Jared, the guy who lost a gazillion pounds eating Subway sandwiches, had his house raided for child pornography the other day. Jared Fogle was not arrested, but his house was searched and a close employee had been arrested for issues related to child pornography earlier this year.
If you are a top executive at Subway, then the only thing likely going through your mid is the prospect of headlines with “Subway” plus “child molester.” This is followed by visions of boycotts and falling stock prices.
Subway acted quickly by severing ties with Fogle. The difficulty in their swift action is that Fogle wasn’t arrested, thus raising the possibility that he is being punished by his employer for something he had nothing to do with. Subway, to its credit, was able to work with Fogle and get him to agree to a statement that this was a mutual decision that had to take place while he gets his own house in order. This way, Subway doesn’t look like they are convicting a presumed innocent man, AND Subway is doing all it can to not have its customers money flowing to a potential child pornographer. And Subway did this all quickly.
I haven’t followed the case in extreme detail, but from the standpoint of a casual observer, which is the same as most Subway consumers and investors, it seems Subway has played this the right way. They struck the right tone: quick action, but not attacking Jared.
When a crisis hits that affects your brand (as accusations involving child pornography around your chief spokesperson certainly do) it is critical that you act quickly, within 24 hours or less. The public must be reassured that you understand the severity of the issue and you are doing something to either correct the problem or as to not be seen as perpetuating or funding a problem. And all of this must be conveyed to the world thought the news media and quickly and thoroughly as possible.
If you are interested in learning how to prepare for a crisis before it hits your organization, you can watch the first four lectures in my online Crisis Communications course at no charge here. https://www.udemy.com/crisis-communications-how-to-survive-a-crisis-in-the-media/#/
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