Subway: ad spend in the U.S. 2012-2018

Doctor's Associates, the owner of Subway, spent 468 million U.S. dollars on advertising in the United States in 2018. That year the quick serve restaurant chain invested roughly 18 million less in promotional activities than in the year prior. In fact, the company has been incrementally decreasing its ad spend on U.S. media since 2013.

Subway’s sales and stores

In 2018, Subway had nearly to 24.8 thousand stores in the U.S., which generated 10.4 billion U.S. dollars in sales revenue that year. However, similar to its advertising investment, the sandwich chain has been experiencing a decline in both sales and number of establishments. In 2018, Subway shut down more than 1.1 thousand stores across the United States, and that is on top of the 800 closed a year earlier.
Subway’s franchise system relies on the fees collected from franchisees and an eight percent cut from annual sales. The stores are owned and managed solely by the franchisees who sign a 20-year franchise agreement, which, until now, hasn’t been enforced fully. Due to internal conflicts, failed marketing, scandals around the company and its worsening reputation, many stores suffered, and operators were forced to shut down. In response, Subway instituted a new process where franchisees need to find a replacement before they are released from the contract. While this solution builds a safety net for the company, it is also said to create more difficulties for already struggling store operators and thus – a larger discord between the two parties. Therefore, the outcome of the conflict and the future of Subway stores remains uncertain.

Doctor's Associates (Subway) advertising spending in the United States from 2012 to 2018

Spending in million U.S. dollars
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Release date

June 2019


United States

Survey time period

2012 to 2018

Supplementary notes

The figures includes measured-media advertising spending (source: Kantar Media) and unmeasured spending (estimated by Advertising Age). Measured media from WPP's Kantar Media based on spending in 19 media: consumer magazines, Sunday magazines, local magazines, business-to-business magazines, local newspapers, national newspapers, free-standing inserts, broadcast network TV, broadcast spot TV, national syndicated TV, network cable TV, network radio, national spot radio, local radio, Spanish-language media (magazines, newspapers, TV networks), outdoor and internet (display advertising; excludes paid search, video and other forms of internet advertising). Unmeasured spending figures are Ad Age DataCenter estimates including direct marketing, promotion, internet paid search, social media and other forms of spending not included in the 19 measured media. For more information, see the methodology.
Figures for the years 2012 and 2013 come from earlier reports.

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