Martin Makes Spongmonkeys Out of Quiznos

NEW YORK The strange creatures appearing in Quiznos Sub's latest ad effort originated in an e-mail a creative received during The Martin Agency's successful pitch for the restaurant chain's account last October.

Two surreally silly spots, which broke Feb. 1 on cable and on broadcast in spot markets the next day, are the first work for the client by the Richmond, Va., agency. The ads feature furry creatures with human lips and eyes and rodent-like ears appearing against a photo of the outside of a Quiznos. One creature plays the guitar, while the other sings in a tuneless voice a song about Quiznos. "We like the subs. Coz they are good to us," the creature sings as the lyrics appear in a word bubble next to him. A second spot touts a $1-off sandwich promotion. The spots retain the tagline, 'Mmmm … Toasty!'

Martin personnel including creative director Kerry Feuerman, art director Ty Harper and copywriter Raymond McKinney knew they had to come up with a quirky idea to win the pitch for the $25 million account.

"It was clear that [the client] was looking for something very unusual and interesting," said Feuerman. "They had in their brief they wanted an agency willing to take calculated risks."

Brainstorming for ideas, Harper remembered the e-mail he had received about Spongmonkeys. The message was a link to British animator Joel Veitch's Web site, where he posts computer-generated vignettes featuring the Spongmonkeys. The creatures sing about things they like, similar to the TV spots. "We like the moon, coz it is close to us," the creatures croon in one scene.

Martin creatives thought the creatures might resonate with the target 18-34-year-old audience. They created scripts with the Spongmonkeys after alerting Veitch in the U.K. that they wanted to use the characters in a campaign.

The client loved the spots, and the shop won the pitch.

"We thought that it just spoke well to who we are as a brand," said Denver-based Quiznos representative Stacie Lange. "It was scrappy. And Quiznos has always seen itself as a scrappy brand. … Quiznos has always pushed the envelope. That's who we are and how we've been with our advertising." A previous TV spot, created by Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York, showed a man so dedicated to Quiznos subs that he forgot to wear pants.

Once the shop won the account, Veitch and his brother, Alex, came to the U.S to help create the ads. Joel did the animation, and Alex provided the singing voice of the creature, "so the talent in the spot is the same people who actually created the characters," Feuerman said.

Feuerman is not worried that the creatures, which also appear in online banner ads, might seem too strange. "The more you get used to them, the more they become familiar and sort of loveable," he said.

There are no more ads with the creatures currently in production, but decisions on future advertising are still being made, Lange said.

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