A Subway Success Story Pioneered by Precision

The fusion of innovation and technology – creative intelligence and creative automation – has become pivotal in modern marketing. This was perfectly illustrated by Gary Howard, Chief Digital Officer of Precision (agency), at CREATE '23 EU.

During his presentation at CREATE '23 EU, Gary Howard outlined Precision’s groundbreaking campaign for Subway, shining a spotlight on how his company, leveraging CHILI GraFx, had redefined what was possible with print and digital marketing strategies.

Subway's Marketing Makeover: A Precise Masterstroke

Subway had a clear challenge for Precision: it needed to revamp its marketing approach through highly localized and personalized campaigns for higher engagement and conversion. With 2027 franchise stores in the UK all able to set their own prices and a database of millions of customers, this was a significant undertaking.

Precision set to work using CHILI GraFx, carefully structured data, industry insights and skills to develop a solution that was nothing short of revolutionary. As a result, they were able to roll out an unprecedented campaign featuring personalized, localized print content for each of Subway's numerous outlets in the UK.

"When we talk about CHILI GraFx Smart Templates, it's crucial to have smart data to complement them. Once you have that data, you can begin advertising in an extremely smart and effective way."

– Gary Howard, Chief Digital Officer at Precision

Imagine every one of Subway’s millions of customers in the UK receiving a uniquely personalized mailer with offers tailored to what is available at their nearest franchise store – this is what Precision made possible.

The Power Behind the Precision: CHILI GraFx

At the core of this innovative campaign was CHILI GraFx. Its ability to automate creative graphic production processes at a massive scale allowed Precision to execute a highly personalized, print and display-focused strategy with remarkable efficiency. As Gary noted during his presentation:

"Data is everything now. Take Subway, for example, with over 2000 stores in the UK, each a franchise with its own pricing. We need to gather data on each store and the customers we're targeting. With this data and the magic of creative automation, we can then create multiple messages, images, and unique QR codes for each campaign. These QR codes are crucial for precise tracking, allowing us to include details like the recipient's address in each code."

During development of Precision’s Subway solution, CHILI GraFx’s adaptability repeatedly shone through, and proved that the innovations often considered the sole realm of digital marketing are equally achievable in print – with the right tools and know-how.

"We serviced 2027 stores and sent out 4,536,519 mailings, reaching over 4 million households. Every single mailer was uniquely tailored to each household. While this might seem like a production nightmare, it wasn't. Each voucher had its own QR code, leading us to create over 9 million independent QR codes for the campaign, all generated on the fly."

Redefining Print Marketing: Beyond Digital Boundaries

One key takeaway from Gary's presentation that might seem counterintuitive in a period of mass adoption of digital devices is that print marketing is not just alive but thriving thanks to innovation. Catalogs are cool again, and they also deliver demonstrably more effective calls to action than digital.

By using CHILI GraFx, Precision have enabled the same level of creativity, personalization, and responsiveness in print as seen in advanced digital strategies. This versatility opens new avenues – and markets – for agencies to explore, breaking the misconception that print lacks the dynamism of digital. As Gary stressed during his presentation:

"In my opinion, there's nothing better than print as a call to action. It effectively nudges people in the right direction."

The World Beyond the Doorstep

Precision also took personalized marketing into the streets and community. In addition to delivering millions of personalized mailers direct to people’s doorsteps, they also delivered a campaign of localized bus stop billboard advertisements for Subway. Again, these were uniquely targeted, enabling commuters to scan a QR code that would point to a Subway shop within 10 minutes of the location. Moreover, by scanning the QR code, the commuter would receive a discount for that individual Subway restaurant – an incentive to make that specific trip.

The Subway Effect: Measurable Success in Marketing

There’s little point in marketing innovation if it doesn’t deliver for your clients. Precision's strategy for Subway was both creative and effective. By focusing on localized, personalized print content, Subway saw a significant uptick in customer engagement and conversions.

Campaign Results

  1. Campaign Scope: The campaign covered 2027 Subway stores and created 4,536,519 mailings, which reached over 4 million households.

  2. Personalization: Each mailing was unique to the household it was sent to. This level of personalization was only possible using CHILI GraFx’s automation capabilities.

  3. QR Codes: Over 9 million unique QR codes were generated for this campaign. Each QR code was distinct and tied to specific offers, stores, and households.

  4. Scans and Redemptions: The campaign received 3678 QR code scans. In the context of an email campaign's typical response rate, this was an excellent result, and...

  5. Redemption Rate: The campaign achieved a 14% redemption rate, a significant increase compared to previous campaigns. The prior door drop campaign had a redemption rate of only 0.87%.

  6. Conversion into Loyalty App Users: There was also a 38% conversion rate into Subway's loyalty app among those targeted in the campaign. The lifetime value of a loyalty app customer at Subway is approximately £75.

  7. Local Targeting Efficiency: The campaign was able to focus on reaching potential customers within a 10-minute walk from each Subway store. This ability to deliver hyper-local targeting contributed to high engagement and conversion rates.

Agencies, Take Note: A New Era in Marketing

Agencies looking to push the boundaries of what's possible in marketing need to look no further than Precision's Subway campaign. It serves as a blueprint for how future-focused agencies should be leveraging technology and market insights to deliver similarly groundbreaking results.

If Precision's success story with Subway inspires you, imagine what your agency could achieve for your own clients with CHILI GraFx. Whether it's creating highly personalized print campaigns or integrating data and design across multiple digital platforms, CHILI GraFx can be your catalyst for creative excellence.

Step into the Tech-Driven Future for Agencies

Ready to revolutionize your marketing approach? Begin a free trial of CHILI GraFx or get in touch with us to discover how you can bring groundbreaking precision and innovation to your campaigns.

You can also watch Gary’s highly entertaining presentation on the CREATE Content Hub.

Want to take a deeper dive into how businesses like Precision are redefining agency work? Download our free white paper on the market shift to a future of Design+Tech agencies.


Kees Henniphof

Jan 18, 2024

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