LONDON – US sandwich chain Subway Restaurants has been accused of anti-American advertising in Europe in a new ad campaign that asks 'Why are Americans so fat?'.
Subway has been called on to stop the ad campaign, which is currently being run in Germany, where tray-liners and posters are promoting 'Super Size Me', the documentary about McDonald's fast food, by portraying an obese Statue of Liberty holding a package of fries and a hamburger with the headline "Why are Americans so fat?".
The calls for the campaign to be withdrawn are being led by conservative US government watchdog, the National Legal and Policy Center, which says that the campaign is designed to exploit anti-American sentiment.
A second US group, Frontiers of Freedom, said the campaign was fanning the flames of anti-Americanism in Europe and called it an unethical and unpatriotic way to increase market share and sell fast-food sandwiches.
The knocking campaign against one of its rivals is no surprise. Subway positions itself as the healthy alternative to fast food.
However, Ken Boehm, chairman of the NLPC, says that the Subway chain has hit a new low.
"Subway has defined a new low in corporate behaviour with this campaign. Inflaming cultural tensions to increase market share is immoral and dangerous. Americans deserve to know about Subway's campaign to insult us abroad and to attack our national symbols," Boehm said.
The campaign has also been attacked in the US by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who said that the campaign was "every bad stereotype about corporate America come true".
The NLPC said that it would open an investigation into Subway and its financial connections with the film 'Super Size Me' and its director, comedian Morgan Spurlock, who won the Best Direction award at Sundance 2004.
The film charts Spurlock's period of living on a diet of McDonald's food and the unpleasant results that saw him put on 25 pounds more around the ribs and witness alarming liver and blood counts.
The attack on Subway comes as it kicks off a review of its estimated $200m-plus advertising account after parting company with Fallon, part of Publicis Groupe, in May.
Subway has signed up New York agency search consultant Joanne Davis Consulting to handle the search for a new agency.
Independent agency, McCarthy Mambro Bertino, which has been handling the account since Fallon's exit has been invited into the review.
Media is currently handled by Grey Global Group's MediaCom in New York and is not affected by the review.
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