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

1 Comment

Deals of the Week

$150 Off PR News' Social Media Summit

socialmedia201602-180x150Join PR News in Huntington Beach, CA on Feb. 26 for the Social Media Summit, where you'll be immersed in real-world, tactical case studies from brands, nonprofits and agencies and get takeaways in pulling and analyzing social media data; emerging social platforms and apps and so much more. 

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 o the regular rate.

$50 off the CSR & Green PR Guidebook

csr_vol7_print_digital-thumbPR News’ CSR & Green PR Guidebook, Vol. 7 captures best practices in communicating the positive relationships that organizations are building with their communities of interest. This six-chapter guidebook connects the dots between the effective communication of positive social contributions and corresponding improvements in bottom lines.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

  • 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.