Story at a glance

  • Several Subway franchisees complained to Business Insider about the company’s partnership with soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
  • Some customers say they are boycotting the brand over the partnership, while others are coming to Rapinoe’s defense.
  • The pushback is the latest flashpoint between franchisees and Subway CEO John Chidsey.

American soccer star Megan Rapinoe has won many fans along the way to four World Cups, but pushback to her appearance in a Subway commercial is a reminder that haters are going to hate. 

Several franchisees complained to Business Insider, accusing the company of "misusing advertising funds by featuring a potentially controversial spokesperson in commercials."


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

SOCCER STAR MEGAN RAPINOE TAKES ON NBA STAR DRAYMOND GREEN OVER WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT

THESE 10 INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN SHOULD BE HOUSEHOLD NAMES—HERE’S WHY THEY ARE NOT

WHO SAYS ONE-THIRD OF ALL WOMEN ENCOUNTER PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL VIOLENCE 

CHLOE ZHAO BECOMES FIRST ASIAN FEMALE DIRECTOR TO TAKE HOME A GOLDEN GLOBE WITH HER FILM ‘NOMADLAND’


"By knowingly hiring a flashpoint personality to represent the brand with our money, the franchisor has failed," one operator wrote in the private franchisee forum seen by Insider.  

Another found a sign posted to his door that read, "Boycott Subway until Subway fires the anti-American."  

"We used to go to subway. Not since we saw the tv commercial with Megan Rapinoe [throwing up emoji]," commented Kelli Sobonya on the Facebook page of a Subway in Bakersfield, Calif. 

Of course, not everyone agrees. In response to Sobonya's comment, another user called the complaint ridiculous and said "it is just a commercial."


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


"If there is negative pressure, it is not hurting much," one veteran franchisee from the Midwest told Insider. "I think we need a broad spectrum of spokespeople that appeal to different groups." 

The backlash surrounding Rapinoe involves misinformation circulating on the internet, including false allegations that the soccer player “stomped” on the American flag. Her partnership with the company is also limited, according to an official spokesperson for Subway.

"Megan is one of several athletes and celebrities Subway partners with, but they are not the official company spokesperson," Brad Simon, the company's senior director of brand communications, told USA TODAY in an email.

The pushback is the latest flashpoint between franchisees and Subway CEO John Chidsey, who joined the struggling company in November 2019 amid a rebrand targeting younger consumers. 

"Somebody gave him the keys to the castle and he's just destroying it bit by bit," the franchisee based in the east told Insider.


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

CARL NASSIB IS THE FIRST ACTIVE NFL PLAYER TO COME OUT AS GAY

BURGER KING DECLARES WAR ON CHICK-FIL-A OVER LGBTQ+ RIGHTS AND CHICKEN SANDWICHES

WISCONSIN COUPLE ORDERED TO TAKE DOWN PRIDE FLAG FIND BRILLIANT SOLUTION

‘KEEP YOUR PRIDE,’ ACTIVISTS TELL COMPANIES DONATING TO ANTI-LGBTQ+ CAUSES

IN HONOR OF PRIDE MONTH, GOOGLE CELEBRATES LGBTQ+ ACTIVIST FRANK KAMENY


 

Published on Aug 09, 2021