ADOPTING A FRESH ATTITUDE
50 Word Précis:
This paper outlines how audience insight coupled with smart media
thinking allowed a relative newcomer to a high volume low
involvement category achieve 9% same store sales growth in a
single year across the UK and Ireland.
Category: 2: Communication Excellence Awards
G: Media Excellence
Author: Debbie Kiely
Word Count: 1,953
200 Word Summary:
Subway, the American franchised sandwich chain has been opening
stores across the UK and Ireland since 1996. By the end of 2005 there
were over 500 Subway Stores in operation in these markets and it was
felt there was an opportunity to become a serious contender in the out
of home eating category. During 2005, the Subway franchisee
community got together and decided it was time to hit the hearts and
minds of young people across the country to take their businesses to
the next level.
During 2005 two regional test campaigns were carried out in Granada
and Yorkshire, followed by Scotland which indicated that consumers
were very responsive to Subway’s brand positioning. These test
campaigns resulted in significant sales uplifts which inspired the
franchisees across the UK and Ireland to roll the campaign out across
all markets in 2006.
The brief was to grow store traffic by 9% in a single year. We delivered.
Add one third to Subway’s business, both sales and profits, every year
for three years, starting with a 9% target for 2006.
2006 2007 2008
Brand Innovation Environment
£Y & & & Sales
Value Menu OPS V
Figure 1: 2Subway Business Objectives 2006-2008. Source: Subway.
The challenge was in delivering the business objectives whilst
competing with other advertisers in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR)
category who had in some instances above the line budgets seven times
larger than that at our disposal.
Subway Greggs Wild Bean McD's BK KFC
Figure 2: 2005 Quick Service Restaurant Expenditure - £76,558,852
Figure 3: 2005 Quick Service Restaurant Share of Voice
Deliver an increase of 9% in same stores sales year on year by
increasing customer traffic. The “same stores” measure would be the
key deliverable given the natural sales increase that would occur
through new store openings across the UK and Ireland territories.
At the end of 2005, brand tracking showed that just 22% of all adults
aged 15-50 were spontaneously aware of Subway. Product trial was
even lower with only 13% ever having visited.
Source: BMRB Omnibus Benchmark Tracking Survey, Jan 2006
The sandwich market was worth £3.6 billion and the QSR category was
worth a further £2.8 billion.
Source: Mintel 2005
We were entering a crowded market, with a relatively small budget, low
brand awareness and a consumer attitude that could be described as
confused as to what constituted a healthy diet. However, we believed
we had the ability to take on the traditional QSR retailers and win.
What we knew:
From extensive pre-launch research we identified a core target market
that we christened Demanding Young People Who Know Their Own
Minds. This equated to 19% of the total population or 9 million
individuals who fit the following description:
18-39s, working or studying who DO NOT frequent Subway
currently and who agree with five of the following
I am not easily swayed by others’ views
People have to take me as they find me
I like to pursue a life of challenge, novelty and change
I like to try out new food products
It is important to learn new things throughout life
I enjoy life and don’t worry about the future too much
It is important to be well-informed about things
For our audience, Subway offers a fresh alternative to the trash culture
they reject, not just in food but in all aspects of their lives. They don’t
and won’t compromise their values or their individuality.
We shared similar values:
We knew what our audience were in to. We understood their lifestyles
and eating habits. We also knew that freshness, choice and
convenience sit at the top of their agenda; they filter out anything that is
tired or stale and only grant time to that which is fresh in every sense of
We knew we needed to communicate with a sizeable, discerning group
who are in control of their lives. It was attitude first and demographics
Representative of our target, he is of the “work hard, play harder,
splurge/purge, live in the moment, it’s all about me” mentality. He is a multi
tasking multi platform consumer, living a diverse life, comfortable with,
indeed a demander of, new technology, who expects and actively seeks out
the best that life has to offer. He is the ultimate Consumer in Control. As
such, if we are not relevant to him and his lifestyle, we will be filtered out
To create and drive a connection with our target audience we needed to
have and communicate with a fresh attitude. An attitude that would be
expressed in the tone we used, our media environments, our PR and in-
The idea was to position our brand in media environments that are fresh
– vibrant, innovative, individual and energetic. We recognised that fresh
can mean different things to different people; for some it is about
individualism and innovation, for others it is about dynamism or energy.
Given our budget, we had to develop some smart media thinking. We
couldn’t compete head to head with the burger chains so we had to
outsmart them. We knew our target market were not passive media
consumers waiting to be informed about the latest brand or product,
rather they are interactive information seekers. Our challenge was to be
in the right place at the right time with the right message; position
ourselves at the point of consideration and tip opportunity into
In a high volume, low involvement category with three dominant
advertisers (McDonalds, Burger King and KFC) it was going to be
difficult for Subway to erode market share. With the health issues
surrounding fast food, obesity and a consumer movement seeking
healthier alternatives to the hedonism of the 80’s and early 90’s we
found ourselves in the enviable position of our brand having real
resonance with consumer attitudes. As a genuine alternative to greasy
fast food we could deliver on consumer demands on many fronts. Our
product was made fresh in front of the consumer, tailored to the way
they wanted it – the element of choice available at Subway offers a real
alternative to the competitive set. Subway allows consumers to
customize the menu to suit their requirements.
Brand Clustering by Need
Conv enie nce & v alue Conv enie nce & hun ger
(& o ther s uper markets )
Conv enie nce & quali ty
Freshn ess & quali ty (c ustom made ) Chill o ut & q uality
Subway - clearly well-positioned to meet a fairly wide variety of needs
Figure 4: Source: JUICE Qualitative Research, June 2005
We had a clear understanding of who our audience was and what our
business goals were.
We had a new product offering available to stimulate trial amongst non-
users; the £1.99 Sub of the Day. This, we believed, would serve as our
passport to trial by giving customers a simple mechanism to order in
We understood from our pre-launch research that first time customers
found the menu to be complicated and intimidating but established
users understood the proposition and the variety available.
It can feel I was tempted. I
bewildering… looked in the
intimidating almost window but
decided no, it’s too
At Subway, you’re in
charge of what you
eat. You can make it
as healthy or
unhealthy as you like
Figure 5: Consumer Quotes [Source: Subway UK Qualitative Research conducted by Juice, 2005]
We also knew that promoting a £1.99 offer consistently across the year
would not be sufficient to drive profitable business; therefore a
brand/retail strategy was required.
Competitive Market Context:
By the end of 2005, the QSR category was spending in excess of
£76million with McDonalds, Burger King and KFC accounting for 92% of
all expenditure. During 2005, they had moved into the sandwich sector
with the creation of their own “healthy” alternatives to their core
Figure 6: QSR Visuals
These product launches had received heavy weight media support on
multiple formats including television and outdoor. We knew we couldn’t
shout louder than the established brands in the category but we could
not afford to be a stealth brand either. We needed to be seen and we
needed to create cut through. Television was the natural
communications channel to deliver our primary goal of becoming
visible, fast, whilst radio would be used as a media multiplier to create
compound contacts with our core audience. We knew the programmes
and channels that resonated with them. It was less about the mass and
more about the mindset. The placement of radio airtime during mid
morning would also serve as a call to action during the hours when
people are considering what to have for lunch – the natural daypart for a
sandwich to fit with consumers need state.
Quick Service Incidence (% of orders including )
6.5 6.3 6.4
5.8 5.9 5.9 5.8 6.0
5.0 5.3 5.3 5.0
4.3 4.2 4.2 4.3
YE SEP '01 YE SEP '02 YE SEP '03 YE SEP '04 YE SEP '05 YE SEP '06
Beef Burger Sandwiches Pizza
Chicken Nuggets/Strips Chicken Burger Fried Chicken
Proprietary and conf idential - f or client use only Source: NPD/CREST
Figure 7: Sales Incidence in QSR Outlets – Source: The NPD Group
We knew that sandwiches were the second biggest menu option for
QSR customers and we intended to divert share from the traditional
players into Subway stores. We also knew what our competitors were
up to – how they invested their budgets and where.
25 QSR Distribution of Impacts – Day of Week 2004/05
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Subway KFC BK Pizza Hut McDonalds Natural Delivery
Source: DDS/B ARB
Figure 8: 16-34 QSR Impacts
We decided to buck this trend and adopt a non traditional retail strategy
by investing the bulk of our TV budget into Sunday to Thursday airtime.
The rationale behind this was two fold:
1. Avoid the weekend clutter inherent in the category
2. Drive weekday lunchtime footfall
We identified the freshest channels and programmes that would
position us in the environments that reflected our target audience’s
mindset. We had to achieve sufficient coverage to deliver cost effective
communication whilst also creating a connection with our target
audience. Our strategy was deliberately programme and channel lead.
We maintained a presence on ITV1 to reach the broad demographic and
up-weighted our airtime on C4, Five and multi-channel TV. Only
programmes that had an affinity with our “Demanding Young People”
were targeted; movie premieres, first run American series’, fresh
comedy and premium sporting events.
To optimise investment across the year, we chose three key windows to
promote our message.
The initial burst was designed to kick-start the year by promoting the
value platform through the £1.99 Sub of the Day. January was the ideal
month to roll out our launch – airtime is relatively cheap, viewing is high
and our competitors were traditionally less active at that time of year.
We could not afford to dominate the airwaves on a continuous basis so
we had to be smart with our budget and identify clear windows of
opportunity. Later bursts were also planned to capitalise on periods on
relative quiet within the category. The rationale behind the laydown was
simple: He who shouts loudest gets heard. We knew we could gain
optimum share of voice during these windows and maximise our
Figure 9: Competitive QSR TVRs 2005/2006
We had to ensure that when we were on, we were seen. Campaign
weight would be critical to ensure visibility and build consumer
connection. Targets were set to reach a minimum of 80% of the 16-34
population at least once and 60% three or more times.
We also knew we had to “double job”:
Build a brand for a relatively unknown retailer
Increase store traffic to deliver the key business objective
To achieve this, we recommended combining brand and retail
messages within each campaign flight after the initial SOTD value
focused burst. Subsequent commercials were 30 seconds in length
with 10 seconds of product footage embedded within them. To
optimise budget further, the 10 second commercial was also used as a
stand alone cut-down to deliver frequency of viewing.
Figure 10: QSR TVRs 2005/2006 including Sub way
The execution of the TV strategy dramatically changed the way
Subway’s airtime was bought; by amending the channel mix we
achieved significantly more coverage for the same amount of TVRs
previous campaigns had delivered.
Figure 11: Coverage curve: Source MediaCom
Radio’s role within the marketing mix was to drive store traffic on a
weekday basis, stimulating a response during consideration periods.
The blend of programmes and stations available was mapped against
our target audience and as with TV, only those that resonated with our
Demanding Young People earned their place in executing the strategy.
The campaign was an immediate success. Same store sales during the
initial period rose by a phenomenal 17.6% with a corresponding
increase in traffic of 16% .
16% increase in store
sales growth indicates
the pulling power of the
price point in driving
traffic but without
eroding the value of the
Figure 12: National AUV (Sales) and Traffic (Footfall) increases over the January 2006 campaign [Source: Subway]
More importantly, this uplift in sales and traffic was not a short term
response. Traffic and sales continued to grow across the full 2006
calendar year, consistently out performing 2005.
Figure 13: Traffic by Month, 2006 vs 2005. Subway UK. [Source: Subway]
Figure 14: Sales by Month, 2006 vs 2005. Subway UK. [Source: Subway]
Subway achieved sales growth of +9.8% and footfall growth of +9.1%
without eroding cheque value. Each campaign was tracked to ascertain
its impact not only on sales and footfall but also on brand awareness,
advertising awareness and future purchase intention. Throughout 2006,
all metrics showed positive growth.
The science behind the strategy:
Regular analysis of the key metrics of sales and traffic in same stores
Vs the previous year confirmed we were on track to deliver our first
year’s objectives. We also needed to ensure we were providing a
positive return on investment and not negatively impacting on the
bottom line. We undertook econometric modelling in two of the bigger
macro regions – Carlton and the North which together account for some
40% of total Subway Sales.
Figure 15: Campaign Sales Uplift, source: MediaCom
Figure 16: Return on Investment Index, source: MediaCom
The above figures illustrate the positive return on investment achieved
for all TV campaigns conducted in 2006. The data for Jan/Feb 07 also
indicates we are on the right track to continue to deliver profitable
How do we know it was the advertising and marketing
Nothing else changed significantly:
Store Environment: US template for store builds is still used.
Counter Staff: No significant changes were recorded in Mystery
Price: Sub of the Day at £1.99 was a re-branding/re-positioning of
the existing Daily Special.
Menu Options: No new menu items were introduced during 2006.
More Stores: All KPIs are benchmarked against the same stores
from the previous year.
Short term effect: Econometric modelling indicates the positive
return on investment has carried through to 2007 activity.
Change in Competitive market: Although Subway achieved a 7%
share of voice by the end of 2006, our biggest competitors still
accounted for 89% of all QSR expenditure.
Summary of Success:
Figure 17: Summary of KPI Performance 2006