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Subway sandwiches Snapchat between in-store activations, charity for viral goals

Sandwich chain Subway is leveraging Snapchat for an in-store special that it hopes will imbue some charitable sentiment with its customers.

Subway is partnering with nonprofit organization Feeding America to donate meals to the one in eight Americans who are going hungry, while using a variety of mobile platforms including a Snapchat filter to raise awareness. The initiative will involve a special buy-one-get-one deal for the consumer, which will also spur a meal donation from Subway to Feeding America. 

?Snapchat has been an effective channel for charities, to a degree,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT. ?However, a common thread among the successful examples (Baron von Fancy with W Hotels for LGBTQ rights; or Tiesto, Jared Leto and Jimmy Kimmel for Project (RED) AIDS research) is that they are ?cool? media presences that inherently resonate with Snapchat users? at least much more than Subway does. 

?The question here is less about if Snapchat filters are a good tactic for promoting charities?they absolutely can be? and more about if users feel like a ?National Sandwich Day brought to you by Subway? filter is a good look for their Snaps; the jury's still out on this one.?

Mobile channels
The Good Feed Deed campaign is attempting to become the single largest meal donation day in Feeding America?s history by donating more than 11 million meals to the nonprofit. The event is being held on November 3, which is National Sandwich Day. 

Achieving the milestone will be no easy task, and Subway is looking to millennials to help sustain its donations. The promotional arm of the campaign includes a custom National Sandwich Day Snapchat filter that can be triggered at most of Subway?s more than 27,000 locations on November 3.

The campaign will also raise awareness through social engagement, leveraging the hashtag #GoodDeedFeed on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages. The leveraging of social channels effectively shifts the traditional awareness campaign to one akin to a conversation? a necessary approach for a subject as sensitive and marginalized as hunger in America.

Subway engages in community outreach through its partnership with Feeding America

To round off the awareness initiative, Subway will be partnering with Mic to produce a content series dedicated to addressing the plight of hunger. The videos will feature stories from Subway franchisees and families who are served by Feeding America food banks, families who number among the 42 million people in the U.S. who suffer from inadequate access to food. 

One such video, hosted on YouTube, takes viewers into the operations of the Greater Lansing Food Bank in Michigan and highlights a Subway franchisee?s relationship with his community.

Mic will also make a meal donation to Feeding America each time the content is shared. 

?Corporations aligning their own interests? pushing a marketing message? alongside their consumers' concerns, whether they be charitable or otherwise, is an incredibly savvy tactic, and one that I expect we will see more and more of over time,? Mr. McNally said. ?CBS has done very interesting work along these lines with their Viewers to Volunteers program, which rewards viewers who watch brand videos with points that can be allocated to a charity of the viewer's choosing. 

?Corporations really only have two options when it comes to compelling people to consumer content: first is create content that is just plain good of it's own accord, which is quite difficult, and second is to reward the viewer for consuming the content with some low-effort feel-good altruism.?

Mic's content series highlights the issue of hunger around the country

Social impact for millennials
The combined weight of The Good Feed Deed, with its Snapchat, social and mobile video components, is a clear push for millennials to participate in the conversation. The approach is a time-tested one, as the demographics that Subway is targeting, millennials and their even more mobile-savvy counterparts, Generation Z, have shown to respond positively to initiatives that put their money towards social impact and change. 

The move is also a shrewd business maneuver for Subway, which is struggling to maintain profit growth as it hears footsteps from surging fast-casual competitors behind it. Millennials are avid consumers of fast-casual dining, and by bringing them into locations with Snapchat filters and altruistic sentiment, Subway can begin to regain some of its lost market share.

The sandwich chain has participated in its fair share of mobile maneuvering. Earlier this year, it acquired both a team and assets from Avanti Commerce, a digital technology platform based in Vancouver, Canada, suggesting the company?s investment in mobile and digital is more than just gesture (see story).

And last year, Subway Restaurants? franchisees rampsed up to court fans of the Washington Redskins football team by rolling out mobile sweepstakes and SMS promotions, proving that sports-based activations are successful in boosting subscription bases (see story).

?Engaging millennials is clearly a challenge for brands, particularly mass market ones with somewhat tarnished images, like Subway,? Mr. McNally said. ?A primary factor in the success of a campaign like this is what value the content has to the consumer. 

?Millennials? and media consumers in every demographic? understand the unwritten contract we implicitly agree to as media consumers: A corporation needs to foot the bill for the content experiences we interact with,? he said. ?And in today's landscape, consumers put a high premium on their time and attention. 

?If we're giving some of our valuable attention to your marketing message, it needs to have some benefit to us. And that's what Subway needs to ensure with this campaign: that it offer a valuable charitable experience for participants.?