Subway is riding in the middle of the pack this week with their new ad promoting both the new Fiery Footlong Subs and Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches. The ad begins with a biker gang riding toward a Subway oasis for a taste of the new spicy subs and ends with fifteen seconds promoting their new breakfast sandwich. Lunch before breakfast? Yes, and guess which offer steps up as leader of this pack? Well, the answer comes in the form of poetry…

[wpvideo 5cooLLyf]

Take the first three lines of this ad. Used to set up the story in this ad, they almost read like old cowboy poetry. Except this time, the boys aren’t riding horses they’re riding motorcycles…
“It takes a special kind of loco to pass…initiation.
Where the sun is so hot, it rains fire.
And then you gotta eat the flame.”


Surprisingly, over half of viewers are not hearing or remembering these key lines. As a result, the concept of eating the hot new sandwich as an “initiation” into the Sub-gang isn’t connecting with viewers, including younger/male viewers. Without hearing these initial lines, viewers then have little reason to focus on the visuals of the jalapenos or spicy sandwiches. Unfortunately, a product that viewers find relevant and are motivated to try suffers from a poor set up and results in weak Attention.

But what about those breakfast sandwiches? Although there is a disconnect from the first half of the ad (remember they’re being shown after the lunchtime fiery feast and without the help of the bikers), the visuals dominate in the second half and viewers remain engaged as the ad comes to a close…even without the help of a little “poetry.”

If advertising is art in the service of business this ad is a warning:
Don’t let the poetry get in the way of the sale.

I’m off to find my Steppenwolf cassette and leather jacket.
Until next week…