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MILFORD, Conn. -- Move over Jared, here comes Olympic athlete Michael Phelps. Subway, the largest franchised restaurant in the world, entered a long-term partnership with the Olympic swimmer who won eight gold medals at this summer’s Beijing games.
According to Brandweek, Subway has been bolstering its stable of athletes to promote its healthy message. Along with spokesperson Jared Fogle. Michael Strahan, Reggie Bush, Ryan Howard, Tony Parker, Laila Ali and Kimmie Meissner all have deals with Subway. Phelps' deal is an exclusive, meaning he cannot partner with other restaurant chains including McDonald's, which he had been linked to during the Olympics.
"It's always a good idea to use a celebrity," Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a foodservice consultancy in Chicago told Brandweek. "They own the healthy fresh positioning. [Phelps] fits right in with that. He's a healthy guy and so far, he has a good image."
Subway chief marketing officer, Tony Pace, said in a statement: "We knew Michael Phelps was a big fan of our sandwiches and we wanted to build on that with him to illustrate that Subway is a brand that can play a role in helping everyone—from elite athletes to weekend joggers—perform at peak levels and make healthier, smarter choices about food, whatever the activity."
Phelps has been in serious demand since the Olympics, partnering with Kellogg Corn Flakes, Rosetta Stone, Speedo and Visa. He's also hosted Saturday Night Live.
Subway spent $405 million on U.S. media last year, not including online initiatives, per The Nielsen Co.’s Monitor-Plus. For the first nine months of 2008, it doled out $337 million.