Megan Rapinoe’s Subway Ads Swirl with Controversy

Megan Anna Rapinoe is a winger for WNSL’s OL Reign and the USWNT. She is a professional soccer player in the United States.

While playing for the United States, Rapinoe won gold at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the team finished in second place in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was awarded the Ballon d’Or Féminin and was named The Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019.

From 2018 to 2020, Rapinoe co-captained the national team with Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, and under their leadership, the United States women’s soccer team won the bronze medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

She had previously played in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) for the Chicago Red Stars, the Philadelphia Independence, and the MagicJack, as well as in France’s Division 1 Féminine for Olympique Lyon.

Megan Rapinoe Controversy

Again, the Subway brand is in the spotlight, but not for the right reasons. Subway franchisees are not happy with the company’s decision to hire controversial Olympian Megan Rapinoe to promote the new menu, since she kneeled during the national anthem before her team’s bronze medal-winning soccer match.

Customers have complained about Rapinoe’s participation in the commercial campaign, but they haven’t voiced any concerns with the other three athletes featured: Serena Williams of tennis, Tom Brady of football, and Stephen Curry of basketball.

The players, joined by former NBA great Charles Barkley’s voiceover, advertise the establishment’s new Eat Fresh Refresh menu.

In a Subway commercial, Rapinoe, who has also gained notoriety for her outspoken advocacy of equal pay for women, kicks a soccer ball that knocks a burrito out of a man’s hands.

Business Insider reports that several franchisees have complained that Subway is wasting money on advertisements featuring a divisive figure.

Rapinoe, with her distinctive purple hair, was just one of several Olympians who knelt in protest of racism and police brutality in the United States, yet she is the only one depicted in the franchise’s advertisements.

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A Subway customer in Bakersfield, California reportedly posted on Facebook, “As long as you have Megan Rapinoe advertising your company, I won’t buy another sandwich from your restaurants,” according to Business Insider.

A sign reading “Boycott Subway till Subway fires the anti-American” was reportedly posted on the door of a Subway location, as mentioned in the story.

According to Insider, Mario DeSoto, who owns two Subway restaurants in Wisconsin, sent an email to corporate headquarters requesting that “Megan’s advertisements” be discontinued.

Press accounts claim that the North American Association of Subway Franchisees, the largest franchisee group for Subway, has joined the fray.

Franchisees were advised by Executive Director Illya Berecz that their board had already conveyed their concerns to Subway leadership, as reported by The New York Post.

Over 37,000 Subway restaurants may be found in over 100 countries and territories, including over 21,000 in the United States alone.

Franchisees of Subway are required to pay a 4.5% advertising charge as part of their royalties, but they are not allowed to make creative decisions about the ads that are shown to customers.

Public relations disaster struck in 2015 when the company had used brand ambassador Jared Fogel, who was serving a minimum of 15 years in federal prison for child pornography and exploitation, in commercials for 15 years.

A spokeswoman for Subway told Insider that “super-star athletes are a natural fit for the Eat Fresh Refresh campaign,” suggesting that Subway will continue to back Rapinoe.

On July 13, the new, healthier menu was released, and a million free subs were promised. Franchisees of the 66-year-old chain blame CEO John Chidsey, formerly of Burger King, for the lukewarm reception, saying he failed to grasp the company’s core demographic.

A franchisee on the East Coast of the United States was quoted by Insider as saying, “Franchisees are not generating money.” Some franchisees have reported an increase in sales revenue recently; nevertheless, they have blamed the increase on price increases implemented to account for the growing expenses of supplies, food, and labor.

According to a number of media outlets, management does not think the menu revisions have resulted in an increase in customer foot traffic. According to Placer.ai, there was a 0.7% rise in July 2021 sandwich shop visits compared to July 2019.

As if tensions between Subway and its franchisees weren’t already high, they’ve been ratcheted up by the Rapinoe controversy.

Franchisees demanded changes to the royalty structure, increased aid in the event of a pandemic, and increased lines of communication with upper management back in June.

However, not all brands are rendered powerless in the presence of rapinoe. In addition to her Victoria’s Secret endorsement, she has others.

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Collegiate Career

Rapinoe attended college at the University of Portland, Oregon, with her sister Rachael. In 2005, she led the Portland Pilots to a perfect season and the title of NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer National Champions as a rookie.

As a sophomore, Rapinoe continued to excel, scoring 10 goals to rank among the nation’s best. Unfortunately, her season was cut short by an ACL injury.

In 2007, she was out for the season after only two games due to the same issue. Rapinoe, healthy again, helped the Pilots to a 20-2 record in 2008.

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Personal Life and Activism

Megan Rapinoe Controversy

Rapinoe made her sexual orientation known to the public in the summer of 2012 through an article in Out magazine.

Also, she came clean about her relationship with Australian soccer player Sarah Walsh. Rapinoe moved on from her relationship with Smith by starting to date singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone, with whom she became engaged in 2015.

Later, Rapinoe started dating fellow basketball player Sue Bird, and the two called off their plans. In 2020, Bird and Rapinoe made their engagement public.

The LGBTQ community may thank Rapinoe for her philanthropy and advocacy on a global scale. She is active with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and Athlete Ally.

Rapinoe and a few other athletes launched a lifestyle brand called re-inc in 2019. She also has spoken out against sexism and wage disparity in the soccer industry.

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