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  • Agency of Record in Germany since 2012

Customizing, personalizing, and delivering value for Subway in Germany.


Subway is one of the world's fastest-growing quick serve restaurant franchises. Our team has been working to grow Subway's customer base in Germany, in partnership with GroupM, since 2012.

By the Numbers

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    Stores in Germany

    Essence is helping expand Subway's footprint and customer base across the country.

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    Agency of record

    We've been working with the team at Subway since 2012

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    Growth in familiarity

    The same campaign with Köln 50667 helped to increase overall familiarity by 7% within two months.

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    Growth in sales

    Our campaign with Köln 50667 increased sales by 7% over average levels, producing the most successful sales week of 2019

Recent work

  • 'Make it what you want' with Leonie from Köln 50667

    Over its 55 years, the Subway brand has built its reputation as a healthy, fresh alternative to its closest fast food rivals. In order to re-define its brand personality and to draw in customers from 16 to 34 years old, it was time for a fresh take on Subway’s marketing to increase familiarity and boost sales in Germany.

    Subway seized the opportunity to bring to life their global maxim “Make it what you want” and implemented the brand into the daily lives of GenZ and Millennials. 

    To showcase the repertoire of meal combinations on offer, we focused on highlighting the creativity of Subway employees - our “sandwich artists”. More than 50 artists were challenged to create delicious new subs using Subway’s existing ingredients, with the five winning entries making it onto the menus of every Subway in Germany.

    We looked for ways to engage and reach our audience in an authentic way on a regular basis while the promotion was on. To deliver rational and emotional messaging at scale we chose German TV broadcaster RTL2’s Köln 50667 - a TV show aimed at younger generations - and focused on embedding Subway’s sandwich artist competition into the storyline of the show. Leonie, a very popular main protagonist of Köln 50667 became a Subway sandwich artist in real life and created her own sandwich recipes to enter into the competition.

    To amplify the Subway competitions further, we utilised a combination of TV ads, bringing the show’s conversations out in ad breaks and into the real world. Alongside Subway’s TV takeover, we created an OOH strategy to further bring Subway’s sandwich artists to life, featuring a new artist and creation every week. With social and mobile signals to identify the locations that are heavily frequented by our target group we created audience maps overlaying with Subway store locations.

    To execute our strategy and build familiarity with a young audience, we ran a broad yet targeted campaign, ensuring all touchpoints were covered. Surrounding our bespoke storyline in Köln 50667, we got creative with the ads and formats and using addressable TV built specialised ads to mirror potential viewer actions on social during ad breaks. To do this we ran animated ad breaks, frame splits and pre-frame splits showing the show’s characters chatting to each other and bridging with social media during the ad breaks through posts from the characters’ on Twitch, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Leonie from the show also took over Subway and Köln 50667’s social channels.

    The response to our activation was been incredible. Through new ways of connecting Subway with our target group, we were able to change the way people feel about the Subway brand, increasing brand relevance with younger generations and raising awareness of customisation opportunities at Subway.

    This resulted in 7% increase in sales year on year and 7% increase in familiarity overall within two months (starting from a high baseline of 57%).

    Familiarity peaked during the integrated show and also led to the most successful sales week in 2019.

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