The Subway Footlong Falls Short - Another Brand Loses Credibility Over Inauthentic Content

Debbie Williams

Written by Debbie Williams on Fri, Jan 25, 2013

subway footlong 11 inchesJust the other day, we, along with every other blog and news media outlet in the country, talked about the controversy surrounding Beyonce’s Lip Synching debate at the Presidential Inauguration. Now, as you’ve likely heard, another major brand, Subway, is making headlines and being sued for failing to deliver an authentic experience.

The Power of Social Media

Like many other viral phenomenons, the Subway scandal started with a Facebook post.  Last Tuesday, Australian teen Matt Corby posted a photo of the “12-inch sub” he bought in Perth, Australia, which measured only 11 inches.  He posted the picture on Subway Australia’s Facebook page with the simple caption “subway pls respond,” and the post rapidly received over 100,000 “Likes.”  The next day, Subway Australia responded with the allegation that “Footlong” is merely a creative liberty and doesn't designate measurement. 

Source: BuzzFeed

This post has since been deleted by the company.

After Corby’s photo went viral, Subway customers worldwide started posting photos of their own inch-short subs. Four out of seven “Footlongs” purchased by the New York Post only measured 11 or 11.5 inches.

Big Dough Over Short Bread

These complaints have led to lawsuits by customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Chicago. The Chicago plaintiff claims that his sandwich was less than 11 inches long and alleges a "pattern of fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise improper advertising, sales and marketing practices."  Two New Jersey men filed a suit the same day seeking damages of over $5 million.  Both cases are seeking class-action status and will likely be combined if they move to the federal level. 

Subway issued a statement to The Chicago Tribune saying that sandwiches will be more consistently 12 inches long. "We have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve," the statement said. "Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide." 

It’s great that Subway is “redoubling” efforts to ensure content consistency. It's too bad that it took this level of negative hype to amp up efforts.   

Consumers Demand the Truth

Thanks to technology, even teenagers have the power to draw worldwide attention to false content and bring inauthenticity to light, like only national media outlets could before.  People should be able to demand and expect the truth. And now, brands have to deliver on their promises and know that people won’t settle for less than a real experience, and will let the world know if they’re full of (or lacking) bologna.

What do you think about all of these claims of inauthenticity?  Do you think people have the right to go as far a suing a company over false claims?

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