Sometimes you just don’t want to play anymore. That is apparently what happened in the Subway marketing department last week when it was announced that the sandwich chain was dropping its sponsorship deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, Daniel Suarez, and the No. 19 machine. Awkward interviews were held with the young driver sporting a blacked out emblem on his suit and when asked what happened, Suarez really couldn’t give a good reason.
After a few days, rumors began circulating that the breakdown in corporate relationships between Subway and Gibbs started back in July when Rutledge Wood took Daniel Suarez around the campgrounds of New Hampshire Motor Speedway handing out Dunkin Donuts to hungry fans. Apparently, Subway cried foul over the fact that if Suarez was going to hand out breakfast to random people, it should be one of the fast food chain’s flatbread egg concoctions.
That just doesn’t fly, especially since it took six weeks for Subway to actually walk away from their responsibilities.
But you might be thinking that donuts and egg & cheese sandwiches are both breakfast foods, so why shouldn’t Subway be upset by the pre-race segment?
Well, because a Subway breakfast sandwich served in Concord, NH is about as genuine a breakfast food as an Oscar Meyer Weiner is the same thing as a Nathan’s dog served in Coney Island. Dunkin Donuts has been the staple of a New England Sunday breakfast, morning meetings, and sweet additions to your morning cup of joe for the last 65 years. To have a rookie wandering the sandy campgrounds at New Hampshire trying to make a grassroots connection with his Northeast fans, handing out dozens of donuts is totally the way to go. If you want to be a simple sponsor whore, by all means, fill your golf cart with those scrumptious Subway sandwiches that nobody will admit to eating.
Simply, the NHMS donut scandal was used by the white collars at Subway to get rid of a contract that they simply had no interest in maintaining. It was an easy out. If you read sponsor contracts like an advertising exec, you will think they made a smart business move by tossing away an association that may have accidentally endorsed a competitor. If you have any sense of what really connects with your regional audiences, you would have seen the appearance by Suarez as a great way to generate new fans for the rookie.
Subway could have moved forward and worked with the Gibbs organization to find a way to promote both Subway, their driver, and appeal to the local flavor as the Cup series travels across America. But Subway was done with this particular sandbox and simply walked away. They will continue to try to subtly place blame for the abrupt end of their NASCAR career on Daniel Suarez and a box of donuts. However, in the end, they have abandoned an avid fan base that is typically dedicated to their sponsors.
Their loss, certainly not ours.
That 1967 Plymouth Belvidere decked out in Petty Blue was a thing of beauty to behold as it paced the field before the green flag dropped for the Southern 500. But the King just couldn’t resist challenging race control one more time and refused to bring his car down pit road on cue, so David Hoots did the only thing a race director can do…he gave Richard Petty a black flag. What a great way to start a night of racing on the Lady in Black.
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