Inside the pitch: Why Subway chose Fallon

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Mark Goldstein, chief marketing officer of Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, was visiting his mother in a Baltimore hospital when summoned to New York to answer questions on the shop's pitch for the $350 million-plus global Subway Restaurants account. Once there, he was taken aback by Chris Carroll, marketing director for Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, and Dielli Husen, chairman of the FAFT board, who asked if the Publicis Groupe agency hadn't pandered to the client in its pitch.

"My answer was, `If we are pandering, you'll fire us in six months, because nothing will work,"' Mr. Goldstein said. Mr. Husen then uncorked a bottle of champagne.

`three minutes'

"I gave them three minutes to enjoy it," Mr. Carroll deadpanned. "Then I told them, `Congratulations, you're [already] behind [on work]."'

Fallon bested some red-hot shops for the business: Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York; Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco and independent Wieden & Kennedy, New York and Portland, Ore., for the assignment put into play in May. Joanne Davis Consulting, ran the review. Subway's agency since 2000, Havas' MVBMS Euro RSCG, New York, pulled out of the review before the finals.

Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York, will continue to handle media buying and planning.

Each of the four finalists made their final bids July 14 and 15. Mr. Carroll said the SFAFT board used a specific method of scoring, and participants said the board followed Roberts Rules of Order and used a gavel to keep the meetings flowing. The group debriefed after each of the two-hour presentations and announced the winner July 16.

Fallon eschewed the theatrics many agencies use in big pitches. Mr. said Fallon instead came up with a "surprising insight" he wouldn't identify and then validated it quantitatively. "As we dove into the numbers we saw that there was really a big business opportunity by solving this one problem," he said. "We showed the economic benefit of solving that problem. And then we showed a lot of really good creative."

Mr. Carroll and the agency were mum on the work franchisees will see in three weeks, but he said the work includes high-tech special effects. "They brought us great TV, unbelievably great radio, some traditional and non-traditional print and online ideas," he said.

Fallon partnered with La Communidad, Miami, for Hispanic and urban TV and radio and will use other partners around the world as needed.

The question, however, is whether Subway's ubiquitous weight-loss champion Jared Fogel will continue to hawk the growing chain's submarine sandwiches and salads in Fallon's effort. The answer will have to wait until August when the Milford, Conn.-based chain owned by Doctor's Associates presents the Fallon team and its campaign to franchisees at its worldwide convention in San Antonio.

While Mr. Carroll originally vowed that Mr. Fogel would be central to the new strategy, since hiring Fallon he was more circumspect. "I can't comment or it will clue you in on the strategy," he said. One executive with knowledge of the meetings said there were "a lot of discussions" about whether or not Fallon's idea needed to use Mr. Fogel. "[Jared] has been incredibly important to the success of the business," said Mr. Goldstein.

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