Saturday, January 19, 2013

Subway Foot-Long PR Nightmare

Once you make a claim – make sure you can stick to it. That’s the hard lesson that fast food chain Subway is learning. (Shame on its legal team!). Subway sells a sandwich called the “foot-long sub”. Needless to say it is suppose to be a food long.
As always, an overzealous customer popped up who ordered the sandwich and measured it. (Yes, we are talking about a male customer – pun intended).
Mr. Matt Corby of Perth (Australia) measured his food-long sub and found it to be 11 inches long. Needless to say, in this social media age he vented his outrage on Facebook, where he also posted a photo of his sub alongside the tape measure on the company's page with the caption: “Subway, please respond."

The page received more than 131,000 likes and thousands of comments, ranging from "I think they [Subway] owe us some," to "there are way more thing in life to worry about then 1 inch of sub."

The New York Post launched its own “investigation” and found that most New York Subways serve foot-long subs that are less than a foot. According to the NYP, four out of seven "five-dollar foot-longs" purchased at Subways in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, measured 11 or 11.5 inches.

Subway attributes the discrepancy in length to the fact that the bread is baked fresh daily in each of their 38,000 restaurants, which makes sense in my humble opinion. The chain went on to state that they are looking into the matter.

The company stated: "We are committed to providing a consistent product delivering the same amount of bread to the customer with every order. The length however may vary slightly when not baked to our 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."

The story made the rounds and was picked up by major news outlets such as Fox.

How can Subway overcome this PR nightmare?
  1. Check the reasons why one foot is not one foot, and post it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  2. Issue a press release explaining the discrepancy and thanking Mr. Corby for his due diligence.
  3. Make Mr. Crosby a Subway ambassador and award him perks.
  4. Encourage customers to help improving products and service.
  5. Last but most least: use humor! A funny video or picture will be a healthy antidote!

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