Subway Consolidates North America Media and Creative With Dentsu Aegis Network

MMB had previously handled most of the food chain's ad business

MMB wishes Subway "nothing but the best of luck in their future."
Headshot of Lindsay Rittenhouse

Subway announced today it will consolidate its entire U.S. and Canadian (North American) media and creative business with Dentsu Aegis Network after a review launched in July.

Beginning in early 2018, the Franchise at Dentsu Aegis Network North America—which includes Carat New York, mcgarrybowen New York, Carat Canada and DentsuBos—will be responsible for the fast-food chain’s strategy across all channels. Employees out of the Japanese conglomerate’s New York, Toronto and Montreal offices will be tasked with expanding Subway’s brand vitality with consumers.

“This is a pivotal time for Subway as we are accelerating our transition to becoming a modern marketing organization,” said Karlin Linhardt, Subway senior vp of North American marketing. “We selected Dentsu Aegis because it is a data-driven organization with the resources, strategic vision and creativity needed to drive consistent value for our customers and our franchisees across all channels.”

It appears that Carat will handle Subway’s media planning and buying across North America and mcgarrybowen will be responsible for creative. A mcgarrybowen spokesperson deferred comment to Dentsu and Carat did not return a press query.

“Subway is an iconic brand and we are proud that they have chosen Dentsu Aegis Network as their integrated marketing partner to help drive their growth across North America,” wrote Nick Brien, Dentsu CEO of the Americas. “We look forward to innovating the way Subway engages with consumers with expertise across data, creative and media.”

Subway initiated a North America agency review in July after a few tumultuous years of shop swaps. After naming BBDO its creative agency of record over its former longtime partner MMB in August 2015, the two split ways in October 2016. Then, Subway informally gave most of its advertising work back to MMB.

A MMB spokesperson confirmed that it participated in the review and added in a statement issued to Adweek: “We are proud of the work we’ve done for Subway over the past 14 years, taking them from number six in market share to number three, while also helping them become the largest restaurant chain in the world. Like many mature brands, they face a lot of challenges ahead, and we wish them nothing but the best of luck in their future. Hopefully our future includes helping the next QSR brand grow with similar success.”

In a July statement sent to Adweek’s Erik Oster, Subway said the review was launched by new North American leadership—including Linhardt (hired in April)–who focus on “brand transformation, new digital initiatives and innovation.” Notably, the company has also been pressured by declining revenue.

In the earlier statement, Subway added that prior to its decision to consolidate, it had long-standing partnerships with various agencies, including 17 years with MediaCom, 14 years with MMB and 10 years with Carat.

A MediaCom spokesperson told Adweek that the WPP shop did not participate in the recent review.

“Subway has indeed been a long-time client,” the MediaCom representative said. “When they decided to put the business into review five months ago, we declined to defend.”

The review did not impact Subway’s specialty, local or international agencies.

According to a recent Kantar Media report, Subway spent about $100 million in the U.S. on measured media in the first quarter of 2017.

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.
Publish date: December 11, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT