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Subway’s Sharknado 2 comedic tweets bite back

Food and fashion brands hop onto entertainment trends to join the ongoing conversation and insert themselves into the minds of TV viewers. Otherwise unrelated, Subway chose a shark focused film likely to run with the biting factor and provide entertainment while viewers watched the movie and connected further on Twitter.

“By participating, Subway is part of the conversation, which is above normal Twitter activity as it’s an event,” said Jay Hawkinson, senior vice president of emerging products at SIM Partners, Chicago. “The Sharknado 2 movie premiere reaches beyond Twitter, as evidenced by the previous Sharknado film.

“By joining the discussion, even as silly as this one was, it’s a way for Subway to show they are like everyone else, playing along with this pop culture phenomenon. Subway gets to play in the same sandbox as their customers.”

Mr. Hawkinson is not affiliated with Subway or the Syfy Channel but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Subway could not provide a comment by press deadline.

Food for thought
Subway’s tweets most frequently included puns, photos of longtime sponsor Jared Fogle and hashtags, such as #CheesySubLiners, #AndYouSayHeJustAFin and the obvious #Sharknado2.

Subway was loyal to the endeavor by staying tuned in throughout the entire movie and incorporating bits of clip art occasionally in its tweets. The chain’s involvement with the film was relevant by the incorporation of Subway’s menu items and overall theme and likely gathers attention due to its laid back, relaxed approach.

Social has enabled brands the ability to do business in fun ways, while in the past business was strictly business. Brands can simply be social to get noticed, gain interest and attract a community of followers.

“Twitter and social media in general have really transformed our relationship with our consumers in extreme and profound ways,” said Michael Engleman, executive vice president of marketing at Syfy, New York. “We’ve always needed to know our audience, but now we’re able to have real-time conversations with them and really get inside their priorities.

“Through social, we fit in with their schedule, and express our brand on platforms they’re interested in,” he said. “What Subway did was brilliant. Subway wasn’t selling a product but was instead having fun and really interacting with its audience.”

Mobile purchasing
In addition to social, Subway sees its potential when targeting mobile in its advertising efforts, which led to its implementation of mobile ordering and its plans to release a mobile wallet.

Earlier this year, Subway joined the quickly blossoming list of quick-service restaurants making a bigger push into mobile by enabling customers to place orders via an application on their smartphones.

The sandwich chain was an early mover in mobile ordering, launching an app in 2012 with such capabilities for California locations. An expansion of that program has been expected and now appears to have arrived, with a report in the New York Post stating that Subway locations in Manhattan are testing an order-ahead app (see story).

In 2013, Subway announced that it will be releasing a mobile wallet later that year that will help the fast-food chain reach its consumers on a new level through payments and loyalty.

The fast-food chain followed in the footsteps of many others, including McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC, in terms of mobilizing its payments. The company’s choice to have Paydiant power the initiative was unique within the quick-service restaurant industry (see story).

Back to social, Subway utilizes the opportunity to be casual and further appeal to fans in ways aside from traditional forms of advertising.

“It’s all about being a part of the water-cooler discussion,” Mr. Hawkinson said. “Brands inserting themselves into the conversation, especially if they have a quality social media manager who is good at riffing on these kinds of events, is one more way for them to connect to consumers.

“If the brand is clever using their own products or services to comment on the event, it could be perceived as a genuine way to engage followers and generate even more fans, especially if tweets are retweeted and shared. Consumers often appreciate when a brand can let their hair down and have fun with them.

“That can go a long way in brand recognition and awareness.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Commerce Daily, New York