If you had no idea that Quiznos just filed for bankruptcy, things would look pretty peachy for the sub-par sandwich maker, which has received lots of praise for its Game of Thrones/House of Cards mashup. Fans have called it "brilliant," "clever," and "spot-on." And it indeed is all of those things:
But how does an entertaining clip that sneaks in a strained Quiznos reference two and a half minutes in help the company peddle its really very terrible subs? Quiznos's failures stem from charging franchise owners too much and confusing changes in sandwich construction that alienated customers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Quiznos isn't the only company to experiment with this type of marketing, where the primary goal is as much entertainment as it is advertising. Chipotle recently produced an original series, Farmed and Dangerous. Red Bull gave us the most notable example, though, sponsoring Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking space jump, a feat with more than 36 million YouTube views to date.
The thinking goes, if subtly branded content can attract viewers, than the company can leverage that to increase sales. It's a less direct way at making money than screaming "come buy our fast food!"
The question for Quiznos is: Can it leverage its House of Thrones ("HoT"--get it?) success? If the toasted sandwiches taste terrible and franchises are shutting down, will potential consumers care that Quiznos is behind the viral video of the moment? Will 200,000 or so people who have watched the clip form a positive enough opinion of Quiznos give its subs another chance? Probably not.