Subway Turns to Coca-Cola Executive to Revamp Battered Brand

Coca-Cola Co. CMO Joe Tripodi

Subway named Coca-Cola veteran Joseph Tripodi as its global chief marketing officer.

Photographer: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo via Bloomberg

Subway Restaurants named Coca-Cola Co. veteran Joseph Tripodi as the sandwich chain’s global chief marketing officer, giving him the job of burnishing the brand after the death of the company’s co-founder and a child-pornography scandal involving its former spokesman.

Tripodi will oversee marketing, product quality and food safety for the chain, Subway said in a statement on Thursday. He previously served as chief marketing and commercial officer for Coca-Cola, and held similar roles at Allstate Insurance Co., Bank of New York, Seagram Spirits & Wine and MasterCard International.

Subway is reeling from a tumultuous year and slowing growth. In September, Subway’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Fred DeLuca died, putting the company in the hands of his sister, Suzanne Greco. In November, former spokesman Jared Fogle was sentenced to more than 15 years after pleading guilty to child-pornography charges, ending a scandal that had rocked the sandwich chain for months.

Consumers’ preferences also are changing, forcing Subway to adapt. As customers seek more natural foods, Subway is working to maintain its image as the healthy fast-food option. In October, Subway said it was switching to meat raised without antibiotics next year in the U.S.

“As consumers’ tastes evolve, I want to build on Subway’s legacy of innovation to ensure we are always leading in our marketing, product offerings and consumer engagement strategies,” Tripodi said in Thursday’s statement.

Tripodi has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s in economics from Harvard. The 60-year-old spent almost eight years as Coca-Cola’s marketing chief.

Subway, which has about 44,400 restaurants worldwide, has slowed its once-rapid expansion over the past two years to focus more on increasing sales at existing stores. The chain is seeing more competition from fast-casual places such as Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Subway’s U.S. sales fell 3.3 percent last year, according to research firm Technomic.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE