Creative Spotlight: August’s Standout Campaign

Welcome to the second feature in our new Creative Spotlight series. Each month we select an advertising campaign that’s been making waves in the industry and put it to the (At)test by surveying 250 UK consumers.

Brand: Subway

Campaign:Make It What You Want

Agency: Above & Beyond

What the agency says about the ad

“We’ve launched a new campaign reminding the world that you can always get exactly what you want at Subway – no matter what happens. Introducing the brand’s new global ‘Make It What You Want’ platform to the UK, the campaign showcases Subway’s new and improved menu which gives customers even more ways to customise their lunch exactly how they want… and not everyone is happy about it. The campaign, which will run across the UK and Ireland, kicks off with a TV ad and is soon to be followed by similarly mischievous executions across press, OOH and in-store.”

Why it’s making waves

Subway is taking a powerful sideswipe at its competitors with this ad, which features the (barely-disguised) mascots associated with McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King in a fight. 

Ronald McDonald – who no longer appears in UK ads for McDonald’s after coming under fire for promoting unhealthy food to kids – is seen jumping from a car that has smashed through a wall onto the set of a Subway commercial. He shouts, “You can’t give people this much choice” before attempting to upset the filming. Colonel Sanders and Burger King (who looks somewhat disturbing in a red ski mask) start tackling crew members and eventually cut the ad short after getting hold of the camera. 

This is Above & Beyond’s first campaign since being appointed by Subway in May and is part of the brand’s “Fresh forward” redesign plan, which also includes new store fits. The advert aims to promote the extended choice offered by Subway’s new menu. 

“It’s hugely exciting to have met Subway at such a pivotal point in the brand’s journey,” David Billing, Partner and Chief Creative Officer at Above & Beyond, told Campaign. “There’s a real energy, a fighting spirit in the brand now and they’re committed to making bold work that gets noticed.”

According to our Q3 Brand Index, Subway has already landed a suckerpunch on its competitors – it was this quarters’ most successful brand across six key attributes, including having the most inclusive menu for those with dietary requirements. Meanwhile, the brand index indicates McDonald’s was voted as the brand with the least inclusive menu. 

Let’s see what consumers made of this ad, which promotes Subway’s versatile offering at the expense of other popular fast-food brands…

What was the overall opinion?

The response to Subway’s new ad was generally positive, with the largest single percentage of respondents (34%) giving it four out of five stars. However, the second-largest percentage (25.6%) rated the ad three stars, bringing down its weighted average to 3.2 stars. 

How many stars would you give this advert out of 5? (with 5 meaning you like it a lot and 1 meaning you really dislike it)

What did consumers think?

When asked what words they would use to describe Subway’s advert, respondents were most likely to choose ‘funny’ (47.2%). Nearly 37% also thought the ad was ‘unique’. That said, a not insignificant percentage – almost 21% – declared the creative ‘stupid’.

Which of the following words would you use to describe this advert?

What did you like most about this advert?

What did you least like about this advert?

Does the ad get people talking?

With its somewhat controversial subject matter, you might have expected this ad to get people talking. Adding together those who are ‘likely’ and ‘very likely’ to discuss the ad, we see that a decent 44% think they might talk about it. This is almost 11 percentage points higher than those who say they are ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to have a conversation about the Subway advert (32.8%). 

It is interesting to note, though, that almost 20% of people set out their stand as being ‘very unlikely’ to discuss that ad (versus the 11.6% who are ‘very likely’), which is something Subway might want to explore further.

How likely are you to share or discuss this advert with your friends?

Are people more likely to buy after watching the advert?

The ad might have received a middle of the road star rating but it looks like it has had a positive impact on purchase intent. Just over 46% of respondents said they were more likely to buy after watching it. A further 46.4% said it had no impact on their likeness to eat at Subway.

There is potential for this creative to backfire, with consumers disliking its attack on other fast-food brands. The good news for Subway is that only 7.4% of respondents said the ad has made them less likely to buy.

After seeing this advert are you more or less likely to buy Subway products?

The takeaway

There’s no denying this campaign concept was a bold choice – taking your rival’s mascots and making a mockery of them is going to get you noticed. But is it a cheap shot? Does Subway need to criticise others to make itself look good?

While some did appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humour of the ad, others thought Subway should have stayed focused on its own offering. Most ironically, people commented on how they enjoyed the beginning of the ad, which features delicious-looking food imagery. It goes to show that the traditional tactics still work!

Want to see what consumers think of your ad campaign? Check out our Complete Guide to Creative Testing or call us to get started.

Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.

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