National weight-loss and pitchman phenomenon Jared Fogle has left Subway in hot water. As a consequence of Fogle's child pornography scandal, Subway has been forced into the spotlight under less-than-positive circumstances.
Though none of Fogle's wrongdoings are tied to the company itself, separating Jared "the Subway Guy" Fogle from the Subway brand is almost impossible. The two have become synonymous.
So, what Subway could have done differently? Could it have prepared for this situation?
The simple answer is that nobody could have been prepared for such a scandal. But the Subway team's biggest mistake wasn't an inability to predict the future; it was putting too much brand recognition into the hands of a single individual.
(To be fair: Subway tried to distance itself from Jared long before the scandal news broke, but his close connection to the brand was too powerful and longstanding to ignore.)
Celebrity Endorsements Gone Wrong
Unfortunately, the problem is all too common. Promoting a well-known pitchman seems like a fast and easy way brands can increase recognition and sales, but time and again companies have been burned by the actions of their celebrity endorsers.
In 2007, NFL quarterback Michael Vick was charged for organization and participation in an illegal dog-fighting ring. At the time, Vick had a $2 million endorsement deal with Nike, which was immediately pulled and left Nike reeling from the consequences.