Jimmy John's advertising gets even freakier

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A still from Jimmy John's
A still from Jimmy John's Credit: Jimmy John's

Jimmy John's, which already uses "Freaky fast" and "Freaky fresh" in its tagline, is expanding its use of the "f" word in the first campaign cooked up by its new CMO and creative agency.

Its newest tagline: "Freaky fast, freaky fresh, Jimmy John's, freak yeah."

"For years we've used freaky to describe our speed," says John Shea, who joined in October as Jimmy John's first CMO since 2007. "But freaky is really a way of life for us at Jimmy John's. We're freaks about the speed, quality, freshness, [and] the sandwich making, and being freaks we're obsessed with things that normal people don't even think about."

The campaign from FCB Chicago includes TV spots focused on three of the chain's longtime staple ingredients—bread (above), meats, and lettuce—and its new Kickin' Ranch dipping sauce (below).

The people featured in the 15- and 30-second spots are actual Jimmy John's employees, says Shea.

Scene from Jimmy John's Kickin' Ranch dipping sauce commercial
Scene from Jimmy John's Kickin' Ranch dipping sauce commercial Credit: Jimmy John's

The campaign comes about a month after Jimmy John's finished overhauling menus at all of its locations. It added three items: Kickin' Ranch, a dipping sauce made with buttermilk and pureed hot cherry peppers; sliced pickles as a sandwich topping; and a 16-inch sandwich, the size of a whole baguette and twice the length of its typical sandwiches.

Jimmy John's faces increased competition. In addition to Subway—which is still huge despite declining sales and is trying to rebound with new marketing—there are smaller, fast-growing chains including Jersey Mike's. And, of course, supermarkets offer plenty of prepared sandwiches, not to mention a variety of ingredients for anyone who wants to put in the effort to make their own meals.

Along with the TV spots running nationally and locally, Jimmy John's posted a letter on social media from President and CEO James North that highlights some of the ways the company says it's obsessed with speed, quality and freshness, down to getting all of its lettuce into 3/32-inch slices.

Jimmy John Liautaud started his business with a sandwich shop in Champaign, Illinois, in 1983. After expanding into more than 2,500 locations and debating whether to take Jimmy John's public, Roark Capital acquired a majority stake in the business in 2016.

Jimmy John's now has nearly 2,800 locations in 43 states. Shea declined to disclose sales figures. According to Technomic, Jimmy John's is the 30th largest U.S. restaurant chain, with 2017 systemwide sales up 6.2 percent to nearly $2.36 billion.

Jimmy John's worked with CAA on creative in recent years but didn't have an incumbent agency when Shea joined. FCB Chicago was selected after an RFP process in early 2018, Shea says.

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