Sandwiching an Apology: Many in PR were marveling at the speed of Subway’s reaction to the upsetting story of its former legendary pitchman, Jared Fogle, who is expected to plead guilty to child pornography charges. On second glance, Subway’s actions weren’t quite as fast and clean as they might have appeared at first. In May, the executive director of Fogle’s children’s charity, Russell Taylor, was arrested on child pornography charges. But Subway and Fogle agreed to “mutually suspend” their 15-year association quite a few weeks later. The breakup happened only after police raided Fogle’s Indiana home in early July. “Jared continues to cooperate with authorities and he expects no actions to be forthcoming. Both Jared and Subway agree that this was the appropriate step to take,” Subway said at the time. As we know, Fogle was incorrect in his expectations. Certainly people who spend money eating at Subway will wonder what the company knew about Fogle’s personal life and when it knew it. On the other hand, you could argue Subway moved quickly in the sense that it didn’t wait until Fogle was charged to craft the suspension. The events of last week proved Subway made the correct decision there. More speed—the company’s statement last week was hailed by many for its directness: “We no longer have a relationship with Jared and have no further comment.” Yet speed doesn’t always mean accuracy. The next day Subway supplemented its single tweet with another, this time adding the spokesman’s surname and some heart: “Jared Fogle’s actions are inexcusable and do not represent our brand’s values.” We have to wonder, is there a brand whose values Fogle’s actions do represent? – Last week also was difficult for another major brand. The NY Times’ Sunday edition devoted much of its first section to an extensive and scathing piece about the work culture at Amazon. People debated for days whether the piece was accurate or “overwrought and substituted egregious examples for a pattern,” as Jonathan Rick of The Jonathan Rick Group said. Will it influence consumers to choose another online retailer or hurt Amazon’s ability to recruit in the high-tech crucible? For PR pros one of the principal questions is why the voice of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and leader, was missing from the piece.
- News Bits: Parental Misguidance: It’s more than several members of the C-suite who misunderstand what PR people do for a living. Apparently the spouses and families of PR pros also have trouble understanding how their loved ones earn a living. In a new survey, 72% of PR pros say their parents lack an understanding of what PR people do at work. For PR spouses the figure is 41%. Conducted last week by Everything PR, the survey polled 1,000 PR professionals. – Blue Bell Creameries said last week its ice cream should be back on shelves in several markets next week. As we reported in our April 20 edition, a nationwide recall of the ice cream was necessitated when a Listeria outbreak was discovered. One of the company’s three creameries has been updated and will produce ice cream. The communication surrounding the nationwide recall of Blue Bell ice cream and the subsequent reputation management and image restoration that the brand has been undergoing likely will provide case studies for students and practitioners of PR.
People Moves: Keds named Emily Culp CMO, where she’ll also be overseeing corporate and consumer communications for the 99-year-old brand. A branding specialist, Culp’s background includes leadership roles at Estée Lauder and Unilever as well as agency work at Ogilvy, Digitas and Arnold. – Publicis Worldwide named Guillaume Herbette CEO of MSLGROUP and EVP of Publicis Worldwide. Herbette, who comes from FleishmanHillard, succeeds Olivier Fleurot, who will become SVP at Publicis Groupe. In his new role Herbette will be responsible for overseeing all MSLGROUP entities, including the global events offering through Publicis Live, PBJS and Publicis Events, as well as strategic communication consultancies such as Kekst & Company, CNC and JKL. – Marriott International named Tricia Primrose global chief communications & public affairs officer. – Hodges-Mace named Liz McClellan SVP of marketing, effective Sept. 1. A contributor to this issue of PR News, McClellan will be coming from North Plains Systems, a digital asset management firm, where she was CMO. Hodges-Mace is a provider of employee benefits communication and enrollment services.