AdMiration feature: Jersey Mike’s “Wakey Wakey”

Isa Franzini & Kim Malcolm

For this week’s AdMiration feature, we researched the Jersey Mike’s “Wakey Wakey” ad. 

This ad features celebrity Danny Devito, who Jersey Mike’s started consistently including in their ads in 2022. Since breaking, the DeVito ads have delivered great results for the brand driving both awareness and sales uplift. 

Read on to get our 3-2-1 snapshot of the ad (3 facts, 2 learnings and 1 reflection) and learn how their ad was received based on our data. 

The ad: Jersey Mike’s “Wakey Wakey”

The ad opens to Danny DeVito in bed, waking up to the sound of an alarm clock and smelling freshly cooked bacon. He opens his bedroom window to reveal he has been living in what seems to be the extractor fan of a Jersey Mike’s shop and greets the staff saying, “Good morning everybody! Nothing like the Jersey Mike’s morning prep.” 

As DeVito narrates the “morning prep” to a soothing tune, the audience sees shots of “sizzling bacon,” “slicing of tomatoes” and the “bopping of fresh lettuce.” A Jersey Mike’s employee interrupts the music and narration to ask Danny DeVito what he is doing up there (in the extractor fan), to which he replies “I’ve been living up here for months!” A mailman then comes in with a package addressed to DeVito which he immediately recognizes as his “bacon-sniffing horn.” Excited, DeVito takes the package and pulls out the horn straight away to better smell the freshly cooked bacon he woke up to. 

The ad concludes with the voiceover: “Freshly prepped every morning, it’s a Jersey Mike’s thing: a sub above” to additional shots of ingredients and a ready-to-go sub.

3-2-1 snapshot

3 facts

  • The ad scores in the top 5% of all US ads in potential to drive immediate sales and top 10% in potential to build brand equity in the long-term. 

  • It has strong emotional engagement, eliciting high peaks of different positive emotions from start to finish. 

  • People find it highly distinctive and unique, communicating a core brand message in a creative yet compelling way.

2 learnings

  • Creating different feelings for your audience to experience over the course of an ad can be very powerful. It’s often easier to drive different feelings through the inclusion of different executional elements within the story, rather than relying on one to do it all.

  • Celebrities can be a great asset to gain attention. If you are using a celebrity, use them choicefully. Leverage what they are famous for to add to your communications and ensure the story still makes your brand or product the star of the show.

1 reflection

When starting the ad development process, make sure you are clear about the single most important message you want to land and how this ties to important category entry points. This allows creative freedom to execute in an engaging way which brings that messaging to life. 

Watch us walk through the data on the Zappi platform
Jersey Mike’s x Highdive partnership

Jersey Mike’s started using Danny DeVito consistently in 2022 after recruiting a new creative agency: Highdive. They partnered with Highdive — a small, highly creative agency that truly believes in humor when it comes to advertising — specifically to spice things up for the brand. This was a territory that was new for Jersey Mike’s, having historically been quite conservative in their communications. 

Highdive also frequently works with celebrities and, despite Jersey Mike’s view of never going down the path of using a celebrity in their ads given the heavy use by competitors like Subway, they slipped a Danny DeVito spot into a presentation to executives. 

Nation’s Restaurant News covered the story and how it was received extremely favorably and how CMO Rich Hope recalled sharing it with his family at home and his kids in particular absolutely loving it. 

Since breaking, the DeVito ads have delivered great results for the brand driving both awareness and sales uplift. DeVito worked perfectly for the brand being an absolute Jersey icon and continuing to deliver the core Jersey Mike’s message without overshadowing the star of the show: the product. 

Rich Hope said about the agency and DeVito: “The brilliance of Highdive and these spots is they understand we’re selling a product and they let the product be the star. Danny delivers the message, but the star of our ads is our fresh grilling and fresh slicing – those things come to life when Danny’s saying them. I believe it’s brought in a lot of new customers.''

