Jersey Mike’s Punch Above Their Weight With Rocky Ad

Jersey Mike

Arm Of The Slicer


What do you think of when you hear “Eye Of The Tiger”, the classic Survivor song from Rocky III? You think of determination, sweat, and strength. And now you’ll think of deli meats.

At least, you will if Jersey Mike’s and agency Highdive have anything to do with it. They’ve taken “Eye Of The Tiger” and done a cheeky re-write on the lyrics, turning the song into “Arm Of The Slicer”. What was once a tune about a boxer’s formidable will to win has become a song about Jersey Mike’s deli slicers and their equally formidable abilities at freshly slicing cold meats to go in the chain’s sandwiches. Brand ambassador Danny DeVito shows up too, to introduce the ad and give the slicers an excuse to burst into song.

Tongue-in-cheek song rewrites in ads are having a moment right now. “Arm Of The Slicer” comes hot on the heels of T-Mobile’s Super Bowl spot, in which John Travolta himself repurposed an old Grease track to explain the wonders of broadband coverage. That ad scored 4-Stars, and Jersey Mike’s effort gets a strong 4.5-Stars, with exceptional short-term Spike rating.

It’s easy to see why this tactic works. Cultural references are a killer ingredient for effective ads, and so are big, catchy, well-known songs. It’s no wonder mixing them together works.

This song in particular is a great fit for Jersey Mike’s. Rocky films are the ultimate underdog movies – tributes to the little guy who takes on the best by sheer hard work. That’s a great archetype for a sandwich brand challenging the big QSR players to link itself to – Jersey Mike’s was named the fastest-growing QSR chain last year. Just like Rocky, the ad is saying, Jersey Mike’s is putting in that extra bit of sweat to succeed. Metaphorically, of course.

But there’s more. Why do people get bored of ads? Sometimes it’s because they’re dry lectures about product features. Sometimes it’s because they’re pretentious, pompous or worthy. Taking an old song and making the lyrics about meat slicing or mobile reception avoids both those pitfalls. It goes beyond corny and into funny, while still being 100% about the product and its features.

So “Eye Of The Slicer” isn’t just a tribute to Rocky and his all-timer theme song. It’s also drawing on the tradition of another 80s and 90s star, “Weird” Al Yankovic, whose meat- and polka-themed parodies of rock songs were such a cult success back then. It’s a goofy ad, it knows it is, and that’s why it works.

Jersey Mike’s and Highdive have got just the feel of this ad just right, and with DeVito on board too we’re looking forward to their next feelgood installment.

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