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During His Tenure Jared Fogle Became Chain's Dieting Guru and Brand Icon

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CHICAGO ( -- Chris Carroll, the marketing executive who saw Jared Fogle become Subway Restaurants' dieting guru and brand icon, is resigning from the company.
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Mr. Carroll, senior vice president and director of marketing of Subway Restaurants’ global Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust, told he made the decision two months ago and that he plans to take time off to evaluate his next career move.

General management
“Our business is growing as strong now as it has ever been and I’m going out like Jerry Seinfeld, with the ratings on top,” he said. “I want to get into something where I can get into general management and parlay everything I’ve done here.”

He will stay on through Sept. 30 to aid in the search for a successor. “Instead of working under the radar, I’m going to do this clean and straight up with these guys and help them through the transition process,” Mr. Carroll said. “I’ll be able to talk to people on the up and up.”

Since joining the sandwich chain in 1999, same-store sales have grown more than 30%, and the number of restaurants has doubled at the closely held company, said Tom Seddon, CEO of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust.

“While we’re sad to be losing a man of Chris’s caliber, this is a tremendous legacy for us to build on,” Mr. Seddon said in a statement.

Media spending grew to $300 million
Advertising media spending has grown from $90 million to more than $300 million during the same period.

During his tenure, Mr. Carroll has overseen three agency changes and at least as many branding efforts. Shortly after joining the marketer in late 1999 from TLP of Wilton, Conn., where he was a group account director, Mr. Carroll put into review the chain’s advertising account, which had been with Publicis & Hal Riney, Chicago, for nine years. Among the agency’s last efforts for the brand was creating the now-famous Jared Fogle campaign for the local market, which Mr. Carroll took national.

In March 2000, Subway tapped Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, which created a dual message around Mr. Fogle and a wisecracking character named Jim and a shadow puppet voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried. However, citing frustration over the agency’s resistance to create more ads around Mr. Fogle, Subway in May 2003 put the account, which had grown to $220 million, into review. Publicis Groupe’s Fallon, Minneapolis, prevailed in that hotly contested review and created the “It’s OK, I had Subway” campaign.

Explaining a campaign
The humorous campaign, which aimed to show that people can sometimes eat “bad” food if they regularly eat healthier options at the restaurant, didn't resonate with the public. (In one spot, a husband catches his wife eating ice cream, which she justifies by saying she had eaten at Subway. He uses the same excuse when she sees him washing the car in a cheerleader's uniform.) Subway even tried to explain the campaign with a special ad that aired on the Super Bowl, only to replace the effort a few months later with a more straightforward message.

Fallon and Subway parted ways in May 2003, and Subway awarded the account to Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, in August 2004. Goodby broke a campaign supporting toasted subs during the Super Bowl and is developing a new branding effort, while independent McCarthy Mambro Bertino, Boston, handles projects, including spots featuring Mr. Fogle.

The challenge of Jared Fogle
At a recent convention of the National Restaurant Association, Mr. Carroll said how challenging it has been to find a campaign to evolve Mr. Fogle’s role. He told the group that when Mr. Fogle was off the air last fall, same-store sales fell 10% until he was back on the air.

“We haven’t tried to replace Jared. What we’ve tried to do is continually expand beyond a primary low-fat message," Mr. Carroll said. “We also all along have decided to never rush a campaign into the market if we knew it wouldn’t work. I’ve always had the luxury of being able to rely on the Jared work to drive the business.”

Mr. Carroll denied his resignation was related to the marketer’s challenges in finding an enduring branding campaign. “This is completely independent of the tactical advertising issue,” he said. “The advertising we have is working very well but we continue to try to develop stuff that will be better and that’s what Goodby is working on. We’re still working with it and it’s being researched now.”

He also dismissed the notion that the move had anything to do with challenges of working with the powerful franchisee organization or the January arrival of Mr. Seddon. “Nobody gets forced out when your business is [growing] double-digit.”

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