How are you celebrating Subtember? Subway, (the sandwich chain, not the method of mass transit) kicked off this month on the runway (the one for fashion models, not airplanes) with a fashion contest a la Project Runway, called #ProjectSubway.
Similar to how Project Runway runs one episode per season featuring food items as components for clothing, ProjectSubway challenged designers to create fashion using exclusively items “found” in a Subway restaurant, excluding the edibles; it was an un-ironic echo of Zoolander’s “derelicte”.
Subway spokesman Jared hosted the event, featuring the following contestants: designers Danilo Gabrielli, Jennifer Henry, Mariana Valentina, and Ainslee Bowers. Gabrielli ended up winning the competition after a tie was broken by judges Nastia Liukin (Olympian), Mel B (aka Scary Spice), Althea Harper (Project Runway alum), Raina Seitel (City Girl Diaries) and 2013’s Mrs. Connecticut winner Lori-Ann Marchese.
The winner receives free Subway sandwiches for a year.
Social media played a central role in the campaign. #ProjectSubway created some buzz on Twitter, with Subway tweeting about contest to the brand’s 1.6 million followers, and the designers and judges also tweeting with the hashtag (ClickZ). Photos of the event were posted on Facebook to Subway’s 24.5 million fans.
Despite Subway’s core campaign message of “sustainability” and eco-friendliness (almost all the materials used for the contest contain recycled content), many Facebook users reacted negatively to ProjectSubway. Here’s a sampling of comments from a September 12th Facebook post about Project Subway (which garnered over 11,500 likes): one person labeled the idea “super stupid,” another wrote “So they model fashion made of food wrappings. Food they can’t eat. That is a special hell,” and another added “That seems like a [explicit] waste of time.”
— Nastia Liukin (@NastiaLiukin) September 11, 2013
Subway’s fashion show may have garnered a fair share of criticism on Facebook, but as a promotional event for its long-running recycling initiatives, it was a fun and relevant event in line with its Jared-centric messages of healthy, responsible eating (and recycling).