US sandwich chain Subway is pondering a move into Formula One that would mirror its sponsorship strategy for the Nascar American stock car racing series.
The UK and Ireland is Subway’s biggest market outside the US. A deal with F1 would tie in with its plans for further expansion in Europe and Zak Brown, chief executive of the CSM Sport & Entertainment-owned agency JMI that handles Subway’s motorsport portfolio, told the Telegraph newspaper that dialogue has been open for the past year following a meeting with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Brown said: “I took the Subway chief marketing officer to meet Bernie in Montreal last year and I would say they have been exploring it for a year. They are all about the consumer, they are massive media buyers so they would look at a sport and see if it stacks up from a media point of view and Formula One does.”
In Nascar, Subway backs driver Carl Edwards and has also put deals in place to back individual races and teams – an approach Brown believes would bear fruit in F1.
“It is not rocket science but people just haven’t done it,” he said. “I can see Subway being a global partner of F1 as well as sponsoring four to six drivers in different teams and using them collectively. So you could imagine, and it would be quite ground-breaking for F1, a clever advertisement of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel going into a Subway and racing to get there. When was the last time you saw Alonso, Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in a television commercial? It has never been done.”
F1 teams McLaren and Ferrari share banking group Santander as a sponsor but have never collaborated on commercial projects.
Subway’s athlete ambassadors in the UK include boxer Anthony Ogogo and pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale, with both having appeared in the same television commercials.