Entries in NFL (1)

Wednesday
Apr252012

Q&A: After A Life-Size Food Statue, Subway Has A Marketing Feast Planned For RG3

By Barry Janoff

April 25, 2012: Robert Griffin III made a stop via Subway en route to the NFL, officially unveiling his alliance with the national chain at a Subway location in New York, where RG3 was preparing for the NFL draft on April 26.

Griffin said that he and his dad were loyal customers of Subway in Waco, Texas, during his days as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Baylor. His favorite sandwich: "Definitely Meatball Marinara." Griffin, who is expected to be selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Washington Redskins, now joins a list of "Famous Fans" that includes NFL stars Ndamukong Suh and Justin Tuck, Michael Phelps, Apolo Ohno, CC Sabathia, Ryan Howard, Nastia Liukin and Blake Griffin.

At the Subway event, the company unveiled a life-size food statue of RG 3 (created by food artist Jim Victor) made of smokehouse BBQ chicken, olives (for the eyes), garlic (teeth) and New Mexican hot chili (for his trademark hair). Victor said this was the fourth such food sculpture he has made for Subway (Suh, Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller).

To honor the occasion, Griffin, known for wearing Superman socks, wore a special pair of Subway socks (in green and gold to match his adidas-Subway windbreaker). RG3 also has marketing deals with adidas, EA Sports and Castrol Oil.

NYSportsJournalism spoke with Paul Bamundo, director of sports marketing, PR and partnerships for Subway FAF (Franchise Advertising Fund) about the role RG3 will play with the company.

NYSportsJournalism.com: How did the alliance between RG3 and Subway begin?

Paul Bamundo: Tony Pace (svp/global CMO for Subway FAF) found out that he and his dad were fans and customers of Subway in Waco while he was at Baylor. He would eat a foot-long — or more than one — as part of his eating and training routine. He has a great metabolism. He can work it off. He's in great shape. So we got word to him that we wanted to speak with him about him becoming a 'Famous Fan' because we felt that this would be an interesting alliance.

NYSJ: How prominent will RG3 be in marketing?

PB: He's the story of the draft. He's on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine. We already have him featured in print ads and in online advertising. Once he gets out of the madness of the NFL draft, we'll start to create TV commercials, get that into development. He will be a strong presence for us as the NFL season starts and progresses.

NYSJ: Do you see putting Blake Griffin and Robert Griffin together in marketing, promotions, other activations?

PB: That would be a natural. We have talked [internally] about having the Griffin Boys together. We think that's something that would work very well for the 'Famous Fans' campaign.

NYSJ: Has RG3 been in touch with any other Subway 'Famous Fans'?

PB: He definitely knows who they are — Phelps, Suh, the others — but this relationship is too new. So we have not put him in touch with any others. But we do plan to do that. We will make that happen.

NYSJ: Has he had any contact yet with Jared Fogel {Subway company spokesman)?

PB: Not yet. Jared is on the road and couldn't be here. But he welcomes people into the family and indoctrinates them. So it will be Jared, Michael Phelps, Michael Strahan, Ryan Howard, Blake Griffin . . . Jared is a big Indianapolis Colts fan, so he would loved to have seen RG3 taken No. 1 overall [instead of Andrew Luck].

NYSJ: Beyond his being a customer, what made this alliance a reality?

PB: He's a wonderful young man. He comes from a military family — both of his parents were in the military. He has a solid family. And he also is a young man who is very athletic and pays attention to keeping in good shape. In addition to playing football, he also ran track, in which he holds NCAA records in the hurdles.

NYSJ: Subway has had an alliance with the NYC Marathon — Jared ran two years ago and Apolo Ohno ran in 2011. Does RG3 know that you might ask him to run in one someday?

PB: In fact, we've already talked about that. We talked about how [speed skater] Apolo had to go from being a short-distance athlete to running 26-plus miles. He seemed to be into it, not soon, but maybe somewhere down the road.

NYSJ: He has other endorsements, but appears to be selective at this point. What does that say about the fact that he has decided to align with Subway?

PB: We put a lot of work into the 'Famous Fans' campaign and we believe that Subway is where winners eat. When we spoke with Robert, we impressed upon him all of the athletes who have won championships while working with us: Ryan Howard, Tony Parker, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, CC Sabathia . . . so we have a nice track record going.

NYSJ: You had him making and serving sandwiches today, and he seemed to be very comfortable with that.

PB: He told us that he was very familiar with Subway restaurants from his time in Waco. He genuinely had a great time [behind the counter], getting to meet customers and some of his fans in New York.

NYSJ: What did he think about the food statue made in his likeness? Did he try to eat it?

PB: He was surprised. [Laughs.] We didn't tell him about it before we showed it to him. We told him not to sample it, but he really didn't seem interested in doing that. He has been speaking with the artist so I know he was very interested in how it was made and what food was used. The statues don't last very long; they live on in photos. We expect that RG3 will be around a lot longer than his Subway statue.

Q&A: At Subway, Sports Marketing Is Always Fare Game

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