Former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle will plead guilty to charges of having sex with a minor and possessing child pornography, according to court documents released by the U.S. Attorney's office Wednesday morning. Amid the first allegations against Fogle in July, Subway sent out a tweet that said it "agreed to suspend" its relationship with him, pending the outcome of the case. But what has Subway's response been to the new charges against Fogle? Well, understandably, the sandwich chain has now cut all ties with its former face.
The official charges have came after federal agents raided Fogle's home in Zionsville, Indiana, in July and seized several computers and DVDs. Though Subway suspended their 15-year relationship with Fogle after the raid, they didn't officially cut ties with him until now.
Crisis management public relations expert Jonathan Bernstein told USA Today that Subway should've parted ways with Fogle when the executive director of his charity organization, The Jared Foundation, was arrested on child pornography charges in the spring. Bernstein said that, apart from questions of whether Subway made the right decision early enough, the debacle also presents questions about whether companies should hire real-life people to represent them, rather than seasoned celebrities who are less likely to embarrass the company. As he put it: "You never know if they are squeeky-clean today how they will be tomorrow."
Ken Wheaton, editor of Ad Age, also told USA Today that the fact that Subway only now divorced themselves from Fogle could hurt their image: "Subway is probably going to catch another round of heat in social media. And it's still too early to tell, but unless the company knew something about Jared early on and did nothing, I suspect this will blow over."
Fogle became the spokesman for Subway more than 15 years ago, after he was profiled in the media for claiming to have lost 200 pounds on a diet of the chain's healthier sandwiches. His normalcy made him relatable for Subway customers, and some customers are saying that enduring relatability will make it harder to separate him from the brand.