Like Knife in Gun Fight, Subway Sends Lawyer to Dominos PR Fight

Never bring a knife to a gun fight, or an attorney to a PR/advertising battle.

That’s the lesson in the “2009 Battle of the Toasted Sandwiches.” Here’s a quick blow-by-blow recap (see Adweek for more):

  1. Dominos issues an independent taste test comparing its oven-baked sandwiches to Subway’s. Since they couldn’t obviously test every variation, they use the ones featured in Subway’s ads, which happen to include veggies (they’re more photogenic even if most people don’t get them that way).
  2. Consumers picked Dominos over the Subways sandwiches, and Dominos launches an ad campaign to boast.
  3. Subway makes a tragic but sadly common mistake… instead of devising a clever ad/PR response, it sends a cease and desist letter. Candidly, I haven’t read the letters or Subway’s complete position, so I doubt most others have.
  4. In a bold move, Dominos settles takes the situation to court… the court of public opinion.
  5. Dominos debuted its ad on American Idol, an now has it on the homepage of YouTube.

Subway could have issued its own taste-test, or taken the high-road. But instead, it gifted Dominos with more attention. And people won’t ever remember that the letter may have merits on how the test was performed… they’ll just remembered that Dominos is cooking up sandwiches and ads that piss of Subway. What does that suggest? 

My first agency job was a traffic internship (I shuttled projects through silos), and I learned something I won’t soon forget. The account supervisor (the only guy who wore a tie in the agency) explained that Dominos was not a food company, but a fast-delivery service that happened to deliver pizza. Food quality came second to speed.

And here’s proof that while Dominos can’t still deliver in 30 minutes, it can cook up a campaign quickly. Dominos CEO David Brandon (appearing in his first ever commercial) is seen here tossing Subway’s “cease and desist” letter into a Dominos oven. Dominos may not be the tastiest, but they deliver alright. Yes, they deliver.

11 Replies to “Like Knife in Gun Fight, Subway Sends Lawyer to Dominos PR Fight”

  1. Oh man, the people at subway are gonna be pissed OFF. And the lawyers probably spent the whole day in meetings with the client about how to respond. Which, being a lawyer, isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe I can get a job out of this.

    I would have loved to be in those meetings. Of course I’d probably have been sitting at my desk frantically researching whether tossing the letter into the oven could be turned into some kind of sanctionable conduct. Blech.

  2. You know, I just realized something. I am tremendously risk-averse as a lawyer, and would have begged Domino’s not to do that ad, but at the same time I openly solicit opoids all over the internet and talk about shooting up my kid with elephant tranquilizers.

    I am a conundrum.

  3. Seeing you rap in that back brace is highly comical.

    Beautiful day in Miami today. Makes one happy to be alive. I’m sure I’ll feel like crap again soon. Where are you guys that you had to sleep in a tub in a hotel?

  4. Recipe for marketing:
    Mix 1 cup of sugar
    Do not ‘AD’ vinegar
    Spread a load of colorful sprinkles

    When asked, Ronald McDonald said, “Food? We sell food?

    As I told advertisers [back in my old broadcasting days].. do not sell your products. Sell an IMAGE.

    TV & Radio is a waste of time for prices. Buy a print AD for that.

    When investing your AD money on TV & Radio..3 rules..
    Sell an Image
    Sell an Image
    Sell an Image

  5. ^ yes, we all know that most ads are not there to inform the public, they’re there to cater to the LCD in us all. That’s why people hate advertisers almost as much as they hate lawyers and they continue to hold the threat over our heads that if we don’t have advertising we can’t watch TV, go to the movies or watch the SuperBow… erm, Big Game any more

    yes, [satans little helpers]

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