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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Jared-ism and the art of sandwich manipulation

By Danny Letz

Corporate shills are often all too willing to use someone they see as gentle, mild mannered and able to speak in colloquial English among “common folk” as a means of marketing their products. Take Big Oil’s current occupant of the White House, Wendy’s Dave Thomas or KFC’s Colonel Sanders as prime exemplars of this truism.

Unfortunately, Jared the Subway Guy is no exception.

When I first set out to interview Jared, who is in Utah to promote the release of his new book Winning Through Losing: 13 Ways to Turn Your Life Around, I planned to use a set of funny, semi-exploitative questions A&E Editor Ben Zalkind and I had devised to unmask this shameless fraud.

Here was a man that used his method of losing weight to profit, gain and lead others to believe that, if they were dedicated enough to purchase Subway products, they too would be able to pray at the temple of American body worship. Jared deserved to be exposed for his sins, and who better to do the unveiling than an overzealous college journalist?

Among the more offensively off-topic questions I’d written were: “Your book states that ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get.’ How would you apply this to a currently employed illegal immigrant?” and “How would you feel about the United States officially making Israel the fifty-first state in the union?”

Over the top, politically charged and exceptionally left-leaning, I could take care of Jared and the BYU reporters slated to appear at the event (along with most of the state of Utah) in one fell swoop.

When Jared finally arrived at Sam Weller’s 10 minutes late, I felt warm knowing that in moments he’d be atoning for all his past corporate sell-out transgressions.

After being seated, I began to find out more about Jared. I knew the exposition: Obese guy from Indiana starts eating Subway every day, exercising, etc., loses several hundred pounds and gains several hundred pairs of large pants; and after reading the incident in Jared’s college newspaper, Subway instantly hires Jared as an advertising asset for the company.

Jared proclaimed to me that he loves his job, but who wouldn’t love being the spokesperson for a proclaimed bastion of fast-food health like Subway? So long as it pays well, right?

Well, sort of.

All of Subway’s intentions crystallized following my casual, off-kilter chat with Jared (see interview). The Subway public-relations liaison told Jared to pull out his legendary 60-inch pants and hold them up for the six people (all reporters) that had come for the signing of Jared’s book.

After a full minute of holding the pants, Jared continued to keep the pants aloft while the cameraman from BYU stepped back to “get a wider shot.” The public-relations liaison continued coaching Jared to “turn” or “hold them higher,” as though he were a Pomeranian dressed for show. I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed.

Not for Jared’s accomplishment. My respect for the man, someone who had desired a change in himself and through his own self will had achieved such, had grown to its highest. It was embarrassing, however, to witness the unabashed use of his accomplishment by Subway for its own purposes.

They weren’t interested in what Jared had to say, just that he held up his pants.

I’d never thought of Jared being exploited as an image for the benefit of Subway (though it should have been apparent); I’d always thought it was the other way around.

Jared, on numerous occasions, has ascribed his “Subway Diet” as a personal means to achieve a very personal goal, saying he is by no means admonishing others to follow suit without the consent of their doctors; yet Subway has no problem glossing over these facts in its marketing campaign (it doesn’t mention that Jared ate his sandwiches sans cheese or condiments and that he often preferred the simple turkey to the meatball).

Jared has little-to-no say in how he is portrayed in the media, and for that, one can’t help but feel a little sorry for the guy.

None of this, however, should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the marketing schemes of larger companies (especially those in the fast-food industry). This is simply a redressing of grievances held against a seemingly innocent participant in a larger scheme of customer manipulation, my way of apologizing for holding Jared’s employment against him.

In short, I was wrong about Jared.

Jared admittedly fell into his current occupation by chance. He now has as much say in what he does next for Subway as I do over the price of gasoline. After speaking with him, I found him to be a man concerned with the wellbeing of others and someone who refrains from allowing people to take his advice for more than what it is.

That’s more than I can say for Subway’s exploitation of him.

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