ToastyTV, a Quiznos Channel, Is Endearingly Very, Very Strange

I don’t think I’m at the point that I’d like to endorse brands getting head deep into the YouTube channel business, but there are certainly worse things to watch than a new Quiznos video, “House of Thrones,” in which Francis Underwood takes his soliloquies to the Seven Kingdoms.

It’s Netflix character- meets-HBO series, an agreeable bit of silliness from the sandwich-maker that has much less of market exposure (and business) than Subway, and has hit upon its own ToastyTV Website and YouTube presence.  

The “Game of Thrones”/"House of Cards"  mash-up has had almost 1.4 million views in the last two weeks. Almost all of them must keep watching because of celeb impersonator Ross Marquand, whose Francis Underwood impression is so spot-on that Kevin Spacey himself tweeted to congratulate him.    

Chris Ruszkowski, the advertising and marketing vice president, pushed for ToastyTV. It’s not so risky all by itself, because, for example, Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” on Hulu has won plaudits for its clever ability to put out a message and promote the brand, too.

In the case of Quiznos, though, advertising like this may raise more eyebrows because the chain is going through bankruptcy, and every unusual move comes with the risk of being used as an example of why it’s in the shape it’s in. Actually, it seems more like Quiznos was victimized by the recession than other kinds of recklessness.

Ruszkowski was approached by Window Seat, a Los Angeles ad agency that is curating the site, and convinced Ruszkowski it was the way to go.  To him, the objective was “to get people to spend time with the brand, and to have some videos that people will share.” He says Quiznos “put a small amount of dollars” behind ToastyTV so far.

“House of Thrones” gives some cover for the rest of the videos that are so, so strange that they should be seen only if you are absolutely sure you have a leaky memory.

These videos things, mainly involving comic vignettes featuring lobsters (Quiznos makes a lobster seafood sub) are scary weird.

For example,  “Lucky Lobster Boy Gets Tail Buttered  By Some Beauties” really seems like the kind of video that could be invented in a movie about a failing chain that falls to making ill-advised videos. That may sound unnecessarily harsh (you haven’t seen the video) but in a way it’s un-self-consciously endearing.  

This is a fast food chain that may be down and out at the moment, but man, it’s winningly wacky.  They do take the lobster thing a little far with “NCIS: Lobsters” and another one in which a giant lobster menaces a beach in the Philippines. And “Lobster Boo-Boo” is as obnoxious as the original.  (Notice the lack of links. I just can’t send you there.)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note right here and now that as a sandwich place, I kind of like Quiznos. But those videos. I can’t shake ‘em.

pj@mediapost.com

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