Is Subway’s Short Footlong a PR Mess?

Though every sandwich may tell a story, it was an Australian's 11-inch Subway sub
that sparked 100,000+ likes on Facebook and the cover of the New York Post.
Source: Subway

Give customers an inch, and they'll take a yard.

When an Australian Subway customer decided to measure the length of his supposed footlong sandwich and discovered it was  only 11 inches, he did what any disgruntled customer would do: He took a photo of it and posted it on the company's Facebook page, along with the message "Subway, plse respond."

The Facebook post was flooded with angry customers demanding to know why the sub was short (it's now up to 131,000 likes, 3,900 shares, and 5,900 comments), according to Business Insider

A Subway spokesman told The Huffington Post that the company aims for consistency. "We have seen the photo you referenced of a Subway sandwich that looks like it doesn’t meet our standards," the rep wrote. "We always strive for our customers to have the most positive experience possible, and we believe this was an isolated case in which the bread preparation procedures were unfortunately not followed."

What's the PR lesson to be gleaned here? Social media can produce anything from a snowball effect to an avalanche in terms of viral spread when the public feels wronged by a brand. And while it's usually the other way around, social media can sometimes drive traditional media—the story landed on the Jan.17 cover of the New York Post.

The public has clearly spoken: Size does matter. So when it comes to false-advertising issues, it's up to PR to work closely with their advertising and marketing counterparts to fix the problem and lockdown the message. Otherwise, the public might eat away at your brand.

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

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  • Roland Morris

    Subway now says that a foot long was never meant to be a size. I wrote to them and suggested this was disingenuous since how was the customer to know this?
    I suggested the fair resolution was to discount any sandwich not coming up tothe 6 or 12″ standard.