A deep dive into the ad’s performance

The ad scores in the top 5% of all US ads in potential to drive immediate sales (Sales Impact: 97) and in the top 10% in potential to drive brand equity and long-term sales (Brand Impact: 91). 

The ad is particularly effective among women and older adults (over 45 years old). For older women the ad scores in the top 1% on Sales Impact and top 4% on Brand Impact out of all ads tested among this group in the US.

A strong driver of the ad’s success is the level and variety of positive emotions it elicited, outperforming the average US ad on overall emotion (69% vs 55% norm) and emotional intensity (17.5 vs 15.1 norm). The ad managed to drive a significant amount of love (35% vs 28% norm) and laughter (20% vs 7% norm) throughout, generating multiple peaks of both emotions as the ad progressed.

One of the best things about it is that different elements manage to drive different emotions, with the fresh ingredients and product driving the love reaction and Danny DeVito making it extra humorous, keeping emotional engagement high from start to finish. 

The ad feels extremely distinctive (Ad Distinctiveness: 4.0 vs 3.8 norm), setting the brand apart from others (Brand Distinctiveness: 4.1 vs 3.7 norm) and being truly unique to Jersey Mike’s (Uniqueness of Brand Impressions: 4.1 vs 3.9 norm). Over 40% of the audience said it could only have been an ad for Jersey Mike’s. 

Viewers picked up on the strong use of audible and visual branding throughout the ad with 43% of viewers saying they identified it was an ad for Jersey Mike’s based on hearing the brand name or seeing the brand logo in the general setting or the employees’ uniforms. Over a quarter (28%) of the audience said Danny DeVito played a key role in giving away Jersey Mike’s as the brand advertised. One viewer said “Danny DeVito does a lot of their commercials, so I automatically knew it was for Jersey Mike’s.”

This is an amazing journey for a brand which historically had strong views about not using celebrities in their advertising. Using Danny DeVito consistently since 2022, he is starting to act as a brand asset people recognize to cue the brand and consumers absolutely love him. 

When looking at what people liked about the ad, 27% of the comments mentioned DeVito specifically. Furthermore, the ad scores a whopping 4.4 on celebrity appeal vs a norm of 3.6 for the average US ad containing a celebrity.

While there is overwhelming love for the actor, it doesn’t detract from Jersey Mike’s key message around “everyday freshness” — the product is still very much the star of the show! When asked to recall what the ad was trying to convey, 61% of the audience talked about quality subs and fresh ingredients. Additionally, over a third of viewers mentioned the look of the food in the ad as something they loved about it. 

Here’s some of our favorite comments from what respondents liked about the ad:

  • "Danny DeVito, one of my fav actors, was in the commercial. Also hearing the bacon sizzling and seeing the fresh veggies made me want to get a sub right now."

  • "I was unaware the veggies were prepped first thing in the morning and that as a customer makes me happy to know that knowing how busy the restaurant chain is."

  • "I like that Danny DeVito was in it and then he was living at Jersey Mike's. I like that the ingredients look so fresh and that the workers were wearing gloves and looked very clean."

  • "Funny how Mr. DeVito lived above the sub shop, loved his bacon sniffing horn, loved watching the bacon sizzle as I love bacon, tomatoes looked delicious as did the entire sub. I think I want one now."

As some of the comments suggest, the ad was highly successful in making viewers want a Jersey Mike’s sub! Purchase uplift was significantly higher than the average US ad (30% vs 19%), with 40% of people saying they would choose Jersey Mike’s the next time they are looking to get some fast food after watching the ad vs only 10% before watching the ad.

Wrapping up

There are so many great things about this ad; it’s simple, humorous, and highly impactful in delivering a core brand message, making it one of the most successful we’ve looked at so far in our AdMiration series. Amazing work from Jersey Mike’s!

What did you think? Let us know by interacting with our coverage of the ad on LinkedIn.

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