- Arby's this week launched a mobile web app that identifies types of French fries in honor of National French Fry Day (July 13), according to press materials emailed to Marketing Dive.
- The camera-powered feature, titled "Field Guide to Fries," lets users snap a photo of their snack to determine its variety and faux scientific classification — curly (curlius frysius), crinkle (crinklus potaticus) or common fry. Users are then offered 50% off a sandwich after registering for Arby's emails.
- Arby's French fry stunt this week follows the chain's expansion of its fry offerings in March to include the crinkle variety as a permanent menu item.
Inspired by elements of modern birdwatching apps that can identify fowl through photos, Arby's new AI-powered app shows how brands can harness entertaining mobile tech to generate buzz around a new product.
The app is a quirky stunt that lets users identify the type of fries they're already eating, in a similar manner to the music app Shazam that can detect a song or artists with a brief audio clip. Developing the feature as a mobile web application could translate to higher engagement for the brand, as people can use the feature without needing to download a traditional app for one-time use.
Meanwhile, promoting the effort on Instagram may help to extend the effort's reach to Arby's 380,000 followers and beyond. Tying the web app to a sandwich coupon may compel people to sign up for Arby's emails, opening a direct channel for the chain to communicate with consumers and gather first-party data such as fans' names and email addresses.
Arby's for years has integrated mobile tech and social media into its marketing approach. It promoted the 2009 debut of its BBQ Bacon Cheddar Roastburger with an SMS campaign, and in 2016 referenced Mortal Kombat XL's release by tweeting a photo of the video game's logo recreated with curly fries. Arby's in 2020 created a special menu item after interactions between the chain and a TikTok creator began trending, demonstrating how the brand is interacting with consumers online and nurturing longer-term fandom.
The TikTok interaction last year was one of the first viral social moments under Arby's new CMO Patrick Schwing. He was named chief marketer in March 2020 after years at Procter & Gamble, where he helped its brands embrace digital and mobile technologies as part of larger brand-building efforts.