Foreclosure became commonplace, savings accounts were drained and jobs started to vanish. At the same time, Subway launched its $5 foot-long sandwich special.
The deal became an instant hit for the fast-food brand based in Connecticut. Within just two weeks of the campaign beginning, sales soared by 25% on average in Subway stores.
The brand’s marketing jingle quickly became a phenomenon of pop-culture. The deal would generate more than $3.8 billion in sales nationwide by the September 1 of 2009, which lifted Subway into the fast-food top 10 list in the U.S.
Nine years later the $5 foot-long has been put out to pasture.
Subway CEO Trevor Haynes during an interview said that the company is not going to require its franchisees to run the $5 special. Over the past few years, the promotion became a very contentious point amongst owners of franchises some of whom believe the deal did not help profitability at their locations.
Going forward, owners can decide themselves on whether they are going to offer any sandwiches at the $5 foot-long price.
Subway began in 1965, when then 17-year old Fred DeLuca hoped his idea of a sandwich business would pay for his medical school.
The origins of the 2008 $5 foot-long deal go back to 2004. At that time, a franchise owner in Miami by the name of Stuart Frankel took note that his two Subway locations at a hospital were very quiet during the weekends. He decided to discount sandwiches by $1 for the foot-long, making them $5 apiece.
In no time, his restaurants at the hospital were swamped with customers on the weekends. That promotion was quickly taken up by other owners until it was noticed by the corporate office and was taken nationwide.
The brand has over 44,000 franchises in 110 countries, but has suffered from other competitors such as Firehouse Subs and Chipotle, which offer what has been called better quality food as well as more options for the consumer.
Making things worse was the scandal caused by the brand’s former pitchman Jared Fogle who was given a prison sentence of 15 years after he pleaded guilty to charges of child pornography.