Having their fingers on the pulse of growing flavor trends, like green goddess dressing, and taking it to the next level is at the heart of the collaboration. “Take an American classic, a favorite, and give it a unique Subway twist,” says Len Van Popering, Subway's vice president of global brand and innovation. Tastemade saw the piqued interest and attention and took the idea to Subway, and the team went to work. The Green Goddess Tuna Melt is an example of a first-to-market opportunity that could give the brand a leg up on competitors. The LTO was successful with franchisees, Subway said. So much so that they asked to continue carrying the sandwich beyond April 24, when the offer ends.
The BLT&E, another “Inspired by Tastemade” product currently being tested, is also a nod to a decades-old American classic—the egg salad sandwich. Tastemakers noted their audience searching for deviled egg recipes, chatting about it, and sharing photos. Deviled eggs were gaining traction, so Tastemade, again, brought the data to Subway and the stream of creation began. The sandwich is made with deviled egg salad, Cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, and fresh tomato slices on Italian bread. Two additional “Inspired by Tastemade” sandwiches are the Carne Asada and the Southern French Dip, reflecting global and regional influences.
The partnership is just one of many significant changes Subway has rolled out over the past year. An optimization plan reduced the number of U.S. units by roughly 1,000 this past year, taking Subway below 25,000 restaurants in the country. The plan was driven by restaurant profitability, however, and turning around declining or flat sales and reduced traffic in certain legacy locations. As a result, the system was trimmed of some underperforming units, while other stores relocated or remodeled (or both). Hundreds of venues were remodeled with the Subway “Fresh Forward” and “Fresh Start” designs as well as FreshNow culinary updates, which include “Signature Flavor Stations” featuring new sauces and flavorings like the signature Sub Spice blend and the Subway Signature Herb Garlic Oil. There are also “Fresh Pour Beverage Stations,” with options like Watermelon Agua Fresca and Homestyle Lemonade.
On the menu side, Subway launched Signature Wraps nationwide in March 2018. In late February of this year, the company added two new limited-time options— Sesame-Ginger Glazed Chicken and Sweet N’ Smoky Steak & Guac. Subway also introduced Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread as a winter LTO, and debuted a New Chipotle Cheesesteak on Sunflower Crunch Bread last September.
Wanting to promote food not only as a taste experience, but also as a way for people to interact and connect with each other, is part of the Subway’s reenergized vision. Van Popering says no company can track this interaction quite like a media company can. “The scale of this partnership is expansive,” he says of the Tastemade deal. “It circles the globe. This makes us unique. It will dramatically ramp up the food innovation capabilities here and around the world.”