March Madness: Ving Rhames Finally Shows Up for Arby's

And he's so in your face

When Ving Rhames steps out of a commercial, walks into your living-room, and shoves an Arby's sandwich in your face, he expects you to eat the whole thing.

After 10 years as the chain's "We Have the Meats" voiceover guy, Rhames finally appears on screen in an appealingly self-aware spot from Fallon.

Lessons from the :30 below: Do NOT joke about Arby's food or its advertising. Keep munching—or else.

Say It to Arby's

The spot broke during last night's NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, tied to Arby's "Free Sandwich Month" promotion.

Ving's tough-guy schtick is priceless. So is the nerdy dude's food-face, as he chews lustily, eyes rolling upward in delight (or possibly fear).

Kudos to the brand for making itself the butt of a familiar joke early on, and addressing that very issue as the commercial unfolds.

"Internet trolls, along with some Arby's skeptics, recycle the joke, 'Who keeps Arby's in business?' on social media," Fallon creative director Joe Johnson tells Muse. "The most comfortable place for this kind of trash-talking is behind a keyboard or a screen, probably while sitting on your couch. We wanted to go right at it: What would it be like if the Voice of Arby's heard your skepticism? What if the Voice of Arby's showed up to confront you with a sandwich to try?"

You'd damn well try it, that's for sure!

But, why does Ving appear in an ad now? Any special reason?

"There was never a plan to eventually show him—this really was born out of the opportunity to share the offer, and the insight around this group of skeptics," Johnson says. "We've definitely had moments where we considered showing him on-screen. But we wanted it to be the right time, for the right idea."

Director Jake Szymanski (SNL, Funny or Die, The Package) nails the vibe. It's ridiculous, but not overly so. Vaguely threatening, but in a fun way.

"He captured a ton of great improv—too many good jokes, too little time," Johnson recalls. "And Ving did his own stunts, including climbing through the screen."

Not sure that qualifies as a stunt exactly. Still, he could've tripped. So mad props!

PR agency MSL helped develop the campaign, which will run across TV and digital platforms. There's a social series, too. It's called the "Try Detector Test," and challenges real people who've publicly dissed the brand.

Will they eat the whole thing? They'd better. Ving's watching!

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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