And Both Spots Break Through the Clutter as Few Ads Do

By Published on .

Client: Quiznos
Agency: Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Star Rating: 3.5

If you pick the Yankees to return to the World Series, and they do, nobody will ever remember. But if you pick the Tigers ...

Singing rodents sell sandwiches in the latest Quiznos commercials.

Well, we've just seen the new Quiznos campaign from the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and all we can say is, "Go Tigers."

Dead vermin
This is a pair of commercials for a hot-sub chain -- i.e., merchants selling food -- that features two withered mice as spokesmen. Actually, they look more like animated mouse carcasses. There's one mouse carcass with a bowler hat, one with an 18th-century commodore's hat, and between them two mouthfuls of maloccluded human teeth and four bulging, mismatched eyeballs. Think Mr. Potato Head, only with vermin.

Stop-action animated dead vermin. To sell sandwiches.

And they're going to work.

That is correct: going to work. In fact, as we shall attempt forthwith to prove, they constitute good advertising.

Now we fully understand that the most recent Quiznos advertising, under the previous agency, we deplored as unappetizing, self-destructive and fundamentally unhinged. We couldn't understand how pictures of a man sucking on a wolf's teat were going to sell grinders to teenagers. We represented that commercial pretty much as the apotheosis of irrelevance and agency self-indulgence. And we were not wrong.

Something of a leap
So, yes, we appreciate that championing the shriveled-rodent approach is something of leap. But we are not daunted.

Because the mice also perform. The Commodore plays the guitar and the other screeches/sings, like something out of "Grover Visits the Sesame Street Department of Health."

We love the subs! Because they are good to us.
The Quiznos subs.
They are tasty. They are crunchy. They are warm because they toast them.
They got a pepper bar.

Then, underneath fetching close-ups of the hot sandwiches, a voice-over describes the new menu items. Then one final glimpse of the singing spokespest and it's over.

OK, why this will work: First, the images and, uh, music, do jump out at you. Maybe like a skeleton in a Halloween Spook House, but jump they undeniably do. From the first frame, these ads break through the clutter as few ads ever have.

Jingle says a lot
Secondly, note the jingle: It's not only catchy, in a perverse please-make-it-stop sort of way, it's also a clear iteration of the product benefits. They are tasty. They are crunchy. They are warm because they toast them. Says a lot more than "I'm lovin' it," does it not?

Finally, this stuff is so weird, unexpected and reckless that it's just plain cool. At least, it will be deemed as cool by the 14- to 24-year-old boys and men who represent 116% of Quiznos audience.

Disturbing associations?
Will it implant disturbing associations about, say, mouse droppings in a food establishment? Maybe. Some percentage of the audience may be too grossed out to even deal with the more disgusting extensions of the campaign's internal logic. Bad enough we have to think about mad-cow disease without worrying about hantavirus, too.

But we don't believe many will take this exercise in absurdity so literally. We believe, on the contrary, that it will make the target talk and think about Quiznos.

Yeah, go Tigers. And go, mice.

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