Subway says it 'regrets' handling of 2011 complaint against Jared Fogle

The company said on Monday that it should have quickly acted on the complaint, but added it was not sexual in nature.

MILFORD, CT: Subway expressed regret on Monday for not acting on a four-year-old complaint about former pitchman Jared Fogle.

Subway has denied any knowledge about the wrongdoings of Fogle, who agreed last month to plead guilty to child porn and sexual conduct with minors charges.

Its crisis communications has been short and to the point, with the company not apologizing for Fogle’s actions because they had nothing to do with the chain, a source close to the matter told PRWeek.

After ending its 15-year relationship with Fogle in August, the chain conducted an internal investigation into the allegations against him, extensively reviewing more than 1 million comments submitted to the company’s customer relations team. Subway also reviewed all available documents, and interviewed past and present company and franchisee advertising fund employees and management, a brand spokesperson told PRWeek.

"The investigation identified one complaint that was submitted via Subway’s website in 2011 that expressed concerns about [Fogle]," the spokesperson told PRWeek via email on Monday. "Although the complaint was serious, there was nothing that implied anything about sexual behavior or criminal activity involving [Fogle]." 

The spokesperson added that Subway "regrets that this comment was not properly escalated or acted upon."

The chain did not provide further information about the nature of the complaint or its comms strategy.

The spokesperson for Subway explained that the investigation found no further evidence of other complaints about Fogle that were submitted or shared with the company.

Last month, former Subway franchisee Cindy Mills said she alerted Jeff Moody, the former manager of the company’s advertising, in 2008 about Fogle’s alleged sexual interest in children, according to Business Insider.

Subway has said it does not have a record of complaints about Fogle by the former franchisee.

Moody, now CEO of Rita's Italian Ice, denied any knowledge of Fogle’s actions in an emailed statement.

"I was not aware of Jared Fogle’s criminal sexual conduct with minors and, like any decent human being, am repulsed by his reprehensible criminal conduct," he said.

In the past four years, Subway has improved its processes for reviewing and escalating customer comments, complaints, and inquiries, with better tracking and follow-up procedures and newer technologies, the spokesperson explained.

"The harm [Fogle] caused so many is inexcusable, and we continue to extend sympathies to his victims and their families," added the spokesperson.

Last month, crisis communications experts told PRWeek that in order to save its reputation, Subway must show it had no prior knowledge and was just as shocked as the public to learn of the allegations against Fogle.

Glenn Selig, president and CEO of Selig Multimedia, said at the time, "If the investigation widens and there is evidence that Subway was made aware of allegations by employees or others and chose to do nothing because Jared was selling lots of sandwiches…then Subway has big problems."

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