Scottie Barnes becomes Subway’s newest ambassador

Subway Canada has enlisted Toronto Raptors star Scottie Barnes to promote a new addition to its menu as part of its ongoing “Eat Fresh Refresh” campaign featuring pro athletes who are amateur spokespeople.

Barnes is promoting Signature Rice Bowls, a new menu addition that is part of the QSR’s ongoing brand refresh which kicked off earlier this year.

“Beyond adding delicious, nutritious new items to our menu, the introduction of Rice Bowls is yet another phase of our Eat Fresh Refresh journey and shows our continuous commitment to innovating our offerings and meeting—and exceeding—Canadians’ expectations,” said vice-president of marketing Lisa Mazurkewich.

Barnes, the reigning NBA rookie of the year, is literally the biggest star to appear in Subway Canada’s advertising. Snowboarder Mark McMorris and Montreal tennis star Leylah Fernandez appeared in the first ads in April, followed by NHL hall of famer Mark Messier, and, more recently, sprinter Andre De Grasse—who appeared in an ad promoting free subway delivery. Fernandez has returned for the Quebec ads promoting the new Rice Bowls.

Mazurkewich said basketball will be a “key area of focus” for Subway for the “foreseeable future,” with the QSR recently announcing multi-year partnerships with the NBA and Toronto Raptors.

As with previous spots in the campaign, the new work from Dentsu McGarry Bowen takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the making of a Subway commercial.

In the 30-second anchor spot, Barnes is surprised to learn that he’s not promoting a sub, but an entirely new product. As he looks longingly at the four Rice Bowls, the director informs him it’s not yet lunch time. “It is now,” he responds, leading the director to proclaim “That’s lunch everyone.” Other spots feature Barnes promoting individual Rice Bowls.

Barnes also urges the brand to consider changing its name to “Bowlway,” an idea that was extended to a recent pop-up in Toronto, and a line of branded merchandise including jackets, hats, T-shirts, etc.

Recently dubbed the most relatable Toronto athlete ever by BlogTO, Barnes has already proven a hit with marketers, having appeared in ads for AXE Canada and Google Pixel, and starring alongside NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jeff Goldblum in a spot for ESPN promoting the movie Jurassic World Dominion.

According to Mazurkewich, news of the chain’s partnership with Barnes resulted in more than 110 media stories and 17.4 million media impressions. “Scottie’s personality, excitement, and charisma so seamlessly celebrated Rice Bowls and brought to life ‘Bowlway,'” she said.

Carat oversaw media for the campaign, with Veritas managing media relations, influencer partnerships and social content.

Chris Powell