Despite controversy over Michael Phelps' marijuana use earlier this year, Subway continues to stand by the Olympic swimmer. The sandwich chain this week is debuting a new TV spot featuring Phelps, who promotes Subway's $5 foot-long offerings.
The swimmer announced the debut of the new ad on his Facebook fan page today. The 15-second commercial, via independent MMB in Boston, shows Phelps underwater gesturing with his hands about the $5 foot-long. The camera remains submerged as Phelps emerges from the pool and says: "Hey guys, can I get one of those?" Subway touts its sandwich selections at the end.
Meanwhile, the chain on Monday also kicked off a sweepstakes that gives away $50 Subway cards to 10 consumers every week through Jan. 24. The sweepstakes can be entered via Subway's official Facebook page, which launched recently and is being promoted aggressively by the chain.
Subway signed Phelps as a spokesperson in November 2008 and its past ad efforts with the swimmer include a high-profile ad in July dubbed "Be Yourself." That spot showed how easy it is to personalize sandwiches at Subway and drew a humorous contrast between Phelps and Subway's longtime pitchman Jared Fogle. That ad debuted after Phelps lost his Kellogg's endorsement deal when a photo surfaced of him holding a bong at a party.
Subway and MMB could not be reached for comment at press time.
In 2008, Subway spent $421 million on media, per Nielsen. For the first seven months of this year, it spent $259 million.