Dear Colleagues:

Is it an obsession with health? Or a wake up to America's individual and collective obesity? Perhaps some are beginning to understand how their lifestyle choices can lead to a longer or healthier life. Call it a trend, but consumers are reading labels for calorie count and fat content, and increasingly making decisions based on that information. For a growing number of consumers nowadays, if you're going to gobble up fast calories, it better be something you love.

Every day the news media and medical professionals debate the health benefits and effects of food - from tomatoes and milk to beef and gelato.

With rates of diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses rising, many consumers are paying more attention to their purchase decisions. Likewise, food companies and restaurants are looking for ways to maintain and grow their market share without sacrificing product taste and quality.

In this issue of Marketing Coach we feature Subway's success story, carving a niche as a healthy food provider. We also share with our readers a spring announcement of consumer packaged goods companies to offer healthier products to the marketplace.


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In This Issue
Subway Liberates Your Taste Buds
REUTERS: Bloomberg recruits 16 companies to cut salt intake.

"It's amazing
that something like health activation
has remained such a large driver
of our overall
sales growth."
- Jeff Larson,
Subway's Vice President of Marketing

Healthy Branding and Operations:
Subway and Top CPG Companies

Subway® Liberates Your Taste Buds

Did you know that there are 33,000 Subway restaurants in 85 countries?

Claims of better nutrition and flavor while watching caloric intake breathed new life into this fast food chain. What began with the Jared Fogle advertising campaign starting in 2000 has become a complete brand transformation with a menu and marketing strategy to back it up. Today this fast food brand has a "health halo," explains Jeff Larson, Vice President of Marketing, Subway. "We have focused on broadening the discussion from weight loss to leading a healthy and active lifestyle," which is the brand's core positioning worldwide. "Wherever you go in the globe, people want healthy products," Larson said.

"Relative to the category, we view ourselves as the healthy alternative in a world where it's hard to eat right, especially on the go," states Larson. "We want to provide consumers with products that taste good and provide better choices while being healthy. A lot of competitors are spending a lot of PR dollars to fight negatives; we are able to spend our money on presenting positives that work."

The goal of the chain's current advertising campaign is to increase its presence in the consumers' 'consideration set'; that is, which fast-food restaurants consumers consider when deciding where to eat. The SUBWAY® chain is doing this through a variety of tactics, including the 8 subs with 6 grams of fat or less and other low-fat messages; a family marketing strategy; and an emphasis on unique qualities that make the chain stand out from other fast-food companies.

Their product mix has featured more choices of lower fat or healthier sandwiches, and their chefs have created sauce and seasoning options to add flavor without sabotaging a diet. For a while, Subways have distributed a brochure filled with detail about the nutritional facts about all of their menu items and ingredients. They have modified their beverage offering to feature a larger selection of teas and bottled water.

In 2010, Subway's marketing campaign has many layers to it. "PR activation is very important," Larson states. "We leverage social media with outreach to influential bloggers, as well as communications specifically geared for mommy bloggers..." as Subway works to be a credible voice for the healthy choices they offer.

Subway is involved with numerous charitable and community initiatives, which are driven in concert between national marketing and their strong franchisee network. Larson credits the local franchises with bringing their promotions to life in their stores and local markets. For example, their American Heart Association's Start! Heart Walks are successful because franchisee boards believe in the cause and get engaged in organizing and supplying free product, and really jump in and make it successful.

Subway started 2010 with an "Inspiration Zone" campaign: find better, eat better, discover better, and live better featuring a co-promotion with "The Biggest Loser" trainers, and calorie counting meal promotions. Their promotional offerings are too numerous to fully detail in this article, but here's a sampling:

  • Work with the White House on First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative
  • Fresh Fit for Kids promotes healthy food choices and fitness tips and "random acts of fitness"
  • Healthy Breakfast Option PR involved Subway executives out front at events and meetings with editors talking about life style issues
  • Fans of Subway features famous athletes and their favorite Subway menu picks
  • An exclusive relationship with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) WE CAN program for its PR push on childhood obesity and other health issues.
  • Jump Rope for Heart is a program of the American Heart Association to involve elementary schools primarily in collecting pledges for jumping rope to raise funds for the non-profit. Subway has had a relationship with this for several years with substantial local activation of its franchisees.

Larson sees other hot topics like menu labeling coming up. "We've always pushed for transparency with our products and informed customers about what's in them. We have had nutritionals on our napkins for years - not in response to any government mandate."

"To have equity in this area, we have to be credible and make decisions in a way that supports that," Larson explained. Subway has led a transformation in the sector, which has been followed by lower calorie and healthier choices from McDonald's and Kentucky Fried (and now grilled) Chicken. Who would have imagined that Taco Bell would enter this race with a new ad campaign featuring a customer who says that she lost 54 pounds by feasting on the "fresco menu" as many as eight times in a week.

"It's amazing that something like health activation has remained such a large driver of our overall sales growth," said Larson. "It is still one of the top factors driving the company's growth."

Bloomberg recruits 16 companies to cut salt intake

Bloomberg's National Salt Reduction Initiative is a coalition of cities, health organizations and companies that aim to reduce salt in restaurant and packaged foods by 25 percent over five years.
Starbucks will cut salt in its breakfast sandwiches, while Heinz will reduce sodium levels in its ketchup and marinades and Boar's Head will cut salt in all manner of cured meats, cold cuts and sausages. Other companies involved are Au Bon Pain, FreshDirect, Goya, Hain Celestial Group, Kraft, LiDestri, Mars Food US, McCain Foods, Red Gold,Inc., Subway, Unilever, Uno Chicago Grill and White Rose.

U.S. researchers found recently that cutting salt intake by nearly 10 percent could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the United States $32 billion in healthcare costs.

Bloomberg's initiative targets restaurants and packaged food because only 11 percent of sodium in American diets is added by consumers. Nearly 80 percent is added to foods before they are sold, the New York City Health Department reported.

High blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke kill 800,000 Americans each year, the department said. Salt intake has been increasing since the 1970s, with Americans consuming about twice the recommended daily limit.

Marketing Coach is a publication of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. ICCC helps companies
build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market. To find out how ICCC might help your company build its reputation contact ivy@ivycohen.com, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.