After a two-year hiatus, Quiznos ads are back on the air -- and this time with no singing animals.
Quiznos has had a rough couple years, facing store closings, plummeting sales and coming close to bankruptcy, which it managed to stave off after a financial restructuring that resulted in new ownership by Avenue Capital Group in January.
But the chain has growth plans for 2012, which include its first major campaign in nearly two years. The campaign introduces a new tagline, "Qrave Quiznos" -- created by its lead creative agency, indie Barkley in Kansas City, Mo. Barkley began working with Quiznos in December, creating product ads earlier this year for limited-time offers such as the chain's lobster sub.
The new campaign will support the rollout of the chain's 25 new menu items -- which includes wraps, salads and flatbreads -- announced Wednesday, and is an effort to rebuild awareness and boost sales after a comparatively dormant marketing phase.
Last year the chain's systemwide sales tanked 19.2%, and the number of units dropped 11.8%, according to Technomic. Its measured-media spending sunk accordingly, spending a total of $12.5 million in 2011, down from $35 million in 2010 and $54.7 million in 2009. It's the third-largest sandwich chain in the U.S. by sales, trailing No. 1 Subway and No. 2 Arby's , according to Technomic.
When the chain was conducting consumer research for the campaign, "we saw a lot of emotional connections to the brand, and [we realized] it was a great opportunity to promote one of the things that differentiates us, and that 's taste," said Chris Ruszkowski, VP-advertising and marketing at Quiznos, adding that the chain's marketing will highlight its "bold flavors" and the quality of the food. Quiznos' media-buying agency is independent shop Horizon Media.
As for the new tagline, and the use of the word crave, albeit misspelled, Jason Parks, VP-group account director at Barkley said: "It's a universal word, and we thought we could differentiate with the 'Q.' We're trying to capture a specific craving."
The campaign will focus heavily on TV, but will also include digital, print, local store marketing and an aggressive direct marketing campaign. Quiznos also worked with Comedy Central for its Comedy Awards on a skit -- about people trying to sneak into a comedy show with Quiznos food -- which aired Sunday.
And although the new spots opt for the humorous route, they're decidedly less quirky than Quiznos' previous marketing efforts, such as the strange, animated "spongmonkeys" -- created by Joel Veitch and appropriated in 2004 by Martin Agency for Quiznos -- and the off-putting singing cats, created in 2010 by WDCW, the last agency the chain worked with for TV ads.