Can Subway’s Star-Studded Ads Save The Troubled Fast-Food Chain?

It remains to be seen whether the strategy will pay off in the long run. Can Subway’s Star-Studded Ads Save The Troubled Fast-Food Chain? Giphy

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You might have seen one of the many reports asserting that there are more Subway locations around the world than McDonald’s. But that doesn’t mean everything is going great for the sandwich chain.

There have been concerns about the quality and ingredients of the food and a recent buyout by a private-equity firm puts a cloud of uncertainty over the entire company. But there’s one area where Subway seems to shine: recruiting pro athletes to promote its menu.

Creating a narrative

Marketing is a huge part of any company’s strategy, and Subway has long used advertising to portray itself as a healthier alternative to other fast-food chains. We’ll leave it to the nutritionists to determine whether that perception is valid, but plenty of sports figures have been willing to accept corporate cash in exchange for appearing in Subway commercials.

It all plays into the “Eat Fresh” mantra the company has been promoting for years, but spending millions on celebrities without revamping the aging chain is a dubious strategy, says market researcher Barry Thomas.

“The ads drive you into a restaurant that looks and feels like the ‘90s,” he said, adding: “We can’t keep advertising Serena [Williams] with the sandwich if we just don’t deliver on the restaurant.”

Better late than never

Even Subway execs have indirectly acknowledged that the company has let itself go in recent years, but one insider pointed to a “transformation journey” currently underway that will bring “digital innovation and restaurant modernization” to the chain.

And although about half of its restaurants have been remodeled, critics say there’s still a long way to go before the Subway dining experience delivers what its ads portray.

“As we continue to listen to our franchisees and exceed guests’ expectations, our growth journey is far from over,” the company spokesperson concluded.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee June 25th, 2024
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