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Working with the largest quick service restaurant (QSR) on earth at a pivotal time in its brand and business trajectory has been an honor. Subway’s turn-around has been an ongoing journey, which has involved the challenging and rewarding exercise of fundamentally rethinking a multitude of the brand’s marketing initiatives, and creating some new ones.


This is the story of how we helped Subway take steps to move from a functional purveyor of better for you food, to a brand with a heart for the people it serves daily.


The Challenge

Subway knew that millennials would be core to its future success and sales turnaround. It needed re-think the way it engaged with its audiences in a cultural landscape that was increasingly turning away from mass chains and pursuing brands with a meaningful story to tell.


The brand saw an opportunity to own National Sandwich Day and to benefit from the social currency that existed. But it was unclear how to celebrate it in a way that connected with millennials, and also mapped back to Subway’s brand and sales goals in a sea of fake holiday sameness.


The Insight

Subway has been feeding America more than any other restaurant for many years. In fact, the week of National Sandwich Day, and every other week of the year, one in seven Americans eats at Subway. But for every American Subway feeds each week, the same number of Americans goes hungry, suffering from the food insecurity crisis that plagues our country.


Research showed that solving poverty and hunger was the top cause-related issue millennials cared about (47% more than the general population). So we asked: What if on National Sandwich Day, we made sure that we weren’t just feeding our stomachs, but also feeding our spirits?

The Idea

Subway invited everyone to mark their calendars for a different kind of National Sandwich Day celebration. A party Subway called: The Good Deed Feed.


The event, hosted in partnership with non-profit Feeding America, marked the single biggest meal donation day in American history. And for that special day, never did eating well… feel so good. The details were simple. For every sub you bought, you’d get one free for a friend and Subway would donate a meal to Feeding America.

The Experience

Subway’s fully-integrated campaign to launch The Good Deed Feed was comprised of three phases: captivate, care and capture.


Phase 1: Captivate | We set out to dominate the conversation about National Sandwich Day. Subway encouraged consumers to mark their calendars as a reminder to visit Subway on the big day to make a real difference in the world. Traditional advertising, including an integration with the WWE ensured that the masses were prepared to participate. Digital advertising provided users with easy ways to mark their calendars.


Phase 2: Care | In order to ensure we connected on an emotional level with the food security challenges we were addressing, we partnered with to go in-depth on the nation-wide issue. We leveraged Feeding America’s proven “empathy portals” – children, personal stories and local impact – to get our consumers invested in the cause. We also documented the stories of individual Subway franchisees, who help battle food insecurity throughout the year.


Phase 3: Capture | On National Sandwich Day, it was critical that our consumers showed up to help us make it the biggest meal donation day in American history. We leveraged a TODAY Show integration so that consumers started the day with the important message. Nationwide, morning radio DJ live reads, press office food drops and communications to our owned CRM database reminded everyone about their chance to do a good deed.



Thanks to thorough planning and a swell of national conversation about Subway’s partnership with Feeding America, we set a record with resonance: America’s largest single meal donation day ever. And we proved Subway’s brand and business could do well, by doing good:  

  • 71% increase in same day sales at Subway restaurants

  • 62% lift in same day traffic at Subway restaurants

  • 11 million meals donated to Feeding America

  • 36% branded share of voice on National Sandwich Day (a 157% year-over-year increase)

  • 44 million earned media impressions, across 750 news stories, including On Air with Ryan Seacrest, the Today Show and nationwide local news (20% year-over-year increase)

  • 50% increase in social conversation about Subway

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