loaded"—as in with cheese, bacon and ranch—version of its famous curly fries. Fish and Angus steak sandwiches, wraps and salads are also featured.

Arby's was not the only fast-food chain to make a splash by entering the New York market lately—the other being Chick-fil-A last October. (The store voluntarily shut its doors Dec. 30 after being cited by the New York City Department of Health for code violations—including the presence of fruit flies—but reopened Jan. 5.)

For Arby's, like any brand, setting up shop in the country's media capital has obvious benefits. But the chain might never have moved into the market had it not been for the taunts of a certain late-night television host.

Beginning around the time Lynch joined the company, Arby's, as luck would have it, became a favorite punch line of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Among his more pungent broadsides: "Arby's, the meat that is a dare for your colon." "It's like if a stomach could get punched in the balls." "Technically it's food."

Instead of getting its back up over the bewildering assault, Arby's and agency Fallon decided to play along. Every time the host would lob a verbal grenade, Arby's would send him and his staff lunch. Over time, Arby's would build a friendly relationship with the Daily Show staff, and when Stewart announced his retirement, Arby's gamely tweeted him a link to its job site. The following night, Stewart spent the first five minutes of his show talking about it, calling Arby's "a worthy adversary."

Then, when it came time for Stewart to sign off last October, Arby's and Fallon crafted a pair of farewell ads timed to his finale, including a 60-second integration—dubbed "Thank You for Being a Friend," set to the Andrew Gold tune and theme song of The Golden Girls—featuring some of the comic's more brutal barbs. ("Not sure why," went the kicker, "but we'll miss you.") Stewart introduced the piece—as Lynch and Brown both sat in the studio audience, right on the front row.

"We truly believe that people were getting the joke, and they did," recalls Lynch. "Almost zero negative conversation about that. So that to me is indicative of a brand that knows who it is, knows who its customers are, knows what kind of relationship we have with our customers and are willing to take chances."

Lynch notes that the back-and-forth with Stewart even contributed to Arby's decision to enter New York. "We feel like this is a place where there's an energy and a vibrancy, and we want to be a part of that, and we want our brand to be a part of that," he says.

Opening a Manhattan location and trading cracks with a late-night host are certainly a long way from Arby's roots. When Leroy and Forrest Raffel—aka the Raffel brothers, or "R.B.," hence "Arby's"—opened their first restaurant in Boardman, Ohio, in the summer of 1964, it served roast beef sandwiches (for 69 cents apiece), potato chips (those distinctive curly fries wouldn't come until 1988), the soon-to-become-legend Jamocha Shake and Texas-size iced tea—a radical menu at a time when burgers were pretty much the only fast-food fare.

But there was another difference.

"Their vision," says Lynch, "was to deliver a higher-quality product that they could charge a little more for, and differentiate from the rest of the industry."

Half a century later, and that differentiation has Arby's back in prime form.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.

Indie Agency GKV Takes on Media and Social Duties for This Weight-Loss Company

The independent ad agency GKV has added media and social duties for nutrition and weight-loss company Medifast. There were no incumbent agencies for those assignments. Rather, the client has used various partners and internal resources.

The move represents an expansion of duties for Baltimore-based GKV, as the agency has handled Medifast's creative for the past two years.

"We saw this as a natural extension of our relationship," said Brian Kagen, client CMO.

Medifast spent $27 million on U.S. advertising in 2014, but just $11.4 million in the first three-quarters of last year.

GKV created a campaign for the brand in 2015 around the line "Your whole world gets better." A new push themed "Your Year" is primed to drop next week. The campaign includes TV, digital, social and other elements that show what weight-loss success would look like on a month-by-month and season-by-season basis.

The agency prides itself on helping challenger brands succeed, and would appear to have its work cut out as it takes on a broader role with Medifast. The brand itself has been slimming down of late, reporting third-quarter revenue of $66 million, compared to more than $69 million for the same period a year ago. For the first three-quarters of 2015, sales slipped about 5 percent.

Article originally appeared on Adweek Advertising & Branding: Link.