What’s in a name? In the case of Subway, you are.
Late last week, Subway announced a nationwide search for the brand’s biggest fan of the chain’s newest rebrand (or “refresh” as stated by Subway). How will said fan show their devotion to the sandwich chain? By legally changing their FIRST name to Subway.
Contestants can enter the sweepstakes at SubwayNameChange.com, now through Aug. 4. The winner will be rewarded with free Subway sandwiches for life.
The chain will reimburse the winner for legal and processing costs for the name change. (Would kind of suck if it didn’t.)
The contest come on the heels of the chain’s "refresh" and introduction of a collection of new “Deli Hero” subs in U.S. locations earlier this summer. Subway says it has already sold two million since their introduction.
This PR stunt is by no means the first time Subway has tried a superfan reward promotion. Last year one insane Colorado superfan camped out for two days to get a footlong tattoo of the Subway Series logo on his back, also in exchange for free Subway for life.
As someone who has tattoos, I know there’s a huge difference between a tattoo and CHANGING YOUR ENTIRE IDENTITY for a QSR chain for free sandwiches. Tattoos can be removed and covered-up. Your passport? Not so much.
But WHY is Subway relying on its “fans” for its own "refresh"? WHY ask someone to change THEIR name? The brand name Subway is still loaded with negative connotations of a former spokesperson and questions regarding the chain’s bread, among other controversies.
"There are good stunts and there are bad stunts. This one falls into the latter,” Traction Chief Executive Officer Adam Kleinberg, which has consulted with such brands as HelloFresh, Meta and Apple, told Marketing Daily.
“The idea has no real insight behind it, with zero cultural relevance,” Kleinberg added. “People are going to roll their eyes and ignore it because it is a joke that simply isn't funny. If you want to capture people’s imagination and generate buzz… you need an idea that tells your story through a lens of culture.
"From a branding perspective, it's also a blunder. Begging for super-fans is not a good look for a brand whose previous super-fan spokesman is rotting in prison. This is only going to remind people of that."
Maybe instead of a "refresh," a renaming would go further for the brand than a one-off customer name promotion.