Calexis

During my long advertising career, I worked with Bill Cosby for a year or so and with Subway spokesman, Jared Fogle, for many years.  Both of them have been accused and tried for sexual transgressions.  Jared was convicted.

Early in my career, I worked on Jell-O Pudding while at Young & Rubicam in New York City.  I had to negotiate, with our talent people, the original contract with Cosby for his endorsement of Jell-O Pudding and we shot about half a dozen TV commercials with him in New York while I was assigned to the brand.

During that time, the previously lacklustre brand suddenly took off.  After 25 to 30 years of little or no growth, it rocketed upwards in sales, and had a 25% growth rate.  We weren’t sure it was the result of the advertising; but, we soon found out it was.  The Cosby advertising was the reason.  He was fine to work with.  A very experienced actor and unbelievably good with the little kids we included in our commercials.  He got the best of reactions from the kids.  Kids can be very difficult, especially when you give them the opportunity to eat some chocolate pudding.

Cosby was great in engaging the kids, getting them to relax and be genuine in their response lines.  He was yet to be the huge star he became with his sitcom or even Fat Albert cartoons, but he had done I Spy and another short lived TV.  We treated him like a VIP – arranging a lunch time tennis game for him at Forest Hills and nice lunches.

What I recall most was chatting to him about going to school in Philadelphia, where we had both attended.  And my boss being a little flabbergasted that I was chatting so casually with the talent.

Did I see a sexual predator?  Not in the least.

Jared Fogle burst into the Subway universe after being featured on Oprah for his “Subway Diet” where he lost 245 pounds by eating the low fat sandwiches every day.  Calexis had been handling Subway for a while by then.  Again, the advertising featuring Jared was not recognized as a sales driver right away.  It took a few months.

We were charged with getting Canadian approval of the US TV commercials which couldn’t be done without considerable changes.  Thereafter, we produced all kinds of TV and radio commercials for Subway featuring Jared.  He came up to Toronto for the TV productions, PR appearances, golf tournaments, you name it; I went down to Indianapolis to direct the recording of the radio spots.  We also did a series of interstitials on Heart Health for use in Subway markets around the world.  And we did a four day cross country “Tour de Pants” in May 2006 to support Special Olympics.  The US head office loved our idea and later picked it up for US national support.

So I spent a lot of time with Jared, on set and on the road.  Did I think he was a sexual predator?  Not at all.  A little neurotic regarding food, but otherwise just fine.

So what have I learned?  Either I am horrible at detecting a person with a sex problem, or these guys were not as bad as the press says they were.  I can say that both their contracts allowed for termination in the case of “moral turpitude.”  When their personal troubles arrived, Cosby was long gone from Jell-O but Jared took a huge financial hit and was fired by Subway.

Here is a Cosby commercial I worked on in 1975.  Notice the little blond boy would not eat his puddling.  There is another story in that.

We did many commercials and other material with Jared.  While we did a lot of commercials, here is a different TV project we did that got picked up in other countries.

While we enjoyed working with both, we had no inkling of any other life they led.  I imagine a lot of people we have all worked with have shown a darker side from time to time.

Besides, celebrity contracts should always include a quick escape for the advertiser for what the lawyers call “moral turpitude” – anything that morally disgusts the public allowing and makes the celebrity persona-non-grata.

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