Thursday, October 22, 2009

The New "Jared"?

It began with a college newspaper article in April of 1999.

Writing for the Indiana Daily Student, Ryan Coleman pens an article about a former dorm mate he hardly recognizes after a 240-pound weight loss. A reporter for Men's Health stumbled on to the article and worked the "Subway Sandwich Diet" into a piece about "Crazy Diets that Work." This is what caught the eye of a Chicago-area Subway franchisee who took the idea to the creative director at Subway's Chicago advertising agency.

The agency dispatched an intern to Bloomington, Indiana to verify the identity of the "Subway Guy" and at the first location he walks into and describes who he is looking for, a counter worker exclaims, "Oh, that's Jared. He comes here every day."

The rest, as they say, is history.

The first "Jared" commercial aired January 1, 2000, introducing the slimmed down Mr. Fogle who rapidly became a poster child for healthy eating. Within days, Subway was getting calls from USA Today, ABC News, Fox News, and Oprah. Eventually, this most unlikely national campaign translated into hefty sales increases, with Subway reporting an 18% hike in the first year, followed by another 16% boost the next year.

Just as Jared Fogle became the "face" of eating right and exercising, young contenders across Canada are jockeying to become the person who symbolizes youth entrepreneurship. At stake is the prize of winning their own franchise, but the real story may be the spreading of the "YPG" spirit and the energy it creates in the face of economic doom and gloom.

Take Mallory MacDonald for example.

Go ahead, take a look.

And see if this Nova Scotia business student represents something more than just a contest.

Was there something in Mallory MacDonald's "YPG" submission that could strike a nerve with an increasing group of disenchanted young Canadians, stuck with hefty student loan bills to pay for empty promises? Is it possible that a spirit of Youth Entrepreneurship is needed now more than ever to address the current youth unemployment crisis in Canada?

The economic downturn has had a devastating impact on the jobless rate among Canada's youth, with one report indicating a 50% increase from the beginning of last year.

According to Canada's Vital Signs 2009, a quality-of-life report card, youth unemployment skyrocketed from 10.7 per cent in January of 2008 to 16.3 per cent as of August 2009 - a staggering figure which is expected to grow faster than unemployment in the general population. For those youth 15-24 who are employed, the average work hours per week, a meager 23.4, represent the lowest in more than 30 years. Meanwhile, in a recent Youth Dialogue on learning and work, more than 140 youth from across Canada told the Canadian Policy Research Network they did not have appropriate information about the array of careers open to them. They called for more, and better, information on both employment and educational opportunities, including entrepreneurial paths and the trades.

As jobs disappear at a record pace from “Generation-Y”, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) took matters into its own hands with a dynamic initiative designed to awaken entrepreneurial spirit within Canada’s youth. This social-media driven program is geared to 18-to-34 year olds who dream of owning their own business and gives deserving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to win a franchise contributed by CYBF spokesperson Katrina White explains, “We want to give worthy young entrepreneurs a hand up as opposed to a hand out. We thought a contest such as this helps create awareness of the value youth entrepreneurship plays in our economy. We believe youth entrepreneurship is an increasingly viable option for individuals to control their career paths”.

If Jared Fogle helped wage a war against obesity, are young, aspiring entrepreneurs like Mallory MacDonald trying to fight another battle altogether?

Perhaps its the ability to take control of your career path and start a business with little or no cash.

And who knows, maybe Cameron Johnson and Mallory MacDonald are just two example of a growing trend recently captured in a movie that speaks to the power of Y.E.S.

The Young Entrepreneur Society.

Who knows, maybe this is the blog post that does what a small town Indiana student newspaper did back in the late nineties. Could Mallory MacDonald's "YPG" submission evolve like a latter-day "Jared" and light the torch of a cause bigger than someone winning a contest?

Did you just a get a glimpse of the future "face" of youth entrepreneurship?

"It's not always easy. If all this can help one child, we are doing our job”

p.s. ... This first-of-its kind "YPG" campaign has contestants competing through social media channels and video submissions to determine eventual finalists for the grand prize. As part of the final selection process, Canada’s own CBC’s Dragons Den will award one lucky contestant with the franchise and supplementary prize package worth close to $100,000 in an available location of their choice. The winner will be selected in a special live edition of CBC’s “Dragons Den” scheduled for mid-November in Toronto, Ontario.

The contest closes at midnight on Saturday, October 31, 2009

For complete contest rules or to enter visit

1 comment:

kuado said...

I couldn't agree more. Her video really hits it. What a perfect candidate for that contest.