Subway is at the center of yet another controversy—and this time it has nothing to do with tuna. The sandwich chain recently signed on Tampa Bay’s superstar quarterback Tom Brady for a new ad campaign set to air sometime in the coming month. There’s one snag, though: Brady is the least likely customer of the sandwich chain.
As reported by NBC Sports, not only does Subway’s new spokesperson not eat Subway sandwiches, but Brady will allegedly “not [be] show[n]…holding Subway products” at all. According to Sports Illustrated, Brady once mentioned Subway when speaking of his dietary evolution in less-than-glowing terms.
“Over time, what I’ve noticed is that my taste buds change,” Brady said. “I went from, I loved Subway and Burger King and all those types of things, to now, it’s like, the thought of that is like no way! No way!”
The country’s biggest fast-food chain has worked with pro-athletes several times in the past, having partnered with big names like Michael Phelps and Pele. They tapped the Watts brothers in 2020 and just a couple of months ago ran a commercial with soccer star Megan Rapino.
But the Brady campaign is beginning to raise eyebrows. Even without the allegations that he himself would never eat at the chain, Brady seems like an odd choice for the endorsement of Subway’s food. The NFL star is known for religious adherence to clean eating. According to his 2017 book The TB12 Method (and his personal chef), he abstains from foods containing white sugar and MSG, and even stays away from some vegetables that can promote inflammation, like tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, in order to maintain a strict 80/20 ratio of alkaline and acidic foods. Among pro-athletes, Brady is about as health-conscious as they come.
Although the chain used to have somewhat of a healthy reputation back in the Jared Fogle days, at the end of the day, Subway is a fast-food brand, one whose product seems to be the antithesis to the kind of diet Brady promotes as part of his lifestyle.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health demonstrated that Subway meals contributed to overeating among customers at rates comparable to those of McDonald’s. Additionally, questions about the quality of Subway’s ingredients, from its bread to its tuna, as well as controversies surrounding its leadership practices, have all but obliterated the healthful, wholesome image the chain once tried to obtain.
Subway has yet to emerge from its ongoing tuna scandal, which began in January 2021 with a California lawsuit claiming Subway’s tuna was not, in fact, real tuna. That lawsuit resurfaced last month when the plaintiffs adjusted their claim, alleging Subway’s tuna is not constituted of premium cuts of yellowfin and skipjack tuna, as advertised on their website, but rather a byproduct—or “flakes”—of a variety of seafood species.
The forthcoming Brady spot seems aimed to shift attention away from the tuna scandal. Unfortunately, thanks to the mounting skepticism of this match, it might do just the opposite.
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