Subway has been battling a public-relations nightmare since the arrest and recent conviction of its former pitchman, Jared Fogle, for child pornography and sex charges.
Fogle was one of Subway’s most lucrative spokesmen — reportedly contributing to nearly half of Subway’s growth over the last 15 years — since he became famous for losing more than 200 pounds while eating the restaurant’s sandwiches.
He was recently sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison.
Now the sandwich chain is trying to rebrand itself with a new ad campaign starring Tony Hale, the comedian perhaps best known for his role as Buster Bluth in the television series “Arrested Development.”
Subway is releasing a series of ads starring Hale with the theme “save the lunch break,” Jonathan Maze at Nation’s Restaurant News reports.
In the first video in the series, Hale lurks around an office setting and taunts young professionals, encouraging them to take a lunch break at Subway.
Here’s the ad.
The ads starring Hale will be targeted toward Millennials online.
“We need to start doing a better job of activating through social,” Chris Carroll, Subway chief advertising officer, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Don’t be so conservative, and have fun with it. The ads are fun, not safe.”
Subway is planning to release a new television ad campaign in January created by its newly hired agency, BBDO, according to Maze. Subway hired BBDO in August, one month after it severed ties with Fogle.
Subway also hired former Coca-Cola executive Joseph Tripodi as its new chief marketing officer in December.
On top of the Fogle fiasco, Subway has been suffering from a sales decline. Subway’s sales dropped 3% last year to $11.9 billion, despite opening 778 new stores, according to QSR magazine.
The decline was steeper than for any other of America’s top 25 food chains last year, according to The Washington Post.
Subway rose to become one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world with more than 43,000 outlets by advertising a healthier, fresh alternative to traditional fast food like McDonald’s or Burger King.
Subway was a pioneer in made-to-order sandwiches, prepared right in front of customers by employees taking orders in an assembly-line fashion.
But then, other rivals, such as Chipotle and Panera, started offering even fresher options — like antibiotic-free meats and additive-free guacamole prepared on site.
According to analysts, Subway didn’t evolve quickly enough to meet diners’ changing ideas about what is considered fresh and healthy.
Subway is planning to focus on the freshness of its ingredients in the new ads, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
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