You'd usually think of Taco Bell or Mountain Dew as the gaming champs, but a certain roast beef-obsessed fast food chain is creeping up and taking over with a marketing department that clearly loves anime and gaming culture.
Social media marketing is a vital part of any company's advertising strategy, and Arby's made a conscious choice to change tactics away from "buy this meal for this price" posts to much more engaging and organic images that people actually want to share.
Every new post features a hilarious composition of reliable comment types -- a few clueless people trying to puzzle out what that reference means, super fans who are in heaven, a call for the team to get a raise, and backlash from the bored Facebook and Twitter crowds who are upset people are talking about video games for some reason. Every now and again, cheers of joy will erupt in the comments when pop culture references show up that a wider range of people actually understand, such as Clue, Aliens, or Discworld.
Despite going really obscure with some of the video game references, the Arby's team has created an advertising juggernaut here because they perfectly meet at the intersection of gaming, nerd culture, and crafting fanatics. Some of these posts ahead are truly works of art that clearly took an absurd amount of time to construct out of Arby's boxes, bags, and even sauce packets!
Note: All photo rights belong to Arby's -- we're just appreciating these perfect references.
The reigning Battle Royale king Fortnite landing on iOS devices is the current talk of the town (with Android users more than a little jealous), so of course Arby's jumped on that immediately.
This one has it all -- the bush that players love to be while sneaking around the map, and a reference to the difficulty in actually making it into the mobile beta at this point!
Game: Monster Hunter World
You ever look at that really artistic spray paint wall graffiti and wonder, "How in the hell did they do that and get such amazing can control?" Yeah, now I'm trying to figure out how someone has such amazing Arby's BBQ sauce packet control to create the Monster Hunter guild symbol! Just one slight twitch of the wrist and this could have been a disaster.
Game: Tomb Raider
The cookie causing the eclipse just brings this one together (but who goes to a fast food place for the cookies?). With the pickaxe in hand, this is clearly meant to evoke the newer reboot series that the new movie is based off, rather than original tank top and shorts Lara Croft.
Game: The Legend Of Zelda
While Breath of the Wild might be the only thing Zelda fans care about right now, it's the classics that will always be remembered. They didn't even have to make a cardboard sword for the reference to work. Three triangles tells us Triforce, and in this case, a pretty darn tasty one made out of fried potatoes!
For a generation that grew up with Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, news of the remastered N.Sane Trilogy was like a breath of fresh air, and it didn't take long for word to spread on social media. The TNT boxes are fine and all, but it's really the cardboard sleeve gloves that push this one over the top and show off the level of detail.
Another totally classic and retro reference, this one takes us way, waaaaay back to the NES days of the earliest Samus adventures. Not only does this post successfully make me want some curly fries, but now it's got me wondering: When is that Metroid Prime 4 finally going to show up for the Switch?
Speaking of the Switch, you had to know this one was coming, right? I never would have thought "Nintendo console = roast beef sandwiches," but somehow they made the connection with the beefy/portable comment. Those adorable little Switch Joy-Con buttons are also kind of amazing.
Game: Jet Set Radio Future
Whoa, they are going old school and fairly obscure with this one, as the original game came out in 2000, and Jet Set Radio Future came out in '02. I'm hoping the resurrection of interest in this series from the social media posts might spur on some news soon, as Sega has been showing some proclivity towards resurrecting older IPs.
Series: Final Fantasy
Obviously it's kweh, you uncultured swine! OK, I guess it can be both. Seriously though, that sandwich box chocobo is a thing of beauty. I shudder to think of the amount of work that had to go into crafting this guy, and I'm a little disturbed by the connotation of the chicken sandwiches next to him.... Maybe one day we'll get a saddled Chocobo creation in a Final Fantasy Tactics style?
Game: Nier Automata
This inexplicably awesome (and constantly genre-hopping) game managed to shake up the GOTY expectations early in 2017 with its combination of androids, giant swords, and killer robot enemies.
The swords and drones are spot-on here, although I'm kind of wondering if 2B as a "shake" is supposed to be a reference to her exposed behind throughout the game....
Game: Gravity Rush
This Vita title wasn't exactly well known to the masses at large, so it was sort of surprising to see a sideways image of Kat pop up in the Arby's feed, but clearly the fans were happy to see this lesser-known action-adventure title get a little fast food love. If you remember this game and want to see more, be sure to leave a comment!
Game: Life Is Strange
How do you say so much with so little? Even without the caption, it would have been clear what was happening here. Although sadly, the reference did leave the post wide open to all sorts of comments about wanting to rewind time back before eating that meal.
Game: Kingdom Hearts 2.8
How can there be so many games in this series, yet none of them have managed to be Kingdom Hearts III yet? This post was kind of torture for the fans who have been patiently waiting for the next real sequel, although it did hilariously spur on a slew of photo responses in which diners set their keys next to a sandwich.
Game: Chrono Trigger
Featuring dancing robot Gato from the millennial fair, this Chrono Trigger-based caption was pure genius, and it immediately took me back to Saturday afternoon game sessions from my childhood.
The sad, cash-grab PC port might be garbage, but the original SNES version is still one of the best RPGs of all time, and I'm absolutely about to load up ZSNES and replay it tonight.
Game: Shadow of the Colossus
The wisdom of eating a tower of meat that size is definitely in question, but this is an absolutely perfect mixing of game and fast food imagery to get an idea across. It's clear just from a glance that he's about to fight a colossus, and now I'm kind of wondering if I have what it takes to tackle the meat mountain.
Considering you can eat burgers, mushrooms, and even whole turkey legs throughout this series, the idea of Simon's Lunch isn't too far fetched. The best part about this whole thing (other than the box whip), is that one genius fan immediately commented with this exchange:
"Fry monster! You don't belong in this world!"
"It was not by my hand I was again made fresh. I was ordered by humans who wish to fillet me tribute!"
I'm calling it -- fast food sauce packet art is going to become a recognized thing. I mean, if Vincent Castiglia can paint with blood, why not Arby's sauce?
This saucy rendition of the Fallout stat system also just reminded me that I'm 95 hours into Fallout 4 but still haven't actually finished the main storyline after getting side tracked by all the DLC. Nobody ruin the ending for me.
I don't think anyone expected the South Park series to hit its stride with an RPG, but what started with Obsidian's Stick Of Truth and continued with Ubisoft's take in The Fractured But Whole may well be the best games in the franchise. The paper cut-out style of the TV series also clearly lends itself well to cardboard box art!
Series: Super Mario Bros.
Those classic Goombas 'n Boos will always hold a hallowed place in gaming history, even as the series expands out and drastically alters the gameplay with newer iterations like Super Mario Odyssey. That adorable cardboard Goomba has got me thinking a weekend family art project may be in the works!
Is there ANYTHING this crew can't do with those damn boxes?!? It doesn't even look like they had to paint on the red lower sections but just used the colored portions of the sandwich holders to make it fit perfectly. The only way they could have made this better is if it was an ultra-fast moving video with a chainsaw at the end.
It's a good bet we'll continue to see new anime and gaming references pop up in the months ahead, as this is an ad strategy that seems to be working, and there are plenty of games and shows they haven't covered yet.
I'm actually surprised we haven't seen a Secret Of Mana post yet, considering how they have been on top of the re-releases of classic games in recent months.
What was your favorite Arby's gaming reference, and what box art creation do you hope to see come up next? Let us know in the comments!