Subway Takes On Grease In Product Launch Spots


Subway is taking shots at the grease in some other QSR foods in two TV spots for its latest product launch, an Oven Crisp Chicken sub.

The sub's white-meat chicken, tossed in seasoned breading and baked, is being billed as offering "breakthrough" flavor and a crispy texture "without the calories and fat of a traditional fried chicken sandwich" -- and the sub chain clearly has high expectations for it. "We're always looking for new options that offer great flavor and a good health profile, and this fits that bill perfectly," says Tony Pace, SVP and CMO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.

Subway's nutrition facts show a typical 6" (273-gram) Oven Crisp Chicken sub having 0 trans fat, 6.7 grams total fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat) and 30 milligrams of cholesterol (60 of its 420 calories are from fat). The sandwich also has 23 grams of protein, 67 grams of carbs and 940 milligrams of sodium. (A quick check of KFC's menu shows 0 trans fat in all of its chicken items, with total fat and saturated fat grams per piece ranging from 3.5 to 33 and 1 to 4.5, respectively, depending on the method of preparation and the chicken part.)



Subway's TV spots for the new item, from the MMB agency, don't actually claim that other QSRs do not offer any healthier options -- and in fact opt to focus on burgers grilled in oil/fat and French fries (no specific QSRs mentioned) rather than other fast-food chicken offerings per se.

One of the two spots that began airing over this past weekend, "That's a Lot," shows shots of large quantities of grease, interspersed with shots of burgers cooking on greasy grills and fries in deep fryers, with a voiceover stating: "In one year, U.S. restaurants can produce up to 1.4 billion* pounds of grease ... enough to fill 3,300 kiddie pools ... over 33,000 water coolers ... or 111,000 bird baths ... of course, a lot of it ends up right here [shot of a cheeseburger]."

Another, "Training Day," shows the manager of a generic burger QSR slipping on a greasy floor while showing a trainee how to prepare burgers on a greasy grill -- and how to dispose of the grease that's not ingested in the burgers: a tanker truck outside the front door (see screenshot). The spots then urge consumers to "skip the grease" or "get the deep flavor without the deep fryer" with Subway's new chicken sub.

While these two ads take a decidedly more confrontational approach to conveying Subway's flavorful-but-healthier brand positioning than has been true in Subway's campaigns of recent years, Pace points out that the chain used a similar approach for its 2007 launch of its "Fresh Fit" menu (of which the new chicken sub is a part).

Other new TV ads for the new item, to begin airing about a week from now, will take what's become a more familiar tack: Subway's "Famous Fans" endorsing the sandwich. With football season starting, featured famous sports fans will include the Detroit Lions' Ndamukong Suh, the New York Giants' Justin Tuck, and Super Bowl champion-turned-football broadcasting celeb Michael Strahan (who hosts the "Subway Post Game Show" following Fox Sports football coverage).

Famous Fans will also be promoting the sandwich via messaging/tweets on their social media accounts, complementing Subway's own social media efforts, according to Pace. In addition, the campaign includes ESPN Radio's "Hotline" program, online advertising and print (including Subway's Wednesday front-page franchise position on USA Today's front page), he reports.

If consumer response to the Oven Crisp Chicken sub lives up to Subway's expectations, the chain will continue its "aggressive" marketing support of the item, Pace adds.

Editor's note: The article was amended.

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