Life is Short. Why Not Arby’s?

Business Insider: “On January 14, 2015, a Twitter account named Nihilist Arby’s (@nihilist_arbys) was born, and it didn’t take long for Arby’s corporate office to notice. With a double beef and cheese as its avatar, the angst-ridden account confronted followers with a negation of everything they held dear in life and offered they fill that void with a sandwich and curly fries.” Sample tweet: “Drain the blood, cure and slice the flesh, season and fry the potatoes, feed them the sugar water. Be born. Toil. Die. Arby’s. We sell food.”

“By mid-February, Nihilist Arby’s had 13,000 followers and … a significantly better engagement rate than the real Arby’s account, which had nearly 400,000 followers … in August, Adweek revealed that the man behind the account was Brendan Kelly, an adman from Chicago and longtime punk-band frontman. Arby’s would soon make peace with its nihilist counterpart, flying an executive out to meet Kelly with a bag of food and a puppy.”

The backstory: “Kelly was working at the ad agency FCB when he found himself in a conference room with a brand executive pitching Twitter strategy to the head of social media … He imagined a scenario where someone in charge of a brand’s Twitter account … had a ‘red pill’ experience, a reference to the pill in The Matrix that frees people from an artificial world. This social-media employee would be ‘exposed to how f—ing horrendously tragic life actually is — you know, how meaningless everything is,’ Kelly said, laughing. A phrase that popped into his head was ‘Nihilist Arby’s,’ which had less to do with anything specific about Arby’s and more with how goofy it sounded.”

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