Social and Influencer > Social Insights & Engagement


FALLON, Minneapolis / ARBY'S / 2021


Silver Cannes Lions
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Why is this work relevant for Social & Influencer?

Brands learned how to maximize a Twitter moment in 2013 when Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet showed marketers the way. But since it exploded in late-2018, the benchmark for an effective TikTok engagement had been elusive. Arby’s wasn’t the first brand to get attention on TikTok, but we were the first to show how to turn that luck into modern, lasting engagement that’s measurably effective. Our public “negotiation” with TikTok user @h1t1 showed that the key to a viral moment on TikTok is treating it like an improv game, guided by “yes, and” creativity.


On October 22, a young Florida man by the username @h1t1 posted a simple video on TikTok explaining that he bought a $25 flat screen TV from someone on the internet that would only display an Arby’s Menu. The video started gaining traction online, and given the explosive growth of TikTok, Arby’s saw it as the perfect opportunity to engage with a new generation of potential customers who use the app.

The objective for any Arby’s brand activation is to create an impact in social media and PR of, “holy sh*t, did you see what Arby’s did?!” But in this case, the KPIs to measure the impact of our response to @h1t1 fell into four buckets: TikTok follower gains, TikTok video views and engagement, PR coverage, and hopefully, drive sales amongst a new generation of customers coming to Arby’s.

Describe the creative idea

The culture of TikTok is an improv game, so Arby’s decided it would earn its place in the social conversation by contributing “yes, and” creativity that keeps the back-and-forth going until its natural conclusion.

With that insight in mind, we knew what we had to do next: we had to turn this guy’s TikTok beef with Arby’s into a “negotiation” to get our TV back. And give fans content to engage with along the way.

Describe the strategy

Arby’s current core customer is older, male-skewing, and only casually engaged with social media. But our growth audience is younger suburban millennials with Gen Z kids who have embraced TikTok as their generation’s own social medium.

Unlike Twitter, whose culture is driven by one-upmanship, prizing the kind of mic drop declarations ad agencies are great at, the culture of TikTok is collaborative, creative, and conversational. If we were going to use TikTok to make our mark in social media and this new audience, we were going to have to crack the code on how to authentically engage with its free-wheeling culture. As such, effectiveness wouldn’t just be about new followers and video views, but also translating that on-platform engagement into business results.

Describe the execution

Arby’s seized the opportunity to contribute to the conversation, giving its audience even more reasons to share and participate over the course of two weeks. We hacked an Arby’s menu screen to display @h1t1’s original video. We built a conspiracy wall. We changed our exterior store signs, and we flew an airplane towing a “We Want Our TV Back” banner over his head. Altogether, Arby’s curated real-life moments for @h1t1 to stitch, duet, and create his own original content to keep his fans engaged.

The final “negotiation” consisted of a Mystery Box, which included a giant new TV as well as the announcement of a secret menu deal called “The $5 Missing Menu Meal” available at Arby’s locations nationwide. Arby’s not only turned around this “secret” offer nationwide in less than a week, but it also converted organic TikTok buzz into measurable sales and customer retention.

List the results

The more we “negotiated,” the bigger it got on TikTok. Eventually, it grew enough to inspire off-platform PR coverage. And ultimately, it drew a new generation of customers who’d never been to Arby’s before to come get their secret $5 Missing Menu Meal.


- Over 250K new TikTok followers, representing 88% growth from the time the original video was posted until the end of November.

- Over 273 million TikTok video views, thousands of comments, and over 14K tribute videos created by TikTok users.

- Over 1 billion PR impressions across broadcast and online news media (in the middle of the Presidential election coverage, nonetheless).

- Over 3,000 $5 Missing Menu Meals sold, with 41% of purchasers new or lapsed customers.

- Average transaction for the $5 Missing Menu Meal was double the cost of the deal, meaning customers were trying out other items on our menu as well.

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