[interview] Snack break: top marketer Mireille Elberse wants more efficiency and attention for Subway

Choose all the ingredients you want on your own sandwich; from the meat and bread to the vegetables and sauces. This is the simple strategy of the Subway chain. We speak to Mireille Elberse, head of marketing Ned-Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden). After working in the advertising world for accounts such as McDonald’s (at agency TBWA ) and Jumbo supermarkets (at Alfred International), she was ready for a new challenge. In January 2020, she was asked to generate more efficiency in and more attention for the Subway brand.

What have you learned from your previous job and have you applied to your current position?
‘When Menno van der Hoeven, Country Director Ned-Nordics, approached me to work for Subway, I was surprised and excited. He gave me an interesting challenge: create synergy and build a strong team within your business unit. I work with Finnish, Swedish and Dutch marketers. All with their own needs, interests and knowledge. What I got from my previous job is that I find it important to build a good relationship with our agencies. In my previous roles, I’ve noticed that things get better when you work closely together. Of course I realize that things don’t always go smoothly, but without a little pressure you will never get a diamond. ‘

What is the origin of Subway?
‘The Subway brand and I are about the same age. Founded in the United States in 1965, Subway is a global QSR brand with an emphasis on sandwiches. In all our 41,000 restaurants worldwide you can put together your own submarine or “sub” as everyone knows it. ”

Describe a typical Subway customer.
‘Our guests are young and full of life. Sometimes they like healthy lunches and sometimes they crave indulgence. It is possible with all of us. They can choose between a lot of meat on their sandwich or a vegan sub, such as a chickpea and quinoa burger. It all depends on the mood they have that day. Do they prefer a salad or wrap instead of a sandwich? Everything is possible.’

What are your main goals for the brand? And do you plan to reposition the brand’s message?
‘One of the main goals is to get as many guests as possible in our restaurants. That is a challenge. Our guests are a difficult group that does not have a lot of money. They can only spend their hard-earned euros once and there are plenty of other options. We must ensure that we are top of mind. This is a different challenge in Sweden and the Netherlands than in Finland, where Subway is already an important QSR player. We are working hard to give the brand a modern look with relevant messaging that will make consumers want our products. For the Netherlands and Sweden, we work together with Achtung to achieve this. It takes time, but we are confident that we will get this done quickly. ‘

Have your efforts been modified as a result of Covid-19 and what has been your response to the virus?
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has hit us as hard as it has other brands and companies. In the Netherlands and in Scandinavian countries, many restaurants, unlike other European countries, remained open due to different regulations. Our restaurants have mainly functioned as take away during the “lockdown“To overcome the pandemic, working with our franchisees is more important than ever for Subway.”

What is your favorite sub?
“It should come as no surprise that I love Subway’s sandwiches. My daughter Muriël is also a big fan. She regularly says she wants to order a sub. I cannot choose between the Chicken Teriyaki or the Steak & Cheese. Usually I go for the “six-inch“Not the Footlong. We always order some freshly baked cookies for dessert.”

Would you like to add something?
‘What many people don’t know is that we prepare everything fresh. We cut and prepare the ingredients ourselves in the kitchen. The bread is baked fresh several times a day. Our employees in the restaurants are not called “Sandwich Artist” for nothing, they prepare every sub, salad or wrap with heart and soul for the guests. ‘
(PvWK in collaboration with Chuck Studios, Olaf van Gerwen and Jack Lowe)

About Chuck Studios
Chuck Studios is the first global creative company specializing in food specialists, founded by Ellen Gaedtgens and Olaf van Gerwen in 2011. The company helps brands around the world develop distinct culinary identities. Using their expertise in food specialist film production combined with creative and strategic capabilities, the team creates high-end content for brands such as McDonald’s, KFC, Unilever, Bon Appétit and Heineken. Chuck Studios has its headquarters in Amsterdam and offices in Moscow, London and Los Angeles. ‘

(source: CS)

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