BBDO No Longer Subway's Lead Creative Agency

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From a Subway ad for 'Better Chicken'.
From a Subway ad for 'Better Chicken'. Credit: Subway Restaurants

BBDO is no longer Subway's lead agency, Ad Age has learned. Former incumbent MMB has been handed most of the brand's business, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

BBDO remains under contract with the marketer, however.

In a major win for BBDO, the agency replaced MMB as the chain's top shop in August 2015; the Omnicom shop's first work for Subway debuted last October just before National Sandwich Day. BBDO went on to work on a variety of campaigns for Subway as the chain focused on its heritage and fresh items in an effort to move past its long association with disgraced former pitchman Jared Fogle.

More recently, Subway worked with MMB on a campaign in August focused on using fresh locally grown produce and no artificial preservatives in its food. That campaign used an updated logo, which Subway is rolling out, plus the idea of an "appetite for better" and the hashtag #SearchforBetter.

"We continue to work with a variety of agencies including BBDO, MMB and many others," Subway said Thursday. Subway declined to comment further on the matter.

BBDO and MMB each deferred comment to Subway.

In August, however, Subway said: "BBDO is our agency of record and they are working on a number of projects for us." At that time, it went on to say "We also maintain a relationship with MMB, as well as other agencies, and often use them for creative projects as well."

Removing BBDO from the lead role is the latest shakeup in marketing at the sandwich shop.

CMO Tony Pace left Subway in 2015 to start his own marketing consultancy. After plans for Mr. Pace's departure were announced, Subway selected BBDO as its new ad agency after long working with MMB.

The high-profile win of Subway last year brought BBDO back into a category it had been looking to get into after Arby's moved to MDC's CP&B in 2012 and later to Fallon. BBDO also worked on Pizza Hut for 20 years until 2009.

Subway's first work from BBDO aired in late October 2015. Subway then named Joe Tripodi as its global chief marketing officer in December. Former marketing executive Chris Carroll returned to Subway in 2015 in the role of chief advertising officer.

At the same time, Subway had to work to distance itself from former pitchman Mr. Fogle, who in 2015 admitted to receiving child pornography and paying for sex with minors, and was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

Subway, which has had two consecutive years of sales declines at U.S. locations, has recently been touting deals such as $3.50 subs of the day to entice customers.

Subway's U.S. ad spending declined 3.4% to $517.5 million in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Its U.S. sales also declined 3.4%, to $11.5 billion, according to Technomic.

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