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Subway 'crisis': Is footlong sub really 11 inches?

By Mae Anderson

Associated Press


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 37,000 locations, is facing criticism after an Australian man posted a picture on the company's Facebook page of one of its famous footlong sandwiches next to a tape measure that seems to show it's just 11 inches.

More than 100,000 people have "liked" or commented on the photo, which has the caption "Subway pls respond." Lookalike pictures have popped up elsewhere on Facebook. And The New York Post conducted an investigation that found four out of seven footlong sandwiches were shy of the 12 inches that makes a foot.

By Thursday afternoon, the picture was no longer visible on Subway's Facebook page, which has 19.8 million fans. A spokesman for Subway, which is based in Milford, Conn., did not comment on the photo but said the length of its sandwiches can 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," Subway said in an e-mailed statement.

The photograph — and the backlash — illustrates a challenge companies face with the growth of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Before, someone in 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 from small towns to locations 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.

The Subway footlong scandal is just the latest in a string of such social media public relations headaches for big companies.

Last year, a Burger King employee posted a Twitter message or "tweet" 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. And a KitchenAid employee in 2012 made a disparaging remark about President Obama using the official KitchenAid Twitter account.

The key to mitigating damage when a social media furor arises is speed and directness, said Adamson, the branding expert.

"In today's market you have to be able to roll with the punches and be much more fluid, responsive and responsible than before," he said.

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awahana wrote:
I have not frequented subway for almost 2 years.
When national ads started their $5 footlong jingle, and Hawaii franchisees refused to play, and was trying to charge regular prices, and then got mandated by corporate to play along. Now they slowly raising prices to $6 and more. Or just not offering the same monthly special as national does. WTH?
This is a problem rampant in HI. $.89 Taco Bell Taco is $1.19. Same at McD, BK, Wendys, Jack box, etc. The only one that seem to be straight was Carl's Jr., and they're almost gone here. I miss their burgers. Also, wassup with the poor service at many of the Korean owned Subway franchises in town?! If they don't like it, why did they sign up to own one? Or they just so cheap, they are going to treat customers like crap when you ask for extra lettuce, or napkins?
on January 17,2013 | 11:19AM
LadyNinja wrote:
Ditto for Pizza Hut, if you call for the on television ads, they say that they don't participate and therefore, we need to pay the regular price, which is why I have stopped going to Pizza Hut, rip off.
on January 17,2013 | 04:06PM
Ulalei wrote:
size doesn't matter
on January 17,2013 | 11:33AM
IAmSane wrote:
We're still talking about sandwiches, ya?
on January 17,2013 | 02:10PM
Naloboy wrote:
So what? We all know that 50 is the new 60 and 40 is the new 50. Now 11 inches is the new foot. Just think of the possibilities!
on January 17,2013 | 11:37AM
loquaciousone wrote:
My foot isn't foot long either.
on January 17,2013 | 11:42AM
honopic wrote:
The difference in size may be manini, but the problem is not. The response by Subway is typical corporate double-speak. Instead of admitting the deception, they blame the workers, claiming they do't bake the bread to "exact specifications." It wouldn't bother me a bit if they'd just come out and say, "Sometimes the sandwiches aren't exaclty 12-inches long" or posted that disclaimer in their stores. But to point the finger at the poor workers who have to make those sandwiches every day and are paid less than $8 an hour is cold-hearted and deceptive. According to one source, the corporation made $926.million 2 years ago. That's a lot of bread, whether 11 or 12 inches at a time!
on January 17,2013 | 12:46PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I hope there is no trend to precision. I been, uh, exaggerating to the ladies for some time now.
on January 17,2013 | 03:35PM
WKAMA wrote:
Maybe the guy who named the footlong sandwich wasn't a foot in inches but the length of his foot. LOL.
on January 17,2013 | 02:39PM
ehowzit wrote:
on January 17,2013 | 03:59PM
HD36 wrote:
Inflation is here: You either pay more or pay the same price but get less. And Beaurocrats still think they can print money out of thin air with no consequences.
on January 17,2013 | 04:41PM
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