After Months Pass Subway Finally Confirms CMO Retirement, Acting CMO Appointed

Subway has finally announced a replacement for its former chief marketing officer, Joe Tripodi. As the sandwich shop franchisor continues to search for a permanent CMO, it says its acting CMO is Roger Mader for the interim.

Tripodi had been hired for troubled times, after the death of Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca and the fiasco of convicted child molester Jared Fogle, who was Subway’s former brand spokesperson. Until now, there had been no previous announcement of Tripodi’s departure until yesterday’s news by Marketing Week.

Subway CMO Joe Tripodi has retired after a 40-year career in marketing that has spanned jobs at major brands including Coca-Cola, Mastercard and Seagrams…

Yesterday, January 9, Tripodi told Marketing Week:

“This was one of the most challenging jobs I’ve ever had because it was a privately held company that had lived in a little bit of isolation for many years so I had to drive some significant transformation. The transformation at Subway was the business, the brand and the culture. The business is changing so much that it was just time to let other people come in and run it from there.”

Ad Age reported Subway’s confirmation today:

Joe Tripodi retired as Subway's CMO last year, the company confirmed Thursday.

That interview, which was reported yesterday, and announcement makes it sound like Tripodi left the company sometime over a week and a half ago, which was last year. But that is not the case. It was likely months and months before that.

How long ago?

Franchisees tell this journal that the former Coca-cola chief marketer, who was hired by Subway in late 2015, had mysteriously disappeared for almost a year. Research by this journal from Subway’s franchise disclosure filing to state regulators of May 2017 lists Joseph Tripodi as its chief marketing officer. But a year later Subway's franchise disclosure document, which was prepared in April of 2018, shows Tripodi’s name had already been pulled from the company's list of executives.

With privately-held franchisors such as Subway, franchisees often are left to divine from tea leaves what is happening inside the franchising company. These are troubled times for the Subway brand. Franchisee business leaders deserve to know quickly what is happening with the franchisor, particularly about a vacancy in the top marketing position. Hiding the loss of their chief marketer is counter-productive to the franchisor. It indicates to franchisees that the franchisor is insecure, and particularly where it is insecure — marketing. Moreover, even though such disclosure and transparency may not be pleasant, franchisees' insights, their industry contacts and even the resulting internal pressure that they might exert on the franchisor can be useful forces. The brand deserves their inclusion in such major events. Franchisee business investors deserve such transparency and should not be left out.

Franchisees now have news reports to the public that explain their marketer’s long mysterious absence.

The CMO is gone. Long live the interim acting CMO.