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Nation's Restaurant News (Magazine)
January 9, 2006


Subway teams with Discovery Kids to reach children

By Gregg Cebrzynski
RetailNet.com

Milford, Conn.- Sandwich chain Subway has partnered with the Discovery Kids channel in a comprehensive kids' marketing campaign designed to promote healthy lifestyles and make the brand more appealing to young consumers.

The campaign, which broke Jan. 2, includes TV spots, in-store material and online promotions encouraging children ages 6 to 12 to "play hard and eat fresh" and positions Subway's products as a healthful alternative to burgers, according to Michelle Cordial, director of brand management for the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.

The campaign will run until July 9 and will include three promotional windows. The first is a tie-in with Discovery Kids' "Endurance" series, a youth version of "Survivor," Cordial said. Kids' Pak meals will contain premiums based on "Endurance," including wristbands, sweat bands, pocket lockers, cell phone tags and stickers. Kids will be encouraged to visit www.subwaykids.com to play "Got the Endurance?" and enter a sweepstakes to win one of several extreme-sports trips.

TV spots have begun airing on the Discovery Kids Channel and Discovery Kids Saturday morning shows on NBC, featuring kids who won an online essay contest in which they described the importance of eating well and staying active. The spots show them playing a variety of sports.

Subway, which had domestic sales of $6.27 billion in 2004 from nearly 18,000 U.S. units, long has been a leader in promoting healthful eating through commercials starring spokesman Jared Fogle, but the chain has always "perceived itself as an adult brand," Cordial said.

The new focus on kids is designed to position Subway as the leader in fighting childhood obesity by encouraging kids to "find Subway earlier in their lives," Cordial said.

"We're trying to be a responsible marketer," she said.

Subway does not have a large base of young consumers, Cordial said because the chain has not effectively marketed to them in the past. The partnership with Discovery will allow Subway to reach 15 percent of kids ages 6 to 12 years old every month, she said.

Subway is counting on its "empowerment to customize" sandwiches to appeal to kids, Cordial said, because "empowerment is big to kids and teens."

One marketing expert said Subway was well positioned to expand its appeal to young consumers, especially by focusing on health and trying to decrease childhood obesity.

"Of all the companies that are now trying to seriously address that issue, Subway is one of the brands that can do so, and do it in an authentic way," said Sid Good, president of Cleveland-based Good Marketing Inc., which specializes in kids' marketing.

Because Subway has low-fat sandwiches, it can promote itself as a healthful-alternative restaurant "and be honest about it," Good said.

Other chains may offer low-fat alternatives, but those items are not the core menu, he said.

"Hopefully, as kids become more aware and sensitive to the better choices they need to make as consumers, they need to have a broader range of good choices for them," Good said.

Even though Subway is more of a "grown-up" brand, as Cordial put it, Good said the chain should be able to add more kids to its customer base by making the product benefits relevant to them.

"Many brands mean different things to each demographic group," he said. "The perception or product experience will be different for each demographic.

gcebrzyn@nrn.com


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