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Brand Strategy Subway Media Planning and Buying

Subway’s marketing VP on how it’s spending its biggest ad investment to date


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

June 1, 2023 | 5 min read

Subway UK and Ireland has dropped its biggest advertising campaign in 25 years spending eight figures on promoting its new Subway Series menu.

Subway drops new menu with an eight-figure marketing campaign

Subway drops new menu with an eight-figure marketing campaign / Subway

The major investment is part of the sandwich chain’s transformation plan under its chief exec John Chidsey, which includes refreshed menus, store revamps, and a significant cash injection in its advertising.

The ‘Two ways to Subway’ campaign dropped yesterday (May 31) on social, press, radio and out of home. Subway’s vice-president of marketing EMEA Louise Wardle, has led the delivery of the year-long campaign.

Her ambitious media plan is projected to reach 96% of 18- to 44-year-olds in the UK and Ireland. PR, influencers and social will also be used in the mix whilst CRM and the Subway loyalty scheme will target and personalize regular customers. “The new menu allows us to target by occasion which is something new,” Wardle added. For example, the Submelts are aimed at late-night snacking, and the Big Breakwich is for breakfast.

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Since Subway is known for creating bespoke sandwiches, Wardle’s marketing challenge was how to communicate different behavior messages while promoting 18 individual subs. “We’ve debated and worked with Saatchi and Saatchi to make sure that our marketing does that, which is why we've got such a broad omnichannel marketing approach because you can only say so many things in so many channels. Hence why radio does one job TV does another job, social does another job,” she says.

A week later Subway will release a TV spot created by Saatchi and Saatchi, and will reveal a significant partnership. The spot marks Subway’s return to TV after several years off the air. “The reason we're going back on TV is simply to reach 18- to 44-year-olds, and the media plan gives us 96% reach. TV just forms part of that to make sure that that reach happens,” Wardle says.

With its TV and radio spots, Subway has tried to create debates about which way is better but its shorter social spots spotlight the menu. There will also be co-marketing activations from Subway’s partner brands like Doritos, Pepsi, and Heinz and then also with its delivery partners such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo. “There's so much new to talk about and so many builds [subs] marketing will be drip fed throughout the year,” Wardle explains.

Subway has called on numerous agencies to support the campaign along with Saatchi and Saatchi who created the TV ad, Publicis Groupe agencies MSL UK, Taylor Herring, Digitas, and media agency EssenceMediacom and Teneo for PR in the Republic of Ireland.

The Subway Series menu launched in the US last year and was piloted in the UK in July last year. The initial testing showed 79% of customers would order from the menu again. Consumer insight told Subway that there are two types of people those who like to build their own sandwiches and those who like to point, Wardle says. “Our insight told us there are two types of people and we tested it and now our point has been proven,” she says.

“Ultimately, we need to drive traffic and sales and to enable us to do that we look at all elements of the mix. So, whether it's customer service, whether it's the make-up of the menu, all the kitchen ergonomics, that's all been looked at to make sure that what we're launching is going to enable the franchisees to make as much to be as profitable as possible,” Wardle says.

The brand has trained 2,800 store staff to get them excited about the new direction. “So that really is part of the transformation it’s not just marketing,” Wardle says.

Brand Strategy Subway Media Planning and Buying

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