AMC’s “The Pitch” premiered Sunday with a sneak-peek episode that featured advertising agencies McKinney and Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener competing head-to-head to create a winning ad campaign aimed at bringing 18- to 24-year-olds to Subway for breakfast. In the end, McKinney won for its “Wake Up Your Taste Buds” campaign featuring YouTube rapper Mac Lethal. I interviewed Subway Chief Marketing Officer Tony Pace about what the company hoped to gain from “The Pitch” and what Subway looks for in a winning ad campaign.
What does Subway hope to get out of its participation in “The Pitch”?
We’re always in search of great content that we can extend through our digital channels. We have had a lot of success with other branded integrations and felt some of the work created by the winning agency could ultimately be translated for use in the digital space.
What is Subway looking for in a winning ad pitch?
We’re looking for young, fresh and “big” ideas that have never been done before, but still connect with our customers on a personal level. At the end of the day, it’s the customer we’re trying to appeal to, so understanding our business and our customer are key.
What is the worst mistake an ad agency could make when pitching to Subway?
Not pushing the limits and not understanding our business are big mistakes. The [quickservice restaurant] industry is fiercely competitive, and there really is little margin for error. We’re constantly in search of partners that “get it” and can help us remain ahead of the pack.
How is marketing food different than marketing other products? And how is marketing Subway different than marketing other quickservice restaurants?
Food marketing is about the experience and it’s deeply personal. Subway understands this better than most brands in our industry and we’re able to deliver on the experience — offering our customers the opportunity to personalize their meals each time they come into one of our stores. Customization is definitely something that’s unique to Subway and one of the biggest draws for our customers.
Last year, Subway had the highest Buzz score of any QSR. How does Subway plan to maintain and/or boost its positive reputation with consumers?
We’re proud to be YouGov BrandIndex’s most buzzed about brand for two consecutive years. Every day we listen to, learn from and amplify our conversations with consumers to continue to remain relevant and foster a genuine experience with Subway through our social media, digital and off-line engagement. Each channel provides another avenue for us to have a dialogue with our customers, extending the conversation beyond our stores. When engaging, we work hard to keep our brand voice and communications welcoming and friendly to invite consumers to have an experience with us and invite Subway into their lives.