How TikTok Inspired Arby's New $5 Missing Menu Meal

So special menu deals have been a thing lately, what with Mickey D's dropping their celeb-inspired Travis Scott and J Balvin meals, and Dunkin' getting in on the action with TikTok celeb Charli D'Amelio and her somewhat dubious coffee order. Leave it to Arby's, however, to offer a special meal inspired by an apparent TikTok trolling. TikTok user @h1t1 posted a video to the social media platform on October 22nd, alleging that a flat screen television he'd just bought would only show the Arby's menu. Arby's quickly replied with the comment "We've been looking for this!" and the video soon went viral, racking up 16.5 million views in that odd way that random stuff on TikTok tends to do. (The creator, however, had already posted several TikTok videos with over a million views, so he obviously knows how to work the platform.)

If it ended there, it would be your typical TikTok flash in the pan (or deep fryer). But no, evidently it was a slow day for Arby's, since not only did they comment on the TikToker's reply, but an entire video exchange between the two parties ensued, with Arby's going so far as to get an airplane flying a banner reading: "Hey @H1T1 we want our TV back — @Arby's." The surprising culmination? After the TikToker agreed to finally return the television, Arby's announced a special "$5 Missing Menu Meal" through the platform.

So was the whole thing a hoax?

Shortly after the whole Arby's/TikToker dialogue began, NBC2 News reported that a PR firm in Atlanta sent out an announcement about the airplane video that many major media outlets jumped all over. It is, after all, a pretty clever example of in-the-minute viral marketing. But was the whole thing just a marketing stunt?

Surprisingly, when the outlet did some digging, they found out that Arby's themselves weren't the ones doing the pranking. Instead, that original video was something the Florida teen's dad said he had uploaded as a joke. NBC2 News contacted Arby's for their comment and the chain would not acknowledge whether or not they'd known that the whole thing was made up. While this seems to imply that they really hadn't been aware, Arby's has done very well with the resulting publicity. Mobile Marketer notes that they've gained more than 200,000 followers on their own TikTok account, and advertising gurus are giving Arby's all the props for capitalizing on this TikTok trend a la Ocean Spray with TikTok star Nathan Apodaca's cranberry juice-drinking "Dreams" video.

The Missing Menu Meal, according to Arby's TikTok announcement, first became available on November 6th and will run through the 20th. The deal appears to come with a small drink, a classic roast beef sandwich, and Arby's loaded curly fries. Too bad it doesn't involve any of their yummy deep fried turkey sandwiches, but evidently those don't really need much promoting.