In the wake of the scandal involving spokesperson Jared Fogle, fast food giant Subway has been searching for ways to revamp its floundering brand image. Fogle had essentially been the face of the chain for a decade and a half, instantly recognizable across the world for having lost a great deal of weight for making changes to his diet with the help of Subway sandwiches. Now he’s serving more than 15 years behind bars for some very serious criminal offenses.
The controversy hit Subway hard. So how could a brand that is rocked by such a massive controversy hope to rehabilitate its image? Apparently in Subway’s case, the answer is to engage in comprehensive reputation by going “old school.”
The chain recently rolled out a new advertising campaign focused on Subway’s history and its beginnings as a small deli shop back in 1965.
A fresh approach to marketing
Judging by this ad, it would seem that Subway’s strategy is to focus on its small-town, wholesome beginnings, which is a big departure from the major celebrity (and ultimate downfall) of Jared. It also focuses on the health and freshness of its ingredients and the restaurant being an alternative to fast food burger joints. This could also be an effective reputation management strategy, as restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King have experienced plateauing sales as people become more health conscious around the world.
It’s not just the Jared scandal that Subway needs to overcome, however. Research from Technomic shows that the company was already losing ground to competitors like Panera and Chipotle (which now has troubles of its own), even before the Fogle news broke. Once the scandal became public, Subway’s numbers took an even larger dip.
It’s certainly an interesting strategy. By going back to the past for its marketing, it’s not just a sign that Subway wants to fend off its competitors by saying it “did fresh first,” but also that it aims to rewind to a simpler era—before it had to deal with the recent scandal.
Your small business will hopefully never go through something as earthshaking as the Jared Fogle scandal, but there may be some situations in which you need to assert your brand’s key messages in a more effective manner. Through sound content marketing, you can help drive the conversation around your brand and your industry, bolstering your public image in the process.