Subway is launching its biggest menu update in five-plus decades with the first “never-ending” TV spot featuring superstar athletes.

The Eat Fresh Refresh, which includes more than 20 changes to core items, will be supported with multi-platform content from two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams, World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, and seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Subway described the group as “an extraordinary group of athletes that reinforce the scope of these tremendous changes and embody the idea that to be fresh, you need to refresh.” The campaign represents one of the largest media investments in the brand’s history.

The athletes will announce the brand’s many upgrades through new traditional commercials, as well as social and digital content. Additionally, basketball Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley will lend his “humor and familiar tone” as the new voice of Subway.

“The Subway Eat Fresh Refresh campaign brings to life how much new we have on our menu and is a significant moment in the brand’s transformation journey. As such, one single creative execution or spokesperson wouldn’t have been enough,” CMO Carrie Walsh said in a statement. “We developed a creative idea with a supporting cast of the biggest names in sports to share all of the great changes happening at Subway in a story that continues across multiple spots and formats.”

“The effort is supported by one of the largest media investments in the brand’s history,” Walsh continued. “In my almost 20 years in marketing, this is the most innovative campaign and media strategy that I’ve ever seen, and I am so excited to launch this unprecedented campaign.” 

Subway’s menu upgrade, first announced on July 6, comprises 11 new and improved ingredients, six new or returning sandwiches, and four revamped signature sandwiches. The brand spent 18-24 months to perfect its bread, including assistance from Nancy Silverton, who won the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef Award in 2014. Out of that process came the new Hearty Multigrain and Artisan Italian bread.

The company also improved its turkey, ham, steak, and bacon, brought back roast beef and rotisserie chicken, and elevated key ingredients like smashed avocado (avocado and sea salt), BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella, and MVP Parmesan Vinaigrette. Examples of new sandwiches include the All-American Sub, which comprises the new thinly sliced ham and turkey and smoked bacon, without artificial flavors or colors. There’s also the Turkey Cali Fresh, a product that includes the new Hearty Multigrain bread, along with turkey, mozzarella, avocado, bacon, and spinach.

Subway’s creative campaign was led by advertising agency McGarryBowen, with media planning from Carat and activation supported by Current Global, Jack Morton, Proof Advertising, and United Entertainment Group.

“We are thrilled to partner with Subway on the launch of their new menu. The star-studded cast perfectly brings to life our strategy of helping Subway guests make better choices and highlights all the new things happening for the brand,” said Ida Rezvani, chief client officer of agency of record Dentsu, in a statement.

The latest advertisements continue Subway’s use of star athletes and coaches to promote its brand. Early in 2021, the chain partnered with NBA stars Draymond Green and Jayson Tatum to showcase the variety of its Footlong combinations. Also in the fall, Subway teamed with NFL legend Deion Sanders to support NFL PLAY 60 and rolled out a “Bill Belichick Magic 8 Ball” as part of its Footlong Season campaign. There was also content featuring Watt brothers Derek, J.J. and T.J. Watt.

Marketing & Promotions, Menu Innovations, Story, Subway