Subway, "The 4 to 9ers," MediaCom (Local-Multi)

Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain, is known for going far beyond the media buy with its fresh take on content. For years, they’ve made sure each branded integration passes a rigorous set of filters: Does it make sense with all our other content initiatives? Does it show a true brand benefit? Is it seamless and non-intrusive? The result: dynamic, customized content that is way more than your garden variety product placements. To reach a wide variety of targets, we’ve presented the brand across multiple platforms, including sports like NFL and ESPN and television. And while they’ve seen tremendous success across the board, they were striving to find a way to connect directly with the Millennial market. The objective: Engage Millennials and build loyalty and likeability by going where they are with content that doesn’t sell to them, but celebrates them. The answer: Subway’s very own show – an original series on Hulu that focused on a rite of passage for nearly every teenager - their first job. Called “The 4 to 9ers,” our the show focuses on the pains and passions of high-schoolers who work after the bell rings from 4pm to 9pm.And the protagonists, Mark and Seth, just happen to work at a Subway restaurant in the mall, where most of the action takes place.“The 4 to 9ers” launched as a Hulu Spotlight series with six 10-minute episodes, and the critics raved. TubeFilter called it “funny, entertaining” and “charming sitcom” that “only really feels like an ad when the characters from the show appear in Subway ads before each episode starts.” The New York Times echoed the sentiment, saying “The 4 to 9ers” serves up “tasty comic nuggets” with “a sardonic tone to the dialog” that would appeal to young audiences. And viewers agreed. In fact, “The 4 to 9ers” became such a breakout hit for Hulu that the show was renewed for a second season. It was extended the series on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with 35 “bonus content” episodes for fans to dive deeper into the characters and story – showing how the characters got their jobs, behind the scenes, even favorite dance moves. With a strong fan base and more episodes to come, “The 4 to 9ers” has proven that a branded show could be more than just an infomercial…it could actually be entertaining. Instead of just reiterating Subway’s story, the show is high-quality entertainment that organically incorporates the brand into the storyline. “The 4 to 9ers” became the #1 scripted short comedy on Hulu, with an astonishing 12 million views and counting. The impressions translated directly to a $500 million+ media value. Most importantly, teen traffic YTD is up 19%. With a dedicated “The 4 to 9ers” YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter handle and social outreach program, Subway has become a natural part of the conversation and in fact topped the chart of brands for its online social currency.