This is a guest post from Drew McLellan, CEO and Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

When I say Quizno’s “Spongemonkeys,” odds are you know what I am talking about. Considering the short time that campaign ran, that is a very effective demonstration in the power of creating a buzz.

In case you aren’t familiar… back in 2004, Quiznos launched a campaign starring some odd sponge monkeys created in the UK. Apparently someone mentioned the sponge monkeys, shared them with the agency (The Martin Agency) representing Quiznos, and voila! Buzz was born.

Here’s one of the spots, just to jog your memory.

But the little creepy creatures only lived a short while before the plug was pulled on the campaign.


While the campaign had us all talking about Quiznos, it did not have us eating their food. Their sales numbers were down. The second and perhaps even more compelling reason is that the franchisees hated the campaign.

Although the restaurants’ target audience is 18 to 34-year-olds, and the spots were created with this audience in mind,they sort of forgot about the other critical audience — their own franchisees. Most of them were over 35 and have to live with people commenting on the campaign every single day. And the comments weren’t pretty.

Would it have smarter to do a little market research and see if anyone had an adverse reaction to coupling food with rodents? Yes. Would it have been smarter to share the campaign with the front line franchisees, that can make or break a campaign’s success? Yes.

The lesson for all of us?

Buzz for buzz sake is just not enough. If the strategy isn’t sound and the key players are not on board, odds are not in your favor.

Put yourself in the Quiznos Marketing Director’s shoes. You’ve launched the campaign. People are reacting (both positively and negatively) with great emotion. You are getting pressured to pull the plug. What could you do to take advantage of the buzz on both sides of the fence?

About Drew McLellan

Wall Street Journal calls Drew McLellan’s blog,, "one of the ten blogs every entrepreneur should read." His passion is helping clients discover their story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He's also an author, national speaker, and has owned his own marketing agency in the Midwest since 1995.

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