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Subway pulls ad in face of growing boycott, store closures

Fast-food chain Subway has quietly pulled advertisements featuring Megan Rapinoe in the face of a growing boycott.

Rapinoe, who served as captain of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team at the Tokyo Olympics, regularly protests the U.S. flag and anthem at games-even as her black teammates show respect.

Many franchise owners felt that hiring the U.S. soccer star as a national spokesperson has ushered in the closure of even more Subway locations across the country.

According to a report in the New York Post, Subway lost 1,043 outlets in 2021. That was more than the new outlets they opened, creating a net loss for the fast-food giant. The company continues to shutter locations this year.

The 2021 closures were on top of the more than 1,600 store closures in 2020 and the 999 closed in 2019.

The company’s footprint has decreased over 15 percent –something that is unheard of in the restaurant industry.

McDonald’s, which has for the most part avoided the culture wars, only contracted 3.4 percent over the last few years during covid lockdowns.

Subway franchise owners have told media outlets that hiring Rapinoe as the national face of the company was just one of numerous bad decisions. The company hired Rapinoe after the the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team’s disappointing third place at the Tokyo Olympics.

Social media users were sharp in their criticism of the team at the time saying they should have spent more time in practice rather than talking to media outlets about the state of race in America.

Many say that the company misjudged their customers after they hired another athlete who disrespects the American flag even while representing the United States on the world stage. She’s also been criticized for talking about racial equality while having made bigoted statements against Asians.

“Spending our money to make a political statement is completely and totally out of bounds,” one Arizona franchisee complained last year.

Another Subway location owner shared a boycott notice that a customer had taped to the store’s door with the media.

“The ad should be pulled and done with,” another franchisee wrote of Rapinoe’s national commercial. “It gets tiring apologizing.”

Subway, rather than responding yet again to self-inflicted marketing mess, slowly pulled the ads from social media and television.