German promo is trouble for Subway

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[London] A surprised Subway International is debating whether to pull a promotion by its German franchisees that has prompted outraged accusations of anti-Americanism in the U.S. Subway's 100 franchises in Germany are using food tray liners featuring an obese Statue of Liberty holding a bag of French fries instead of a torch, with the headline "Why are Americans so fat?" The campaign is a promotional tie-in with "Super Size Me," the documentary by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

U.S. newspapers quoted a press release from U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas and House Majority Leader, attacking the company: "For Subway to thumb its nose at its American customers ... in a foreign country is very concerning." Mike Charest, Subway's Amsterdam-based profitability and marketing manager for Europe, said the campaign is a "simple movie promotion" with "Super Size Me," created directly by local franchisees in Germany.

Subway International has the power to recommend that franchisees drop the promotion, he said, and the company is "still deciding" whether to do so. Mr. Charest said both the overweight Statue of Liberty image and the "Why are Americans so fat?" line came directly from the movie poster artwork. "We were a little surprised by the controversy because both items were directly from the film, which has already come out in the U.S."

Subway's German agency, Supersieben, based in Mettmann, was not involved in the promotion but has just completed a cinema commercial for a Subway promotion offering two sandwiches for the price of one to customers displaying a movie ticket.

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