Subway's "Challenge an Athlete" campaign fails to whet Facebook fans' appetites

Subway's "Challenge an Athlete" campaign fails to whet Facebook fans' appetites

Subway’s Challenge An Athlete campaign shows that traditional methods may still be king when it comes to generating buzz and brand love on Facebook.

Subway are currently running a social media campaign called Challenge An Athlete, in a bid to make the most of excitement around the London 2012 Olympic Games. The campaign gives fans a chance to challenge four of Subway’s “famous fans” in a sports quiz on the sandwich shop’s official UK and Ireland Facebook page. The four celebrities are Team GB members Anthony Ogogo, Holly Bleasdale, Louis Smith and Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
WaveMetrix analysis shows that the campaign is not successful in boosting engagement on the brand’s Facebook page. Posts about the campaign generate an average of 17 comments per-post (since June 15), with responses generating little positivity. In contrast, other, more traditional posts, such as “Complete this sentence: my favourite Subway is…” generate an average of 104 responses per-post. Additionally, these posts are far more successful at driving positive buzz around the brand. This suggests that straightforward questions can sometimes drive more and higher quality Facebook engagement, than more complex campaigns.
The campaign’s results can also be partly explained by the fact that the athletes are relatively unknown, with some consumers expressing confusion as to who they are. WaveMetrix analysis has previously shown how Virgin Media’s association with sprinter Usain Bolt drove positivity around the brand, showing that celebrity endorsements can be successful, but only if the celebrity is high profile enough.
Challenge an Athlete campaign drives a low number of responses, compared to other posts:
  • Challenge an Athlete posts drive 6x less responses than other posts on average: This suggests that simple posts, which talk directly about the brand and its products can be more successful at engaging Facebook fans than more complicated campaigns


Buzz around Challenge An Athlete is far less positive than for other posts:

  • Posts such as “Like this if you’re having a Subway today” drive more positivity than Challenge An Athlete: Responses to Challenge an Athlete posts, such as “I’m hungry”, tend to be neutral and not related to the campaign, while other responses are more positive, as fans discuss their “love” of Subway
  • Some posts express confusion as to who the “famous fans” are: Some say “you what?” when responding to posts about the campaign, suggesting that the celebrities are not high profile enough to boost engagement


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