Jared Fogle has given Subway its first true PR crisis. The restaurant’s iconic spokesperson had his home raided on Monday in relation to an ongoing child porn investigation. The very idea is enough to put Subway in a really bad position; the chain has quickly worked to distance itself from Jared.
Subway suspends its contract with spokesman Jared Fogle, who has endorsed brand since January 2000 pic.twitter.com/JxXfTCklhe
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 7, 2015
Imagine McDonald’s decided to once and for all rid itself of Ronald McDonald, or if KFC rid itself of the image of Colonel Sanders. Yes, the restaurants would move on, but these icons are very closely tied with the brands. These icons wouldn’t be quickly forgotten and would certainly remain a part of these businesses’ histories.
Jared Fogle is a similar figure, in that his story has made him an icon closely associated with Subway since 2000. His likeness has been featured at thousands of Subways all over the world. Jared was also the star of a very recent Subway commercial, once again documenting his weight loss journey.
I guess you can say that the “Jared Story” made Subway lazy. Aside from Jared as proof of Subway’s supposed healthiness (a fact that has been frequently disputed), Subway lacks a distinguishing wow factor. That may explain why it relied pretty heavily on Fogle to represent them rather than move on to OTHER success stories or a new icon.
Subway just allowed Jared Fogle to slide into the iconic status reserved for figures like Colonel Sanders or Ronald McDonald. Given Jared Fogle’s already “colorful” history, this was probably a mistake from the beginning.
— RedEye Chicago (@redeyechicago) July 7, 2015
Why did Jared Fogle get into Subway food? Well, Heavy has a really interesting tidbit that was largely omitted from the “Jared Story”.
“During his time at Indiana University, Fogle used to rent parts of his extensive porn collection to his fellow students for a dollar a video. When Subway opened a store on the first floor of his dorm, he got hooked on the sandwiches while also running his porn operation.”
Apparently Fogle has never had a job outside of his work as Subway spokesperson. Heavy claims the position made Jared a millionaire. He’s worth $15 million as of 2013.
Although Subway immediately began to distance itself from Jared Fogle, it’s worth noting that he’s not been arrested. We also don’t know if anything illegal was recovered during the raid. We do know that, four months ago, Fogle’s friend Russell Taylor was arrested for possession and distribution of child porn. Taylor was the former head of Fogle’s childhood obesity charity before being removed from the position.
The connection to Taylor and the child charity have certainly cast a shadow on Fogle, but it’s still possible he may not be guilty. What does Subway do if no evidence against Jared is found and he is placed in the clear? Their actions may have opened the company to one heck of a lawsuit.
— CNNMoney (@CNNMoney) July 7, 2015
Whether Jared is guilty or not, Subway was foolish to associate its brand with an icon the restaurant never developed in-house. Failure to innovate in terms of its image made the company highly vulnerable to scandal. You could argue that it was just a matter of time.
Do you think Subway should have dropped Jared Fogle? Why do you think Subway built its brand around the “Jared Story” instead of developing their own “character”? Comment below!
[Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney]