When FBI agents appeared last week at the home of Jared Fogle, the ubiquitous Subway spokesman, news reporters were tagging along, taking pictures of items being seized and of Fogle covering his face. While Fogle has not been charged, it appears he has been cooperating with authorities for the past two months, ever since the director of his foundation was arrested for possession of child pornography. The company immediately severed its relationship with Fogle.
The federal investigation of Fogle placed the company in a place far afield from its core business and threatened to damage the Subway brand. The episode underscores the need for restaurants to have a clear crisis management plan in place. An ongoing criminal investigation of a corporate spokesman may seem like an extreme example, but restaurants are confronted with all types of challenges that have nothing to do with food on a regular basis.
Look at the ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, DC, which recently backed out of a lease at the soon-to-be opened Trump Hotel. Once their prospective landlord and presidential candidate Donald Trump insulted Mexican immigrants, social media and traditional media began to pressure Spanish émigré and celebrity chef Jose Andres about his company’s association with Trump. Andres’ response was quick and on point. He issued a statement taking umbrage with Trump’s defamatory claim. He empathized with his Latino patrons, his co-workers, and he discussed his own status as a new U.S. citizen. Trump responded in typical fashion – he threatened legal action.
Resilience Communications has built crisis management plans for restaurants and food manufacturers that compliment pre-existing HACCP plans. We believe a good CMP will help manage diverse issues, ranging from immigration to food safety to employee relations.