The perfect killer meme.


Admit it. “Five Dollar foot long” is the last thing you hear in your head before you go to sleep and the first thing you think when you wake up.

It’s OK. You’ve been attacked and overwhelmed by a perfect storm of a meme, as has everyone else. We’re just mindless bots in Subway’s world, and if you don’t believe it, check the numbers. $3.8 billion in footlongs is a frikkin’ pandemic of footlong consumption.

Who came up with this killer mental tapeworm? Hint: not corporate, not the ad agency and it wasn’t heard first in a focus group room. A franchisee in Miami did it because he likes round numbers and it’s easier giving change on a $5 item than it is on a $10.

So much for the consumer engagement strategy.

So why, why, is “$5 foot long” so mercilessly effective? Let’s break it down.

First, it’s a jingle. The biggest dirty secret of advertising is that jingles work. No creative under the age of 60 wants to do them, the great jingle houses are all gone, but jingles are what everyone remembers.

Second, “Five dollar foot long” is an incredibly felicitous combination of sounds. It rolls off the tongue like it was coated with mayo, and the alliterative repetition of F sounds gives it that final touch.

Third, it’s amazingly and incontestably dirty, yet manages not to offend those whose minds don’t go that way…whoever they are. I mean, it’s a full 12 inches long! And only $5! That’s a lot of…value.

As Jessica Simpson said, in reference to full 1080p HD television, “I don’t know what it is, but I want it.”

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2 thoughts on “The perfect killer meme.

  1. Alaina says:

    I know many people from many walks of life, and they all have said, “Five. Five dollar foot looooooong” to me either in person or on their Facebook status.

    The whole thing boogles my mind, because Subway's Jared strategy is long gone, cause no one gets skinny eating something that is a foot long.

    Plus, I have to pay $4.69 for a 6″? WTF.

  2. The fact that the incremental cost of another 6 inches of …whatever….is only 31 cents tells you everything you need to know about fast food.

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