Stewart reminds us that we should not take ourselves too seriously. So, when Arby’s—a frequent target of Stewart’s good-natured digs—honored his exit with a commercial featuring a sentimental ditty from the late 70s, it was a smart tactical move.
Hats off (and that is a hat you see in their logo) to the sandwich maker for recognizing the power of TOMA. TOMA stands for Top Of Mind Awareness, and the reality is that in many categories, purchase intent is highly reflective of awareness level. In the quick serve food business there is an old saying, "share of mind equals share of stomach."
Evidence for the truth of this aphorism lies in the old Wendy's ad when octogenarian Clara Peller asked, "Where's the beef?" Or, in the early 80s when also-ran Burger King wrested the mic away from 800-pound gorilla McDonald's by asking the question: "Broiling vs. Frying?" By simply pointing out the difference in cooking, BK won the war for the consumer's attention and sales followed the TOMA increase. Pounding away at the difference built BK share from 7.6% to 8.3% from 1983 to 1985. The lesson is, if you get the mic, hang on to it!
So, will Arby's "For Jon" spot trigger a sales boost? Let's say this, it can't hurt. And, people are generally favorable to companies who poke fun at themselves.
As for Jon Stewart's swan song? I say, Thank you for being a friend ain't a bad message. We will miss him.