The worst crises are those that involve abuse of trust with the very people you’re supposed to help and protect.
Priests/parishioners, Boy Scout leaders/scouts, Wall Street/Main Street, generals/privates, and so on.
Subway was stunned today to learn that the FBI is investigating its long-time spokesman, Jared Fogle. If you don’t know his name, you surely know his face. He’s the guy who for 15 years has been helping Subway restaurants take the high road on healthy ingredients, compared to McDonald’s and Burger King, etc.
Now he’s apparently under investigation, with another man linked to Subway, for child porn. According to an AdAge account:
But the search of Mr. Fogle’s Indiana home comes two months after Russell Taylor, executive director of the Fogle Foundation, a group that is dedicated to helping teach kids healthy lifestyle habits, was arrested on child pornography charges. Following that, Subway and Mr. Fogle said they had severed all ties with Mr. Taylor.
According to a local Fox affiliate, FBI sources said that the raid on Mr. Fogle’s home was in connection with a child porn case. “FBI sources told FOX59 state and federal investigators were serving warrants at Fogle’s Zionsville home in connection with a child pornography investigation.”
Subway apparently reacted slowly to the shocking news, perhaps hinting at its failure to have a crisis management plan in place in advance. AdAge:
It took Subway some time to craft a statement, which came out around noon. “We are shocked about the news and believe it is related to a prior investigation of a former Jared Foundation employee,” said a spokesman. “We are very concerned and will be monitoring the situation closely. We don’t have any more details at this point.”
This statement says almost nothing, and helps even less. If your chief spokesman, the face of your company, is under investigation, you had better be a lot stronger and faster.
Even Tiki Barber, whose major talents involved carrying a football, had advice for Subway:
He’s right. Subway needs to part ways with Fogle, condemn child porn as obviously unhealthy and destructive and not what the restaurant chain is about. If Subway doesn’t realize this guy is toast, then its executives are in denial and are the only people who don’t.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with eight offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.