In 2004, the sandwich chain Quiznos enlisted Joel Veitch’s Spongmonkeys for their TV advertisements. What happened then illustrates the great divide at the time between those who were connected with internet culture and those who were not. Before the rise of social media, that was a large chasm. Vetch was a British animator popular among internet insiders for presenting oddball videos. He didn’t even know what Quiznos was when he agreed to the ad campaign using his bizarre characters.
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Months later, Veitch was back in the U.K., working as an animator on a late-night TV show, and not really thinking much about the ads when they first began airing in the U.S. His email blew up immediately. “Nobody around me had a clue what was happening, it was all in another country for a brand they’d never heard of,” he says. Still, the reaction resulted in his website crashing when over a quarter of a million people went to check out his work.
Unfortunately, the backlash was just as swift. Within the first week of the campaign, Quiznos corporate received more than 30,000 calls complaining about the Spongmonkeys. Per a 2004 article from the Denver Business Times, an Alabama Quiznos franchisee even put up signs in his windows saying he wasn’t responsible for the ads, as they were turning away customers and making children cry.
Quiznos wanted to be noticed. The ads delivered, but not in a way that led to people buying more sandwiches. Read how the Quiznos Spongmonkeys came about at Mel magazine.