Subway Execs Say Chuck Best Product Placement In Years

Joe over at TV Week has some inside scoop on what Subway thinks about the response their Chuck campaign is receiving:

Wanna save “Chuck”? If you’ve got five bucks, and aren’t averse to processed deli meats, you might just be able to help.

In fact, Subway-loving fans of NBC’s Monday night dramedy already may have done their part to keep the show on the air.

A few weeks ago, “Chuck” featured a pretty prominent product placement for Subway. We’re talking characters lovingly caressing a footlong sub, with one even mentioning the company’s “$5 footlongs” slogan in a scene.

Unlike Tina Fey’s casual mention of McDonald’s McFlurry on “30 Rock” last year, the Subway love in “Chuck” was paid for. It generated plenty of attention on Madison Avenue, including a glowing writeup in AdAge.

Subway marketing officer Tony Pace told the magazine it was happy with the arrangement. But TVMoJoe has learned that “happy” may have been an understatement.

According to two people familar with the situation, Subway’s internal tracking of the “Chuck” promotion was off the charts. One source labeled it the best such product placement the restaurant chain has done “in several years.”

And here’s the kicker: Pace was so impressed with “Chuck’s” impact on sandwich sales, he actually called a top NBC ad sales executive to let him know just how much Subway loved the Chuckster. What’s more, Pace told NBC the company hoped the network decided to renew “Chuck” for another season.

An NBC source confirmed to TVWeek’s Jon Lafayette that the call took place. Just what impact the conversation may have on NBC’s decision remains to be seen. As big as Subway is, it’s only one advertiser.

But that’s not stopping “Chuck” lovers from attempting one last-ditch effort to demonstrate that the show’s level of audience engagement—one of the hot buzzwords in TV circles these days—is off the chart.

As TVWeek reported earlier this month, a Twitter- and blog-based campaign has been brewing for weeks to convince “Chuck” fans to buy $5 footlongs today, the night of the show’s season finale.

Unlike past Save Our Show stunts—my mom still has a box of “Jericho” peanuts sent to me by desperate fans—the “Chuck” effort is rooted in practicality. Networks get annoyed when their mailrooms are flooded with things they don’t need. Happy advertisers, however, are always welcome.

The footlong plan is even generating support from TV critics. Time’s James Poniewozik declared last week that he’ll hold his nose and buy a footlong tonight (though he didn’t promise to eat it). Ditto Entertainment Weekly Pop Watch blogger Whitney Pastorek, who’s planning on downing a cold cut combo.

Me? At the risk of more snarky e-mails from rival network executives questioning my journalistic cred (Yeah, I changed my Twitter avatar to a “Save Chuck” logo for a week—sue me!), I’ll be swinging by my friendly neighborhood Subway this evening as well. Turkey on wheat with extra lettuce and onions, salt and pepper and maybe some oregano.

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10 comments

  1. Thank you Mr. Pace, Morgan was *almost* named after you. But I hope it gets renewed!!!!

  2. I will feed my family Subway tonight to SAVE CHUCK!!!!!!!!!

  3. I went to 3 different Subways and looked and asked for the comment card to mention I am buying a $5.00 footlong to support Subway’s product placement in the show “CHUCK”, but none of the stores knew what I was talking about, and none of them had any comment cards. I told them what I was doing, and purchased several subs anyways. Wish they knew what I was talking about. Hopefully the gross margin towards all the Subways will have some type of impact in getting the show renewed for a third season and many more. I also wrote a letter to Angela and Ben ( NBC executives ) and told them why I was getting a Subway $5.00 footlong today, and wrote a letter similar to Rachel listed on this website, http://www.chucktv.net . Let’s hope others did or will do the same and they listen. Long Live Chuck Bortowski.

  4. Tuna on Honey Oat bread, Swiss cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, sweet onion dressing, extra extra extra black pepper.
    I made the guys I work with eat at Subway today. Demanded is more accurate.
    My local Subway had a CHUCK advertisement up until last week. I asked the manager about it but he “chucked” it. I would’ve liked to have scored that.
    The Subway plug in the episode was practically seamless. Who doesn’t get take out at work?

  5. I’ve been eating so much Subway the last three weeks and for the Season Finale, I bought four foot-longs for the whole family. I’ve mentioned Chuck to the manager each time of the eight times I went since seeing the Chicken Teriyaki episode.

  6. Foot Long Chicken Bacin Ranch ($6.25) clueless clerk who doesn’t watch TV, got comment card in advance*, lost it in the parking lot. Had to fill in another

    *yes, last week I went in, got comment cards and left

  7. If your store didn’t have comment cards, you can comment through the company website:
    http://www.subway.com/Applications/CustService/frmCustomerService.aspx

  8. Are my husband and myself the only ones who saw the TO BE CONTINUED at the end of last night’s ‘finale’? Was that the network’s way of letting us know it will be renewed? Or is it a promise of at least one more show to wrap things up?

  9. We went on a class trip to washington d.c. during the week of the finale and we ate at subway twise. There was 234 of us (not including teachers) and we all supported the finale vs the footlong!!