A Fresh Look at Subway’s Reggie Bush Campaign

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Subway has given consumers many different ways to think about sandwiches and their health. Jared showed everyone that a steady diet of Subway sandwiches can turn a morbidly obese young man into a slightly overweight young man who is popular and good with the ladies. A more recent TV campaign featuring the plump Jon Lovitz advises watchers to indulge in a big meaty, cheesy meal with essentially no regard for their health.

Most recently, Subway has shed its excess pounds and adopted the soon-to-be-NFL-star Reggie Bush as its spokesman. The TV spot, which debuted last week, emphasizes Bush’s superb physical conditioning and youthful personality. More importantly, it invites viewers to “Get the buzz on No. 5” at subwayfreshbuzz.com, a site where they can read Bush’s own daily blog, view his biography and photo gallery, enter a sweepstakes for a chance to watch Bush play with his new pro team, and even chat with him in-person on select dates.

For the most part, subwayfreshbuzz.com delivers on the in-depth and exclusive Reggie Bush coverage it promises. Currently, the most talked-about figure in all sports, positioned to be the number one pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, and in the prime of his life, Bush is a fascinating subject with an interesting story to tell. He is fresh, and this is the point that Subway wants you to take away more than anything. They rely on an implicit connection between this “fresh” personality and the “fresh”-ness of their ingredients. Yeah, I’m scratching my head, too.

If you’re interested in the athlete and not the sandwiches, there’s plenty for you to enjoy on the site. Bush has updated his blog every day since it kicked off on April 8th, and he’s already done a good job of keeping new fans up to speed by providing anecdotes about his youth and discussions on his influences. I have no doubt that Bush is a bright and talented young man, but he does appear to be getting some kind of help writing the blog. Nonetheless, his story is an original, compelling, and relevant one. There is also a video blog portion of the site, where Bush takes you even further inside his life—like giving you a tour of his USC locker room.

Once you get past the fact that Subway has essentially based an entire multi-platform ad campaign on a pun, there is reason to believe the site will merit some success. For one thing, Subway’s “Eat Fresh” tagline is so well branded already that many people will be inclined to understand the vague connection. And for a fast-food industry under constant scrutiny by concerns over health and obesity, Reggie Bush makes a lot more sense as a spokesperson than Jon Lovitz.

Subwayfreshbuzz.com is currently entirely devoted to Reggie Bush, but it appears this is the first in a series of similar exposés. A sidebar on the site tells users to stay tuned for Subway Freshbuzz Highlights on other up-and-coming stars. The ambiguity here leads me to believe Subway itself sees the success of the site as a tentative matter, and is waiting on signing the next star to see if the campaign was really worth doing it all over again.

If the campaign does continue, Subway needs to better integrate its product and online presence in this viable space it has created. Give us some nutritional information, healthy menu options, and exercise suggestions so we can become lean and strong like a star running back. Give us a more obvious tie-in to Subway’s main site rather than one tiny URL at the bottom of the page. And finally, one thing that should go without saying, give us user-generated content activities—there’s nothing more fresh these days.

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