Howard Communication Associates | Blog Writing for Businesses

A lesson from Arby's on turning bad news into good PR for your business

Jon Stewart
There’s a great public relations lesson in the recent conclusion to the long-running conflict between Daily Show host Jon Stewart and the fast food chain, Arby’s.
If you have been a follower of Stewart’s for the past two years, you know he is not a fan of the Arby’s brand. The talk show host has regularly skewered the chain with words like, “shock and awe for your bowels,” “the meal that’s a dare for your colon,” and “the only food classified as a war crime.” Not exactly love notes. 

Now Arby’s could have fired back at Stewart with a lot of indignant blah-blah-blahing about the quality of its ingredients, the attention paid to excellence in its kitchens and other comments of the sort that executives turn to when caught in an awkward spot. But that’s not what they did.

Instead, the company cooked up a creative solution to its imaging problem with a couple of tongue-in-cheek ads that ran during the broadcaster’s final appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The first was a medley of Stewart’s negative comments put to music and ending with the words, “Not sure why, but we’ll miss you.” The second featured a new menu item called the Daily Deli consisting of Stewart’s favorite double corned beef sandwich on rye and dedicated to the departing television icon. Arby’s even poked Stewart on Twitter with the suggestion that he contact them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. when he announced his departure from the show. 

Arby’s good-natured response to Stewart’s public criticism holds a valuable lesson for all business owners struggling to be heard in a crowded marketplace. Use the unique qualities of your own business to set yourself apart from the competition and draw positive attention to your brand. If all PR is good PR, then even weaknesses can be used to turn lemons into lemonade like Arby's.

Pass the pitcher, please.

Want to learn how HCA can help with public relations and communications for your business? Contact us by phone or email at 781.784.5790, 339.364.0689, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit our new website at


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