Five Dollar Footlongs: the History of Subway’s Game-Changing Promotion
It’s hard to imagine
Subway without Five Dollar
Footlongs, but it was just 2008 (almost 35 years after the brand began franchising) when the sandwich franchise introduced its now-ubiquitous promotion nationwide. A combination of lucky timing and infectious
marketing made the chain’s sub sandwiches earn a place in the ranks of
America’s top fast food items.
The origin of the $5 footlong sandwich traces back to 2004, when an owner of two Subway franchises within the Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami, FL noticed that sales were slow on weekends. Stuart Frankel began selling foot- long sandwiches for $5 on weekends and saw that sales shot up almost immediately without him having to sell the subs at a loss. It was perfect timing: the promotion started just as the economic downturn hit Florida’s economy, and frugal consumers raised his sales volume. The $5 footlong deal became so popular that two other nearby Subway stores started offering it.
In another stroke of luck, the $5 footlong sandwich deal grew in popularity at the same time the nationalSubway franchise was searching for a new ad campaign to replace the decade-old Jared Fogle commercials, as well as competing with other fast food chains' dollar menus. In March 2008, Subway began offering the Five Dollar Footlongs as a short-term promotion to end in May, but since it was so successful, Subway made it a permanent staple of its value menu in one form or another.
The advertising campaign for Subway’s Five Dollar Footlongs wasn’t luck, but sheer campy genius. The first commercials were nonsensical and highly literal, but drilled “$5” and “one foot-long” into customers’ brains. The jingle, “five, five, five dollar foot long…” was an instant hit as the commercials repeated the phrase as many times as could be crammed into a thirty second spot. A lesson in viral marketing: the commercials were so fun and catchy that they spawned various internet parodies and fans’ versions. The purposely low-brow TV commercials and infectious jingle may have been as instrumental to the success of Subway as the $5 deal itself.
"Buying" A Franchise
Here at FranchiseHelp we’re constantly asked about the opportunity to buy a franchise. Unfortunately I’m going to have to tell you something that might disappoint you. You can’t “buy” a franchise. In reality you are engaging in a “leasing” transaction rather than a “purchasing” transaction. Why is it a lease? In any franchise deal, the franchisee receives the assets up front, but only for a period of time - the term of the franchise agreement. The term of the agreement may run for five to ten years, or in some cases it may run for as little as a year or two. At the end of the day the renewals of these agreements are at the option of the franchisor, and the reasons for not renewing an agreement should be completely spelled out in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and franchise agreement.
Getting in on the Ground Floor with an Emerging Franchise Company
In addition to the due diligence that should be performed, be sure that you and your advisors focus attention on:
Territorial Issues and Franchising
Did you know how important picking a good location is when buying a franchise? Read on to find out more!