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Brand of the Week: Subway

August 4 2017
Announcing plans for a “digital makeover” across all facets of their business last year, Subway is staying true to their word. Already outspending their digital advertising budget for 2016 by over $2M, and with five months left in the current calendar year, the world’s largest sandwich chain is trying to keep up with the times and target millennial consumers. Doing away with messaging focused on healthy eating, the brand is repositioning itself with a new digital team and also, a new [recently announced] agency review.
 
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Subway is the current ninth top digital advertising spender in the Food & Drink category, spending over $4M across desktop, mobile, and video over the last thirty days. The brand just began upping their video spend for the first time this year in July, now accounting for just over 60% of their entire digital budget. Throughout 2017, Subway has focused more on desktop/display placements before switching their mix in the beginning of Q3. Download their full digital advertising plan in the new Brand of the Week report, and read on for highlights from their current creative strategy.

Targeting YouTube

In the Summer of 2016, Subway looked to Hulu and YouTube for video advertising placements, running both pre-roll and homepage banner creatives. This year, the sandwich-focused QSR cut Hulu out of their site list completely and put the majority of their dollars on YouTube. 
Running a high-value homepage takeover on July 17th and 18th, the brand also ran a 15-second pre-roll video creative that ranks as the top creative over the last month, and the second top creative for the entire year by spend. 
 
Over $2.5M was spent on the creative below, seen only on YouTube, garnering 125M impressions for the brand. The creative was also uploaded on Subway’s YouTube page and currently has over 3.3M views.
 
 
 

 For the Kids

Promoting their Fresh Fit for Kids meals, Subway also ran a campaign for the movie Cars 3 targeted to children enticing them with a free digital watch. This isn’t the first time that Subway has run a campaign alongside the release of a Disney Pixar film, in 2016 the brand ran campaigns for Moana and the Jungle Book. Distinguishing themselves as a destination for kid-friendly food continues to be an important part of their marketing plan.
 
The exciting, 15-second pre-roll video creative below ran on Disney.com as well as other Disney entities like Go.com, DisneyChannel.com, Babble, and Disney Junior. Released on June 5th and running until July 17th, over $108K was spent on the creative making it the third top creative for the brand over the last thirty days, yielding 2.9M digital impressions.

 

The Sandwich King
To appeal to the millennial crowd that Food Network is also trying to win over, Subway featured Jeff Mauro, winner of Food Network Star and host of Sandwich King on the Food Network in a recent creative campaign. “Watch Jeff Mauro Build it Better” is the messaging that runs across the display creatives that were detected on a bevy of Scripps sites including [of course] Food Network, HGTV, DIY, Travel Channel, and the Cooking Channel. 

The co-branding gets even deeper when you click through to the landing page accompanying the creative and you’re brought to a fully sponsored Subway page on Food Network’s site. After you figure out your “Sandwich Mood” and take tips from the Food Blogger Network on the best sandwiches to appease your Summer appetite, the calls-to-action at the bottom allow you to search for a Subway location near you, or order online (cue that digital makeover again). Over $100K was spent between the two creatives below, bringing in over 8M impressions.

subway_foodnetwork_creative2.png

subway_foodnetwork_creative1.png

 

See Subway's Full Ad Strategy [Free Report] 

If you’re an agency vying for Subway’s huge digital account, make sure video is a key part of your strategy. Also, be on the look out for outside opportunities that fall in line with Subway’s brand messaging like the Jeff Mauro campaign or upcoming Disney Pixar films. To see exactly how the sandwich chain has been spending their digital budget over the last thirty days, including top sites and programmatic spend, download the latest Brand of the Week report below.

Download Subway's Digital Ad Strategy

About Author

Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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