Agency.com Exits Subway Contest

NEW YORK Agency.com, which sparked an industry-wide debate by posting its Subway pitch video on YouTube late last month, has pulled out of the review for the restaurant chain’s interactive assignment, the shop confirmed.

A representative of the Omnicom Group agency here said it withdrew from consideration when it reached the finals of a pitch for a conflicting account, which he declined to name. Subway’s account selection process was taking longer than anticipated, and Agency.com decided to take itself out of the running, he said.

A Subway representative confirmed Agency.com’s withdrawal and said the company hoped to pare its list of undisclosed contenders in the next week.

Agency.com stirred up controversy with its nearly 10-minute video treatment of its response to Subway’s request for information [Adweek Online, Aug. 8].

Uploaded to YouTube on July 31, the video quickly took on a life of its own, eliciting a storm of criticism that it was stultifying and made Agency.com appear incapable of handling the account. Several parody videos were made, some lampooning group creative director Tom Ajello’s fist bump and declaration that, “If we roll, we roll big.”

Yet others argued Agency.com proved its ability to ignite viral buzz, even if much of it was negative. The video has been watched more than 82,000 times on YouTube, generating 420 comments on the site. Industry blogs recorded hundreds more. Agency.com set up its own Web site (whenwerollwerollbig.com), which has cataloged the Internet debate on the video.

The Agency.com rep said the negative reactions had no impact on its withdrawal.

“Our decision was based solely on this conflict of interest,” he said.

Milford, Conn.-based Subway has no lead interactive shop. It has instead used lead ad agency MMB, as well as Alloy and Source Communications, for projects.