Scenes From A Marketing Intervention on Subway Sandwiches.

OH, SUBWAY, WHEN YOU COMIN' HOME?

Several years ago, I wrote an article for Adweek about the addiction some clients have to promotions at the expense of their branding.

“Should we throw out promotions and go cold turkey?” I asked.  “Of course not. In the retail world, promotions are an essential part of the marketing mix. What I’m suggesting is, first an intervention, and then partial withdrawal.”

Today, I think it’s time we intervene on Subway sandwiches.

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OPEN ON JOHN X, SUBWAY’S CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, OPENING THE DOOR TO SOME DINGY ROOM AT A HAMPTON INN.

INSIDE, HE’S SURPRISED TO SEE A GROUP OF 400 PEOPLE SITTING ON COUCHES, ALL WITH CONCERNED LOOKS.

INTERVENTION MANAGER: Hello John, these people here love your brand a lot and they don’t want to see you killing it anymore.

JOHN, SITTING DOWN: But …

MANAGER: With us today are representatives of the 300 agencies you’ve burned through on your promotional binge. Plus a hundred or so creatives who threw a year of their careers away hoping they might be the one to get you to stick with a decent campaign.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR #1: John, your promotions have affected the brand in the following negative ways. (HE STARTS BLUBBERING) I was up all night going through the YouTube collection of your crappy spots and I’ve never seen you commit to anything.

JOHN: Yeah, but I have all these franchisees who…

CD #1, GETS KLEENEX, CONTINUES: I saw some remarkably stupid shit with people holding up “five fingers for the $5 footlong.” And I cannot count how many idiotic spots I saw with sports figures – John Cena, Michael Phelps, some boxer named Mike Lee. Who the hell is Mike Lee?

CREATIVE DIRECTOR #2: I was so hopeful when you let our agency air the fat-people-eating-burgers stuff, but the next thing we knew, you were whoring around with that “Febru-ANY” campaign. And what happened with that marvelous “Badonka-donk” radio stuff?

JOHN: What about Jared? Whenever we ran him, sales went up.

CD#1: Then fine, stick with Jared but at least do something interesting with him, instead of the insipid, brainless, promotional crap you air.  What are you on, crack?  Jesus, Bob.

MANAGER: Calm down now. … So, Bob. What’s it gonna be? Can you commit to a good mix of brand and promo?  Can you find even a … a decent brand campaign and then really stick with it? And maybe cut back from 600 agencies to five or so?

JOHN: I… I…

THE SUBWAY CMO LEAPS FROM THE COUCH, RUNS,  THE CAMERA FOLLOWS HIM TO THROUGH THE HALLS DOWN TO THE PARKING LOT WHERE WE JARED WAITING FOR HIM IN A CAR. THEY PEEL RUBBER AND DISAPPEAR IN A CLOUD OF BLUE SMOKE.

INTERVENTION MANAGER: Well, he’s on his own. I hope when he wakes up as the assistant product manager for some third-tier regional brand of acne cream, that he’ll finally get it. That he’ll finally see how brand will get you through times of no promotion better than promotions will get you through times of no brand.

 

Things That Suck #249: Misuse of the words “Media” and “Mediums”

What if we started taking agency people seriously when they misused the word “mediums” and just started giving them what they asked for?

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OPEN ON HOLIDAY INN CONFERENCE ROOM. A MEDIA PRESENTATION TO  SUBWAY SANDWICHES IN PROGRESS.

AGENCY GUY: Okay, we’ve talked a lot about having our client’s message show up in as many mediums as possible and today I’d like to take you through some of our early thoughts.

Okay, first off, congrats on the whole idea of buying mediums. Round of applause for our Jerry here. Thanks to the Jer-Man’s memo – “Investing In The Best Mediums” ¬– we are first movers in this category.

First off, nobody else has thought of advertising on mediums, or clairvoyants, or fortune tellers. And people? We intend to own this space. We’ll road-block every goddamn medium in the tri-state area and John Q. Public won’t be able to get his stinkin’ palm read without hearing about Subway’s foot-longs.

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit: Your basic medium, the fortune teller.

Okay, you see a crystal ball, right? Yeah? Well, I see a cash register, people, and it’s ringin’. Can anyone say “give-away”? Oh, yeah. We slap our logo on some cheap clear plastic balls, say something like, “In your future, we see a 10% discount on a Subway.” It’s a win-win, okay? Page me at the pool when the stock splits.

And look at all this forehead space here. So, we get our art guys in here – boom – and now you got paying customers looking square at our Italian BMT while the mediums are goin’ on about, “You gonna drop dead. Heart attack. Oh wait, unless you eat Subway.”

It’s got legs, these mediums. Maybe have the old gypsy start moaning, “S-s-s-someone named Jarel? Jared? He is reaching out to you. He say, ‘Don’t be such a fat fuck. Eat at Subways’.”

Alrighty? Now in addition to mediums, we can stake out territory in witches, gypsies, even bottom-feeders like the guy who guesses your weight at the carnival. And movie tie-in’s? A cake walk. Take the old bitch in Drag Me To Hell? Talk about a call to action. “Eat at Subway’s or roast in Hell until the skin bubbles off your maggot-infested soul.”

I have chills, people. Chills.