The Warc Blog

The Warc Blog

Subway's eight tips for branded content
Katherine Mawhinney-Kam, Designer and Production Editor, Warc
Katherine Mawhinney-Kam

Geoffrey Precourt, Warc's US Editor, went to the ANA "TV & Everything Video" forum and has written on the talk given by Tony Pace, SVP/CMO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.

The full report can be found on Warc, but here on the blog you can read Pace's considerations for branded integration:

  • Marketers should want more than a logo. "We like a logo, but everyone knows who we are. You need a message to come across."
  • Make sure there's a logical or strategic fit with the brand. The appeal of Shea Sorrell [the "Biggest" loser challenged by Subway to lose at a $1,000 per-pound lost pace] goes beyond the show. The Subway stake in the payoff "is well worth the risk, even if she loses a hundred pounds. It's rounding out who we are." The next step for Sorrell, he added, may be running in the New York Marathon next November with Fogle. The reason? "A natural fit. A strategic extension."
  • Associate the brand with fresh talent. Pace recalled working on the Coca-Cola account at McCann-Erickson. "We found this guy, Chris Rock, whom nobody knew very well. He did radio ads at scale for us for a couple of years." The key is, "Actively manage what you're doing for no other reason than "you can't be on top of everything." One of Subway's latest bets: a band called Far East Movement featured on the front page of as the "artist you need to know" - with an "FM at Subway" tie-in at
    fresh buzz
  • Strive for seamless integration. The hikers on "The Biggest Loser" were not just walking to work off some calories. The message was clear: They were on their way to a healthy meal at Subway. There's a lot of skepticism about purchase intent, Pace continued. But the post-purchase of Subway "went through the roof."
  • Create unique branded content. ESPN doesn't just do updates on sports news. It offers its viewers "Subway Fresh Takes" on the day's events.
  • Look for cross-platform opportunities. Subway's connection with "Sunday Night is Football Night" goes beyond the NBC telecast. There's also point-of-purchase material. And digital connections. For the network, an in-store placement "gives them an audience of 30 million customers a week. It's a big channel in its own right."
  • Stay within the guardrails. One possible problem with live broadcasts is the risk of brand-compromising conversations. So, Subway provides "reasonable" standards to shape and define conversations and, when necessary, "get back inside the guardrails."
  • Go beyond the core target. Pace allowed, "It's often jokingly said that if you have a mouth and a wallet, you're part of our target audience." But the CMO added that the brand consciously tries to extend its connection beyond the natural core of young consumers. "With 'Fit to Boom,' we have a chance to work with MSN about Baby Boomers who are working into their second acts. It's not so much about the size of the audience, but whether or not the message sticks."

Subjects: Brands, Advertising

18 February 2010 16:45

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