Here’s Why Quiznos Marketing Has Become All About the Pitch-Perfect Parody Video

Latest installment burns Burning Man

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Over the last year and a half, Quiznos and its agency Windowseat have mastered the art of the perfect parody.

They started with a mash-up of buzzy television shows House of Cards and Game of Thrones, featuring a spot-on Kevin Spacey impersonator. The sandwich chain then kicked things up a notch, taking on Entourage and Star Wars. Now Quiznos is back with its latest take down, making fun of Burning Man and the second installment of the Maze Runner franchise, The Scorch Trials. 

And while Burning Man isn't happy with it—festival spokesman Jim Graham told the Reno Gazette-Journal that organizers take issue with the clip and are considering legal action—the latest spot is another example of how Quiznos nails parody. (A Quiznos rep said the brand hasn't heard from Burning Man.)

"We knew we were taking a risk as a brand, we knew we were shifting dollars away from TV into digital and we've been tremendously happy with the risk that we took," said Chris Ruszkowski, vp of marketing for Quiznos. "The response has been great. Millennials follow, like, subscribe and share and we wanted to be part of that conversation, and doing content like this allows us to be part of that conversation." 

The videos appear on what Quiznos calls Toasty.TV and have markedly improved the brand's engagement. According to Quiznos, the parody efforts have topped 11 million video views, and there have been over 38,000 engagements on the channel, a 63 percent increase since its launch.

And the videos seem to be driving interest in eating at the sandwich shop. Quiznos' store-locator traffic online has jumped 94 percent since Toasty.TV launched in March 2014, with spikes during the parody launches.

The effort has increased Quiznos' following on Twitter (up 46 percent) and Instagram (up 621 percent), too. 

"The millennial male is a hard-to-reach target audience. We know we could blow our budgets with high ad spends that would pretty much be gone pretty quick," said Ruszkowski. "[But] we believe in creating content marketing that will live on, that is relevant and has a place on Toasty.TV. We feel that content marketing is different than feature investment marketing. We don't ever try and promote a new sandwich in our ads, it's more about having a relevant conversation with our target audience." 

Quiznos partnered with 20th Century Fox, the studio behind The Scorch Trials, for its first in-store movie promotion and the spot was inspired by the film. According to Ruszkowski, the studio saw The Maze Runner parody and wanted to collaborate with the brand. This marks the first time Quiznos has partnered with a studio on an upcoming movie launch; The Scorch Trials premieres Friday. 

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.