Toasty.TV, Quiznos,

Whether a character using branded sneakers in the latest blockbuster film or a well-lit shot of a fast food restaurant in an episode of your favorite zombie TV series, product placement in entertainment has always been an icky sight to see. Groans, scoffs, eye rolls, it’s all the same. It is not a perfect marriage of entertainment and advertising. You might think, integrating the two further would only incite more negative feelings, but that’s exactly what Toasty.TV is doing to great success.

Toasty.TV mimics the likes of College Humor and Funny or Die: topical, relevant pop culture parody videos. Only Toasty.TV stands out from the pack because the parody videos are advertisements for Quiznos. It takes product placement to a new level because it’s entertainment funded by Quiznos. And it works. Viewers come to Toasty.TV for entertainment. Because the advertiser is also the creator, product placement by Quiznos is a given rather a crass inconvenience. Yes, it’s still an advertisement, but the video prioritizes entertainment.

With “The Burn Trials,” Toasty.TV mocked the Burning Man festival and the film “The Scorch Trials” more than it advertised for its SatisFIRE, a movie tie-in sandwich for “The Scorch Trials.” In addition, Quiznos’ Toasty.TV scored a partnership with 20th Century Fox after the film company enjoyed the “The Waze Runner,” a parody of “The Maze Runner”. The partnership entailed a sweepstakes to win an all-expense paid trip to the Hollywood premiere of the sequel to the Fox’s “The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials”. Lesser prizes were offered, such as the twice-weekly prize of two The Scorch Trials tickets, $20 Quiznos gift card, and more.

Toasty.TV, Quiznos

Quiznos also devised a pull strategy for its videos. Consumers seek out and share the videos, which act like backdoor advertisements for Quiznos. “House of Thrones” and “The Burn Trials” both received great media coverage and pushed Toasty.TV to viral success. That reality is not too far off from Quiznos’ objective. “The overall objective is to reach the millennial on their terms…we want to provide great content to them that they want to share,” Chief Marketing Officer of Quiznos Susan Lintonsmith said.

And reach they did. Since the launch of Toasty.TV in early 2014, Quiznos’ online store locator traffic spiked up 94%. Quiznos’ YouTube channel boasts nearly 14 million total views with the parody videos accounting for almost 10 million of the views. Social media for Quiznos also received a great boost: Twitter up 46% and Instagram up 621%.

The sandwich company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2014, and the decision to engage with their audience’s entertainment interests proved to be a valiant one. For more experimental and successful strategic marketing, we take a look at Mountain Dew’s impish creation for the Super Bowl as well as a video game developer turning drinking water into an ad campaign.