Off Limits

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Sub-human: Denver-based Quiznos Sub has always preferred quirky advertisements -- a man eating a Quiznos sub after it had been in his dog's mouth; a businesswoman eating hers after digging it out of a trash bin -- and the company's most recent commercial, "Raised by Wolves," was no exception.

For those of you who missed the thirty-second ad, whose four-week run ended earlier this month, here's a recap:

Two young businessmen sit in a park, both eating sandwiches.

Man #1: "You got that ordinary untoasted sub instead of the toasted Philly Cheesesteak from Quiznos? What, were you raised by wolves?"

Man #2 ponders the questions as he goes off into a dream sequence.

Depending on the time of day, viewers were then treated to either a "mild" or "spicy" ending. For family-friendly hours, Man #2 lies on the ground, smiling as he's licked by a pack of wolves (huskies, actually). After 8 p.m. and during Sunday NFL football games, Man #2 is caught suckling a mother wolf surrounded by her pups. And for the really racy late-night crowd -- let's call this the "super spicy" version -- Man #1 dares to use the "C" word, calling the untoasted sandwich a "processed piece of crap."

We're not sure what it was about these ads that would make people go out and buy a sub sandwich, but apparently they worked. According to Quiznos spokeswoman Stacie Lange, the wolf campaign was a smashing success, spurring a nationwide growth in sales at the homegrown chain's more than 2,000 stores. "We're always looking for memorable ways to illustrate the difference between our high-quality toasted subs and the competition," she says. "We definitely knew that we were stretching it with the wolves, but we wanted to capture people's attention and be unique."

In an advertising landscape dominated by the Coors Light Twins and Miller Light's nearly naked mud wrestling, maybe it takes sucking a wolf's tit to get the attention of males ages 18 to 49 -- Quiznos' target market. "That type of humor gets us noticed," Lange says. "We need our ads to really scream, and they do. We've gotten a few complaints that we pushed the envelope too much with this one, but we expected that."

But now the wolves have retreated to their den, and Cliff Freeman & Partners, the New York advertising agency responsible for the "Raised by Wolves" commercials, no longer has the Quiznos contract. The company recently gave the account (reportedly worth between $25 million and $30 million) to the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia, whose creative team won the contest by transforming a room at the agency into an oven using aluminum foil and red lights, then putting a local Quiznos franchise owner wearing just his boxers and a T-shirt inside and threatening to toast him until they got the account. "Every few years, we re-evaluate to make sure that we're getting the best ideas," says Lange. "And the Martin Agency really showed that they understood our brand and had a lot of creative new concepts."

What those new concepts may be, Quiznos isn't telling. So we here at Off Limits have come up with a foolproof sub-selling suggestion -- for free!

Ad: "Raised by Cannibals"

Two young businessmen...

Man #1: "You got that processed piece of crap sub instead of the toasted Philly Cheesesteak from Quiznos -- what, were you raised by cannibals?"

(Flash to a dark tribal scene, blazing fire, drums beating.)

Man #2 is greedily picking meat off a charred human carcass.

Man #2: "Yes, I was." (He flashes a toothy grin as blood dribbles down his chin.)

No Moore: "Michael Moore: College Drop Out. The real stupid white man."

So read a sign held up by disgruntled youths who showed up at the University of Denver's Ritchie Center on Wednesday, October 16, to heckle the filmmaker, best-selling author, ball-cap enthusiast and gun owner. But 7,000 others eagerly forked over cash to hear Michael Moore rant on about the Iraq war, presidential dimness and the gross failures of the local media. From the Magness Arena stage, Moore called KUSA/Channel 9 to ask why the station hadn't sent reporters to cover his speech. Apparently, Moore's recent omnipresence on CNN, HBO and Comedy Central, as well as his position on the New York Times bestseller list -- where Stupid White Men has been for sixty weeks, and a new tome, Dude, Where's My Country? debuted this week -- aren't validation enough for the portly parodist.

Moore got to know Denver -- Littleton, specifically -- while filming Bowling for Columbine, the documentary that explored America's fanaticism over firearms as well as the extracurricular activities of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. That movie won Moore an Academy Award, and in his acceptance speech, he condemned the then-new war in Iraq, provoking boos from the audience and earning him the ire of right-wingers, who immediately christened him an enemy of the state (if they hadn't already). But that speech was good for business: As Moore told reporters who gathered at the Ritchie Center prior to his DU talk, attendance at Bowling for Columbine screenings went up 110 percent after the Oscars, and Stupid White Men became one of the most widely read titles in America. So even if some local media ignored his most recent appearance, Colorado has been good to Moore.

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