Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Slate talks about those bizarre Quizno's ads:
    What are these creatures? As I say, they're called spongmonkeys. I don't know why and neither did Hall. In your mail to me, you've called them: gerbils with birth defects; Mr. Potato Rats; drug-addled, castrato hamsters; and "hell lemurs" (which, while catchy, is not really accurate, as the lemur body type is far more ectomorphic). Whatever they are, they're clearly Photoshopped, and if pressed I would say the base element is a pygmy marmoset.

    You gotta be kidding. Many of you are repulsed by the spongmonkeys, can't fathom how they would make you desire a sub, and worry that these ratlike creatures suggest an unsanitary sandwich-prep environment.

    Hall says that Quiznos needs to be "dramatic" with the airtime it buys, because it's got a smaller ad budget than its competitors. It's a brand that's still in a growth stage, and its main goal right now is awareness—i.e., water-cooler talk. Mission accomplished, I'd say. By the way, this is an ongoing strategy for Quiznos and has met with some detractors in the past. Last fall, Ad Report Card critiqued a Quiznos spot in which a man suckles at the teat of a she-wolf.

    This is genius advertising! You know what? I totally agree! Teat-sucking was over the line, yes, but the spongmonkeys are delightful. They've got a certain winning charm—you can feel it in the way they sing "pepper baaarrrr!" And come on, the pirate hat? Kudos.

    Is this ad incomprehensibly weird? Yes. Quiznos transformed a piece of outsider art into a nationwide ad campaign. And I'm all for it. I hope their next ad somehow features a 16-foot model of the Lusitania built entirely of toothpicks and wood glue.

    Also, believe it or not, there is some classic marketing strategy going on here. As others have pointed out, this spot—unlike shock-spots with, say, flatulent horses—actually centers on product attributes. We're told that Quiznos subs are tasty, crunchy, warm, and toasted. We're introduced to the concept of the pepper bar, which one imagines is a bar stocked with a menagerie of peppers. (Not really my thing, but still, a selling point of sorts.)

Personally, I find the things pretty fucking repulsive, but that's just me. Go eat Schlotzky's instead.

Although, damn, that song is pretty infectious...

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