SBD/February 9, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Catching Up With Subway Dir of Sports Marketing & PR Paul Bamundo

Bamundo encouraged Ohno to run in this fall's ING N.Y. Marathon
Orchestrating Subway's sports marketing efforts is PAUL BAMUNDO, who was promoted to Dir of Sports Marketing & PR last fall. A native New Yorker who grew up on Staten Island and now lives in Brooklyn, Bamundo joined Subway in '08 after stints with the NBA and IMG, where he worked in the fashion space and sold sponsorships to Fashion Weeks throughout the U.S. Bamundo recently took some time to speak with Staff Writer William Cooper about the company's new deal with APOLO ANTON OHNO, plans for marketing and the general sports marketing landscape.

Favorite Subway sub
: Turkey with American on Italian herb and cheese with a lot of peppers. I just love peppers, banana peppers, sweet peppers, that's kind of my thing.
First jersey you bought/received: BRAD VAN PELT No. 10 Giants jersey.
Favorite sports team: All the traditional New York teams: the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers. All the old-time teams in each one of the leagues.
Favorite Staten Island establishment: Denino's. It's a great pizza place, my favorite.

Quick hits
Most fashionable athlete: LAILA ALI. We have her in the Heart Truth Red Dress Fashion Show, she's walking in that today.
Nets in Brooklyn: Great to have a pro team back in Brooklyn.
Apolo Anton Ohno: Winner.

Q: Did you have anything to do with Ohno's, or JARED's, plans to run in the N.Y. Marathon this year and last year, respectively?
Bamundo: Absolutely. In fact it was a PR idea to have Jared run it, and we kind of took that ball and ran with it. For me, having been on the property side with IMG and the NBA, I believe in official partnerships, and if it's the right deal I'm all the more happy to do it. So I worked with my good friend ANN CRANDALL over at N.Y. Road Runners, the CMO there, and I said, "Not only do we want Jared to run, let's do a partnership deal." And so we became the official training restaurant of the N.Y. Marathon, and we will be again this year. Frankly, Apolo running was my idea. I thought we had such great success with Jared doing it, I wanted to approach one of our "famous fans" and see if they'd be willing to do it. That was a principal part of our relationship with Apolo and loved that he was willing to do it and take on the challenge from Jared.

Q: Do you see that trend of running the marathon continuing in the future with your athletes?
Bamundo: It's hard to say. I think the marathon overall works for us. It's the right type of event, because we're all about healthy eating and a healthy active lifestyle. I don't know what the future may hold, I know Jared keeps saying on record that he won't ever do it again, but we'll see about that. But I think Apolo is a great next step.

Q: Ohno is one of several Subway Olympic "famous fans," along with NASTIA LIUKIN and MICHAEL PHELPS. How much has the focus on healthy eating played into choosing Olympic athletes in particular as endorsers?
Bamundo: One hundred percent. That's what it's about. For us it's really about who are true famous fans of the brand, and we knew that Michael was and found out that Nastia was and I found out that Apolo was. They're obviously at the height of their own individual sports. It's wonderful to be associated with winners. They're famous fans of the brand, and they're also winners, and nothing is more telling of that in their individual sports as being successful as they've been on the international stage, the biggest stage in the world.

Q: Given your background with the NBA, is that a league in particular you are focusing on for future marketing efforts?
Bamundo: It's definitely been on my watch. For the past two-and-a-half to three years that I've been here, a thing that I've kind of wanted to bring to the table is doing more in basketball. So we had a deal with TONY PARKER and really enjoyed working with Tony, and decided that BLAKE (GRIFFIN) was the right guy to take out of the draft a couple of years ago, and even though he got hurt right away, we decided to stick with him. And I'm really glad we did. He's a wonderful guy and a fantastic player and I see some great things for him, I really do. I very much enjoyed my time at the NBA and I think the world of the league, and I think it's a good thing for us to be involved in more basketball. That was one thing I talked to [CMO] TONY PACE about right away.

Q: Do you plan on amping up marketing around Griffin given the season he is having and his potential winning of the Rookie of the Year Award?
Bamundo: Sure. It was always in the plans anyway regardless of awards or not, but we were confident that he would be that good. He's another winner for us. We use the tagline, "Subway: Where Winners Eat," and we think he's an embodiment of that too. You will see an ad coming out with him very shortly in the next couple of weeks. We've got some great social media -- that's another thing that I am charge in here as the leader of a cross-functional team of people, I want to do a lot more with Blake socially -- so we've got a big social media and digital media push with him. Of course we would celebrate if he happens to win that award, in fact we were lucky enough to have NDAMUKONG SUH be the best rookie in football this year too.

Q: What was your favorite Super Bowl ad, and why?
Bamundo: The 60-second spot for the Volkswagen ad with the "Star Wars" and Darth Vader kid. I think that's a phenomenal ad, and I think the numbers are bearing that out too. The proof is in the pudding for what people like, and I'm no different. I was born in the '70s and was a kid in the '80s, and "Star Wars" was a huge thing for me, so I think it was a very, very wise and interesting ad. It kind of tugs at the heart strings from young people all the way up through folks who either see that little boy in themselves or their own children.

Q: Besides your own company, who do you feel does an effective job with its sports marketing?
Bamundo: The one that comes to mind immediately is Under Armour. I've always thought Under Armour is a kindred spirit to Subway. We come across those guys all the time. Of course they are more endemic to the sport so that's something that's natural. But as a brand that came in later and doing it with smaller budgets and being nimble and getting great results with smaller budgets and less resources, I think the world of them personally. That's a brand that's been successful and one to watch, because I think they are doing it the right way.
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