Subway Puts Phelps Back in Its Advertising Pool

New Spots Finally Break With Superstar Olympian

By Published on .

So you heard the one about the world's fastest swimmer and the bong? Michael Phelps, infamously, admitted to an ill-advised toke at a party and a pictures was shot 'round the world last winter that potentially jeopardized millions in sponsorships.

But the swimmer lost only a Kellogg ad deal in the fracas -- and that was hardly his biggest paycheck. Meanwhile Visa, Speedo and Subway, among others, stood by him. But Subway distinguished itself as the last major sponsor to say he wasn't fired. And Mr. Phelps was clearly back-burnered as Subway took him off its unfortunately named FreshBuzz website and delayed his first campaign.

Subway had, after all, scored a major coup in signing the highly coveted endorser in a multiyear restaurant-exclusive deal that executives familiar with the matter say included a number of bidders, including McDonald's.

It may be coincidence, therefore, that Subway waited until the end of the day on a holiday weekend to leak, via the Los Angeles Times, that they're putting Mr. Phelps back in the pool.

Subway confirmed with us that the work, from agency MMB, Boston, will break Sunday.

The new work coincides with the U.S. national swimming championships. They're being televised on NBC for the first time this year, which many attribute to Mr. Phelps' still enormous popularity.

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