Malaysia – Come September, the Subway brand in Southeast Asia surprised audiences with a unique take on its marketing campaign – that is, a promotional messaging that targets marketing itself: “More meat, less marketing.”
The campaign was launched in the region-bound countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, and in Malaysia, the campaign has gained impressive traction within the first month since its launch.
VaynerMedia APAC, the creative brains behind the campaign, shared to MARKETECH APAC, that from the campaign’s release until November to date, digital posts have reached a 7% average engagement rate.
The star of the campaign – Subway’s new Meat Stack – is its sub, packed with chicken strips, tender chicken slices, pepperoni, smokey salami, and fresh veggies. The campaign’s aim is to drive home the message that in order to give the best-valued fresh sub, Subway spent all its budget on cooking up the new item with very little left for marketing.
Much like the long-running joke of “honest movie titles,” and “honest advertisements,” the campaign pokes at the elephant in the room in the business of marketing, where some brands prefer to build on glamorous branding rather than improve the product itself.
Subway’s “More meat, less marketing” campaign is a 360 marketing initiative. Digital banners and videos have been rolled out on the different markets’ Subway social media channels. On Subway Malaysia’s Facebook page, banners bearing the hashtags #NoBudgetForMarketing #InsertHashtagHere #NoMoneyForHashtag #NoBudgetForTVC are being posted regularly.
In an October 12 post, Subway Malaysia published a video with the description, “Meat lovers, rejoice! Marketing folks – look away! ‘Cos we’ve spent all our marketing budget stuffing more meat into our all-new Meat Stack.” The video shows a “behind the scenes” editing of the Meat Stack banner, being created in elementary “PowerPoint’” style.
Meanwhile, another quirky Facebook post shows an image of the new sub with the copy, “You Win Some (meat), You Lose Some (advertising).”
Another post was also published, similarly shining on the battle between good product and good advertising, with a GIF showing a scoreboard, where the new sub gains a point vs no points for marketing.
VaynerMedia shared that as of current, the campaign has garnered 310k impressions in Malaysia, with a total of 9k engagement of comments, shares, and reactions. Reshares have also amounted to 695.
Of the concept, VaynerMedia APAC’s Executive Creative Director VJ Anand said, “In the marketing industry, we often joke about creating ads using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or MS Paint. We took these jokes and made it a reality because it was a fun approach which made sense with a product like the value-for-money Meat Stack. Add to that the current realities of our industry which has been facing year-long budget cuts, and you have a marketing campaign that’s real, relevant, and talkable.”
A number of Malaysians expressed their appreciation for the marketing move, with one commenting on Facebook, “I love this [idea], more for customer, less for advertiser.”
Another also wrote, “So far, Subway has been the only one calling out what it is. Liking the self-depreciation campaign you’re doing,” alongside enthusiastic emojis of a thumbs-up, and clapping hands.
Aside from socials, the campaign also takes form in point-of-purchase materials and out-of-home bus ads, particularly in Singapore. In the Lion city, the messaging was adapted in the form of half designed ads, with the catchy copy “[Subway] could only afford half an ad.”
VaynerMedia said the campaign is set to run until early January 2021.
Hang Ee Laine, Subway’s head of marketing for Southeast Asia said, “We are excited to connect with our guests through a fresh, fun, and light-hearted campaign. We created a delicious sub, and wanted to tell a story in a way that would make people smile.”