Quizno’s May Be Set for Switch

Just six weeks after making a big splash with a Super Bowl spot that showed a woman taking a blow dart in the neck, Quizno’s marketing chief has left the company and the status of the sandwich chain’s ad account at Cliff Freeman and Partners is un clear, sources said.

A representative for the Denver-based client said, “Cliff Freeman is still under contract at this time.”

She did confirm that the client’s evp of marketing, Rob Elliott, left his position in the last three weeks. The representative said Brooksy Smith is the interim evp of marketing and that Quizno’s has not yet named a permanent replacement.

“Quizno’s has been looking at restructuring its marketing plan and dollars,” said Charles Rosen, director of business development at Cliff Freeman in New York. “As far as we know, we are part of that plan. We’re unaware of any official agency search.”

But sources said the client may already be reaching out to other shops.

Quizno’s spent about $15 million on media in 2001, according to CMR. Media buying and planning duties were shifted in January to Initiative Media from Carat.

Cliff Freeman landed the creative portion of the sandwich chain’s account following a review in 1999, largely on the recommendation of Elliott, who worked at Little Caesars when the shop handled the pizza chain’s account and put out the famous “Pizza Pizza” campaign.

The Super Bowl commercial for Quizno’s, a continuation of the “Oven toasted tastes better” campaign from April 2001, parodied product testing by showing a woman who prefers the oven-toasted sand wich. The re searcher shoots her with a dart, and she falls unconscious. He then re cords her preference for the untoasted sub. A man speaking for Quizno’s says that the only way to beat the oven-toasted taste in tests is to cheat.

Another spot shows the tester and a man staring at a guillotine. The man asks what happens if subjects choose the toasted sub, whereby the tester releases the guillotine.

The chain has more than 1,500 stores in the U.S., Canada and overseas and is the third largest submarine sandwich operation, behind Subway and Blimpie’s. Quizno’s primary point of difference is oven-toasted subs.