Don't Place Your Brand Equity in One Basket
Creepy as he may look—seriously, that outfit—nobody's accusing Ronald McDonald of sexual indiscretion. Let the ugly Jared Fogle situation be a cautionary tale for brands to avoid putting their eggs in one basket and steer clear of making a singular, fallible person the face of the brand.
While it may sometimes seem like people are becoming more deviant with so many recent and high-profile examples, the truth is there are so many more ways of being caught. Just ask Josh Duggar, or other Ashley Madison enthusiasts we've yet to hear from. Tiger Woods and Adrian Peterson are similarly instructive fall-from-gracers.
Humans generally don't like to hear that everybody is replaceable, but brands cannot have their reputation—and those of all connected stakeholders—dependant upon the good behavior of a single face, let alone that of a celebrity.
As McDonald's has stepped away from its wily cast of characters in hopes of projecting a more adult image, going with made-up cartoons is a safer bet than a brand's founder or most famous customer.
Perhaps an ideal template can be found at KFC, which received good press this week for dressing Norm MacDonald up as Colonel Sanders. Should MacDonald be found pulling a Billy Mays in the corner of a nightclub or selling puppies to Vladimir Putin, the Colonel's outfit could quickly be donned by someone else.
Crisis management takes many forms, as illustrated by my Twin Peaks story appearing in the September issue of Franchise Times. Brands need to expect the worst and prepare accordingly, however depressing the task may be.
For a much more in-depth dive into Subway's recent troubles, stay tuned for an upcoming story from all-star writer, Julie Bennett. That is one restaurant brand—the world's largest by locations—desperately in need of fresh leadership, not just a new image.
This time, Subway, how about going with no face at all?