Jared Who? Subway Turns Spotlight to Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota

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Subway Marcus Mariota Trophy Talk August 2015

Of all the brands that are happy for the start of football season, one of them might be the most elated: Subway. That’s because the beleaguered fast-food chain, in its bid to shake the ongoing Jared Fogle debacle, has just broken a new football-themed ad campaign. Under the banner of “Trophy Talk,” it features No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Marcus Mariota, which gives Subway something to talk about other than Fogle and its badly slumping sales.

Subway NFL Marcus Mariota Trophy Talk ad commercial August 2015

In April, Subway announced its partnership with the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner in a curious way: unveiling an edible bust made out of sandwich ingredients. Mariota was thrilled, apparently. “You could tell it was natural to him,” Paul Bamundo, global director of sports marketing and strategic partnerships for Subway, said at the time to ESPN.

That was shortly before the Tennessee Titans selected the University of Oregon quarterback No. 2 in the draft overall — and long before Fogle’s predilection for child pornography and sex with underaged teens earned him a felony conviction, a huge financial penalty, a prison term and the approbation of Subway fans everywhere, not to mention its executives. (The latest in the sorry saga: Russell Taylor, the former executive director of The Jared Foundation, will plead guilty to child pornography charges as the extent of his heinous crimes starts to emerge.)

Subway also has been dealing for the past couple of years with a sales slowdown that has been ascribed to a number of factors, including the chain’s loss of top-tier “freshness” positioning to Chipotle and other fast food rivals.

Mariota’s new spots are a welcome breath of fresh air for the chain, which of course long has harnessed the personae and reputations of popular athletes, in addition to Jared, to promote its sandwiches.

In the new ads, Mariota (who’s also sponsored by Nike) is eating a Subway and is taunted by a talking Heisman-like trophy until he whizzes a football into the little statue, demonstrating his No.2 overall skills.

With Nissan sponsoring his new team (including rebranding the Titans’ stadium), the red-hot Mariota also can be seen in new Nissan spots (watch below) as football season approaches as the newest resident of the brand’s Heisman House, the conceit being that a bunch of former trophy winners lives there.

In one ad, the Titans quarterback says, “I still don’t get it … We all live here? Seriously?” No doubt Subway is happy the telegenic and (athletically) talented young NFL star now resides with its brand, too.

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