Subway serves up real plant sounds in original song for Earth Day

Dive Brief:

  • Subway U.K. & Ireland created an original song based on the sounds of ingredients featured in its plant-based menu, according to details emailed to Marketing Dive. The health-conscious effort revealed today, on World Earth Day, targets the brand’s Gen Z consumers.
  • The sandwich chain enlisted vocalist P Money and producer duo Star.One to develop the “Vegang” track that champions the benefits of veganism. The artists, known for their work in the grime genre, leveraged a technology called PlantWave to devise the song. PlantWave detects electric variations on plant leaves through electrodes, which are then converted into beats.
  • Developed with agency Above+Beyond, the campaign features a TikTok push and making-of documentary short that Subway will share across social channels Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “Vegang” starts streaming on Spotify in May.

Dive Insight:

With “Vegang,” Subway is catering to a young audience that cares deeply about the environment and has increasingly gravitated toward meat-free menu items as part of that sustainability mindset. While brands have long partnered with musicians in their youth outreach, developing original songs has become a more widespread marketing tactic amid a boom in streaming services and apps like TikTok, where tracks can go viral and even be converted into memes.

Subway hopes its crack into the grime scene reads as authentic by working with established artists, including P Money and producers Star.One. Grime is a popular genre in the U.K. known for its fiery politics and outsized personalities. A behind-the-scenes documentary for “Vegang” was directed by Jamal Edwards and executed with production partners RadicalMedia and Wake The Town.

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“It was important to us that the artists had free rein to create an authentic grime track they would be proud of,” Dom Goldman, executive creative director at creative agency Above+Beyond, said in a press statement. “While this story is a serious one, it’s been delivered with a tongue in cheek ode to plant-based food.”

The application of PlantWave technology could add some additional novelty to the campaign. Subway claims “Vegang” is the first plant-based grime track to feature sounds emitted by actual plants. That might seem like a narrow field to operate in, but other restaurants have toyed with similar concepts.

Chipotle Mexican Grill several years ago partnered with the musician RZA on an immersive digital experience called SAVOR.WAVS. RZA composed instrumental sounds and visuals based on each of Chipotle’s menu ingredients — 51 at the time — that consumers could then mix into their own tracks through a custom microsite. Several artists, including RZA’s fellow Wu-Tang members Raekwon, Method Man and Ghostface Killah, participated in the effort.

Original songs from brands have continued to proliferate in the time since. This week, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold debuted a single in partnership with Colombian musician Maluma. The “Rumba (Puro Oro Anthem)” track, which is available on Spotify, is marketed as the first song to feature sounds of the sun. The tie-up supports parent AB InBev’s sustainability goals and is similarly timed around Earth Day.

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