Subway, the North-American health-food giant of the 1990s, is selling cigarette packs in Mexico. Choose your bread, choose your fillings, add a cookie and if you like, pick a cute foldable cardboard cigarette pack to make your smokes more personal! The decorative packs are designed by the Dress Your Pack company, who distributes to independent vendors and businesses throughout Mexico. Subway is not a formal Dress Your Pack vendor, which either means that they are quiet investors, or that the sandwich giant is merely allowing employees to display the cigarette packs for sale in stores despite the company’s aim to promote good health.
According to the Subway Mexico website, the franchise has more than 700 locations in Mexico, and it is easy to become a franchisee so long as you have the necessary business space. Saatchi and Saatchi Mexico has been a key element to Subway’s marketing in Mexico over the last two years, which has seen an increase in franchises. As a general rule of franchising, independent owners are not allowed to change the menu, the approved decor of the restaurant nor are they allowed to offer additional products that are not approved by the original franchise administrators. Franchisees are also held to strict rules concerning their prices, which is perhaps why Subway is not a more popular location in Mexico.
The photo above, featuring an assembled Dress Your Pack box and a flat pack still in wrapping in front of the Subway Baked Fresh Daily cookie display, was taken in Cozumel, Mexico. Cozumel is a popular island destination for international travelers, including many Canadians and Americans who recognize the Subway brand and keep it in business. Local Mexicans on the island, as well as many ex-pats, feel that Subway prices are far too high considering the average wage is about 150 pesos per day – or about US$11.60. The high price of a classic foot-long Subway sandwich in Mexico in no way reflects the low local wages.
Regardless, certain high-tourist locations are doing well and no one seems to mind the fact that cigarettes are being promoted alongside a supposedly healthy lunch or dinner. According to a 2007 Gallup Poll, South Americans and Mexicans are actually less likely to be regular smokers than Americans. Instances of smoking for North and South Americans has fallen greatly over the last 50 years, but there is no sign that the habit will ever completely go away.
In Mexico, cigarettes packs are available in virtually every store for costs as low as US$2. These packs are adorned with graphic images such as underdeveloped newborn babies and diseased lungs, designed to put the buyer off of smoking altogether. The same method is used in Canada, although a pack of cigarettes there is heavily taxed, costing about $US10 to $13. Whether the products are cheap or expensive, cigarette smokers seem not to care.
If Subway Mexico is directly investing in Dress Your Pack boxes, they certainly aren’t about to go public about it, but Dress Your Packs stand boldly on display nonetheless.
by Mandy Gardner