SUBWAY’s Global Network Powered By Real Digital Media

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

This morning at #dse2012 Real Digital Networks and SUBWAY restaurant chain are announcing their joint partnership for what could one day be one of the bigger global digital out-of-home network deployments.

A typical Subway installation

Independent Purchasing Cooperative Inc., the independent SUBWAY franchisee-owned purchasing cooperative, announced a rapid expansion of its SUBWAYTV & Radio digital signage network powered by NEOCAST from Real Digital Media, Sarasota, Florida, with nearly 1,000 installations across the U.S. already deployed and with expansion now getting underway internationally.

Founded in 1965, the SUBWAY restaurant chain, headquartered in Milford, Connecticut, is the world’s largest submarine sandwich franchise, with more than 36,000 locations in 98 countries.

Designed to enhance the SUBWAY customer experience worldwide, the SUBWAYTV & Radio digital signage program aims to better inform customers of their food and drink options, introduce new menu items and enhance the visibility of in-store promotions. The program is an elegantly designed marketing and sales vehicle streamlined to fit within the daily operations of franchisees’ restaurants.

The digital signage network has been expanding rapidly since it was launched in 2010.

Bob Grewal, SUBWAY franchisee and development agent for the Los Angeles area, (where over 500 systems have been deployed in the LA area alone) says, “We have experienced rapid integration into our restaurants. We are confident that the addition of digital signage will enable us to better communicate with our diverse customers and drive future growth.”

Dennis Clabby, IPC’s vice-president of purchasing, says that Subway’s goal is to continually increase the value of the franchisees’ investment in the restaurant and to help them successfully compete in the QSR industry.

“With digital signage, we are building a viable, cost-effective program to help our franchisees reach their customers with timely product and promotional messages that influence customer behavior at the counter and increase sale,” says Clabby. “Designed to increase store profitability, the strong positive response of the franchisees and the rapid growth of this program is very encouraging.”

The SUBWAYTV & Radio programming is a mix of video featuring SUBWAY products and promotions, and streaming music delivered via the Internet. Franchisees are currently deploying SUBWAYTV & Radio in the queue area where customers place their orders. The digital signage program includes high-quality hardware such as Nexcom fan-less media players and Samsung 40” commercial-grade high definition displays. In the initial phase, there is one screen per outlet.

Brian Wheeler, director of franchisee services at IPC says, “Partnering with these quality vendors ensures that our franchisees install equipment that is highly reliable and designed for a 24-hour restaurant environment.”

Subway’s Franchisee Advertising Fund team creates content that is specifically designed for digital signage, and in synch with national and local campaigns. The content is muted and full screen, and engaging for a hungry Subway customer. Programming content is supplied and managed at a national level, unique to SUBWAYTV& Radio, but franchisees can influence what is played by logging on and scheduling changes by using NEOCAST Director through a franchisee portal. The network allows for local control of playlists across several time slots, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner.

“Given the size and scope of our business, our marketing emphasis is not on having a singular message during one particular point of time,” says Tony Pace, SUBWAY Franchisee Advertising Fund senior vice-president and chief marketing officer. “We’re selling sandwiches all day long to over 30 million customers per week. SUBWAY TV & Radio gives us a vehicle to interact with customers in a meaningful way. To streamline the localization process, Real Digital Media was engaged to develop an application to simplify and extend content placement functions to thousands of local users without relinquishing centralized control.”

Fully integrated with the NEOCAST Media Server management software, this new web-based application, NEOCAST Director, allows network operators to centrally identify media that is accessible to local users, who can then simply select, schedule and place those media into already active playlists in their restaurant locations.

“Subway is a highly engaged partner and pushes us to enhance our product to meet the unique demands of its franchisees,” says Michael Baron, president, Real Digital Media, “Subway is totally focused on digital signage as a way to enhance the stellar brand, improve already industry- leading customer satisfaction, and make franchisees even more profitable.”

Key factors for Subway’s selection of NEOCAST include having an enterprise version that could scale to serve multiple media players in each of the more than 36,000 Subway locations worldwide; the ability to stream music programming through a media player that also handles the video programming; and the flexibility to quickly develop new features required by the IPC network operators around the globe and the franchisees themselves.

Wheeler says, “Working with Real Digital Media, we quickly established that its software is easy to use, delivers performance as advertised and scales to very large numbers of locations without stress on the system. Equally important, we learned that the Real Digital Media team is incredibly responsive to our needs and is willing to go the extra mile to help us launch and manage a network of this scale. We continue to be impressed by the company’s capabilities and attitude.”

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