The choice to be healthy despite living a fast-paced life is a choice for everyone – not just for the people with extra cash in their wallets. With clever humor and undeniable cheesiness, this is what Itch and Subway® are trying to tell all of us.
Subway® is a brand that shares the same name as New York’s underground transport system, and to the everyday Filipino, it’s just as foreign and far away. Sandwiches, Subway®’s offer to the Pinoy masses, has always been more at home in the realm of kids’ lunch boxes and the glorious days when merienda or mid-afternoon snacking is actually a real possibility. But sandwiches for lunch and dinner? “’Di ba ako mabibitin diyan?” the everyday Filipino will ask. (Won’t that leave me hungry?)
Talking like a true ad woman, Associate Creative Director Audrey Orallo shares, “Localizing can make or break a brand.” In the Filipino market’s case where rice and ulam(viands) are often seen as requirements for a complete meal and sandwiches are assumed to be the fancy, expensive and even frivolous option, it’s safe to say that localizing can only help to build the Subway® brand. For Itch, localizing simply meant bringing the brand closer to the Pinoy’s heart.
So, how do you hack into a nation’s food culture? How do you begin to change people’s minds about what’s good and sensible to eat? How do you go from “high-end and exclusive” to “yummy and affordable”? Well, with advertising of course.
The rice-and-ulam meal combo is one that goes way back in Filipino history and culture, intertwined with childhood, supported by local agriculture and, nestled in collective memory and ritual. The only thing you can really use to counter it with is something just as fundamental to the Filipino: sharp-witted humor.
Today, that sharp-witted Pinoy humor comes out in memes, hashtags, and clever references to pop culture. Humor is something that brings people together and more importantly, something that makes absolutely everyone feel comfortable no matter their socio-economic background. Which sandwich sounds more friendly and worth buying: a regular pulled pork sandwich or a sandwich that tells you “may pork-ever” (there’s pork-ever)? What will make the everyday promo more enticing: calling it a plain meal-and -coffee combo or saying it’s the “kape-rfect match”? The Filipino who wakes up early to fight the traffic jams, who rides the bus or the train or both, who has to choose between local fast food restaurants every single day will tell you: it’s the Taglish (Tagalog – English) pun that gets the vote.
And there’s the simple magic of advertising – transforming what was once a non-option into a kind, warm invitation to every single Filipino. Together, Itch and Subway® continue to use creative Filipino humor to let us know that the healthy choice is neither foreign nor unapproachable. Subway®, the healthy choice is delicious and definitely affordable enough for everyone to try.