Move over Jared, here comes Michael Phelps. Subway, the largest franchised restaurant in the world, announced a long-term partnership with the Olympic gold medalist.
Since winning eight gold medals at the summer games in Beijing, Phelps has been in serious demand. He has partnered with Kellogg Corn Flakes, Rosetta Stone, Speedo and Visa. He’s also hosted Saturday Night Live.
Subway itself is on a hot streak: a $5 footlong promotion has helped insulate the quick service chain from the effects of the faltering economy.
The company has been bolstering its stable of athletes to promote its healthy message along with spokesperson Jared Fogle. Michael Strahan, Reggie Bush, Ryan Howard, Tony Parker, Laila Ali and Kimmie Meissner also have deals with Subway. Phelps’ deal is an exclusive, meaning he cannot partner with other restaurant chains including McDonald’s which he had been linked to during the Olympics.
“It’s always a good idea to use a celebrity, said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a food-service consultancy in Chicago. “They own the healthy fresh positioning. [Phelps] fits right in with that. He’s a healthy guy and so far he has a good image.”
Subway CMO Tony Pace said in a statement: “We knew Michael Phelps was a big fan of our sandwiches and we wanted to build on that with him to illustrate that Subway is a brand that can play a role in helping everyone — from elite athletes to weekend joggers — perform at peak levels and make healthier, smarter choices about food, whatever the activity.”
Subway spent $405 million on U.S. media last year (not including online initiatives), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. For the first nine months of 2008, it doled out $337 million.