Can Buster Bluth erase Jared Fogle?
Whether it’s his portrayal of Buster Bluth in Arrested Development or Gary Walsh in HBO's Veep, Tony Hale is a delight who is regarded fondly by a wide audience. Subway is wise to use his talents in a new ad campaign clearly designed to turn the page from the Jared Fogle era.
Hale’s latest #SaveLunchBreak casting is a welcome sign of Subway taking active steps to move on from Jared, rather than letting him slowly fade from our collective minds through faceless and forgettable brand messaging. With 2015 arguably being the gargantuan chain’s worst year ever—they even got sued for its 12-inch subs not being long enough!—the chain is working hard to gracefully turn the page.
Now that the fallout is largely over—Fogle has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and headlines have subsided—Subway had the choice to either run anodyne commercials featuring the logo, “eat fresh” and glamor shots of its sandwiches or to begin crafting a new association for its brand. It wisely chose the latter.
As I’ve previously argued, placing your brand equity in one basket is a risky business. Even so, enlisting some well regarded star power is the right move. Quite sharply, Subway is simultaneously unveiling a “Founders” ad campaign that goes back to the chain’s founding in 1965 by Peter Buck and Fred DeLuca.
With DeLuca’s passing earlier this year, this heritage-based play will remind customers that Subway has roots extending far beyond many of the recent fast-casual startups. Does that matter to younger customers? Maybe not.
Subway has plenty of structural problems that present real challenges going forward. With most of its branding taken care of for the coming year, let’s hope 2016 is a better one for a brand that’s taken far more than its share of hard knocks during the last 12 months.
Kudos to BBDO and Subway management for getting this one right.