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Take an inch off a foot-long sub; patrons give firm a mile of beef

By Associated Press


associated press / 2009Subway is taking some heat because a picture posted on the company's Facebook page Wednesday showed one of its foot-long sandwiches coming up short when placed next to a tape measure.

NEW YORK » What's in an inch? Apparently, enough missing meat, cheese and tomatoes to cause an uproar.

Subway, the world's largest fast food chain with 38,000 locations, is encountering widespread criticism after a man who appears to be from Australia posted a photo on the company's Facebook page of one of its footlong sandwiches next to a tape measure that shows the sub is just 11 inches.

More than 100,000 people have "liked" or commented on the photo, which had the caption "Subway pls respond." Look-alike pictures popped up elsewhere on Facebook. The New York Post conducted its own investigation that found that four out of seven footlong sandwiches that it measured were shy of the 12 inches that makes a foot.

The original photo was no longer visible by Thursday afternoon on Subway's Facebook page, which has 19.8 million fans. A spokes­man for Subway, which is based in Milford, Conn., said Subway did not remove it.

Subway said the length of its sandwiches may vary slightly when its bread, which is baked at each Subway location, is not made to the chain's exact specifications.

"We are reinforcing our policies and procedures in an effort to ensure our offerings are always consistent no matter which Subway restaurant you visit," read an emailed statement.

The Subway photo — and the backlash — illustrates a challenge companies face with the growth of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Before, someone in a far-flung local in Australia would not be able to cause such a stir. But the power of social media means that negative posts about a company can spread around the world in seconds.

"People look for the gap between what companies say and what they give, and when they find the gap — be it a mile or an inch — they can now raise a flag and say, ‘Hey look at this, I caught you,'" said Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates in New York.

Subway has always offered foot-long sandwiches since it opened in 1965. A customer can order any sandwich as a foot-long. The chain introduced a $5 foot-long promotion in 2008 as the U.S. fell into the recession, and has continued offering the popular option throughout the recovery.

An attempt to contact someone with the same name and country as the person who posted the photo of the sandwich on Subway's Facebook page was not returned Thursday.

But comments by other Facebook users about the photo ran the gamut from outrage to indifference to amusement. One commenter urged people to "chill out." Another one said she was switching to Quiznos. One man posted a photo of his foot in a sock next to a Subway sandwich to show it was shorter than a "foot."

"I've never seen so many people in an uproar over an inch. Wow," read one Facebook post.

"Let's all head to McDonald's and weigh a Quarter Pounder," suggested another poster.

The Subway footlong photo is just the latest in a string of public relations headaches caused by a negative photo or event about a company going viral.

Last year a Burger King employee tweeted with a picture of someone standing in sneakers on two tubs of uncovered lettuce.

Domino's Pizza employees posted a video on YouTube of workers defacing a pizza in 2009. Last year a KitchenAid employee made a disparaging remark about President Barack Obama using the official KitchenAid Twitter account.

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bender wrote:
You should deliver what you promise. The StarAdvertiser should take note of that with their recent fiascos for user log in.
on January 18,2013 | 04:52AM
busterb wrote:
What does it matter that the $5 footlong isn't 12"? It isn't even $5 in Hawaii. Plus they probably saved the guys life in that if he eats there every month, he ate one less sandwich a year.
on January 18,2013 | 07:40AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
This will only make Subway stretch the buns and they will become skinnier. Big whoops.
on January 18,2013 | 07:45AM
serious wrote:
Exactly, surprised Obama didn't come on TV and make a comment. Subway is privately owned and the biggest fast food enterprise. I recall many moons ago when in Japan, they found out that the 1,000 sheets of toilet paper came up 2-3 sheets short--not THAT is a problem. No c-ap.
on January 18,2013 | 08:44AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I bet City Mill is running out of tape measures.
on January 18,2013 | 08:59AM
alfhawaii wrote:
its not $5 in Hawaii
on January 18,2013 | 09:42AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This is not new to me. I have seen this kind of thing from local franchises in Hawaii. If you had ordered the lobster sandwich from Quiznos in Iwilei you were treated to the shock of your fast food life. The sandwich had a very thin layer of what appeared to be tuna salad. There was not much lobster to be had in this sandwich. And did not look anything like the sandwich on the poster or on television. Unfortunately, we in Hawaii are so used to be shafted by these local franchises that whenever something like this happens it is just another thing we have to live with. And these local franchises continue to shaft us local consumers because we contiinue to go to them. A perfect example is the commercials for a local taco restaurant here that puts out a local version of a national commercial that states that their mini burrito is $1.49 when in fact it is being advertised for 99 cents on the mainland. Ironically, their jingle states, "Why pay more?" You just did pay more. Then there is that local burger joint that charges $1.49 for a burger that goes for 99 cents on the maniand. Then there is the local pizza chain that has their local version of the nationally advertised ten dollar pizza for $16.99. Why such a big jump in price? Their excuse is shipping, cost of doing business in Hawaii, etc. But if you analyze the $6.99 price increase from the national price point you come to realize that you've been had. You don't need to be a business executive to realize that the mark up is outrageous. Yes, it does cost more to do business in Hawaii because of the cost of utilities, rent/lease etc. but our minimum wage is one of the lowest in the nation. It is downright shameful how greedy our local businesses are that they will rip off their kama'aina. Just to see how outrageous our local businesses are go to Waikiki where you will see their actions at their extreme best. There is only one way to deal with these greedy businesses and that is to simply stop patronizing them.
on January 18,2013 | 11:21AM
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