At the Tokyo Olympics, Megan Rapinoe sparked yet another wave of controversy, and now a number of Subway franchises are urging the fast-food giant to pull her advertisements because her political activism is causing customers to complain.
The 36-year-old, purple-haired soccer star, who kneeled during the National Anthem to kick off the Tokyo Olympics before guiding the US to a bronze medal this week, began working for the fast-food giant as a pitchwoman this spring, New York Post reported.
Rapinoe was hired by Subway in April for a commercial in which she kicks a soccer ball that knocks a man’s burrito from his hands, and tells him to eat a Subway sandwich instead. She is currently featured alongside Serena Williams, Tom Brady, and basketball player Steph Curry in their sports-themed spot.
Her commercials, on the other hand, have caused controversy.
Subway does not own any of its almost 22,000 stores, but it does charge franchisees 4.5 percent of revenue for a national advertising fund, which it manages from its headquarters in Connecticut.
An Arizona owner said on the NAASF blog: “Spending our money to make a political statement is completely and totally out of bounds.”
According to franchisees, the response has been mixed. A Wisconsin store owner shared a picture of a hand-scrawled note from an irate customer attached to the front door of his shop on a discussion forum sponsored by the North American Association of Subway Franchisees late last month.
“Boycott Subway until Subway fires the anti-American … Megan Rapinoe, the creep who kneels for our beloved National Anthem!” the note said.
“The ad should be pulled and done with,” the franchisee talked about the Rapinoe spot. “It gets tiring apologizing.”
Representatives from the NAASF told members last week that the group had expressed its concerns to senior leadership, led by CEO John Chidsey.
“Your NAASF Board has already communicated with [Subway] leadership the concerns voiced by NAASF membership,” the group’s executive director, Illya Berecz, told franchisees, according to a letter obtained by The New York Post.
“I had a bunch of franchisees calling me on this today,” a lawyer who represents Subway franchisees told The Post earlier this week. “They are trying to get the ads pulled.”