A PR crisis born on social media in Australia is now in the U.S. court system.
This week, lawsuits were filed in Chicago and New Jersey, seeking damages against Subway’s parent company “in excess of $5 million,” claiming the franchise served sandwiches that were missing at least an inch of bread, according to the Chicago Tribune
Subway responded on Thursday with the following statement:
“We have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve. Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide."
Subway declined to specifically comment on the lawsuits, which name its parent company, Doctor’s Associates Inc.
The spark that started this PR firestorm occurred on social media last week when an Australian man posted to Subway’s Facebook page
a picture of his “footlong” sandwich alongside a tape measure. The photo revealed that the sandwich was a mere 11 inches.
The post caused an uproar, inspiring dozens of other people to take similar actions and share them on Facebook. The pictures all showed a missing inch. After a day of bouncing around social media and blogs, Brian Williams covered the story on the “NBC Nightly News.”
Subway waited roughly a day to respond. When it did, the response seemed to make matters worse. Subway Australia
claimed on Facebook that “footlong” is “a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway restaurants and is not intended to be a measurement of length.”
That post was removed from the Subway Australia page, only after it blew up on Reddit.
Nguyen Buren, the plaintiff in Chicago who filed the lawsuit against Subway’s parent company, claimed his 11-inch sandwich represents a “pattern of fraudulent, deceptive, and otherwise improper advertising, sales, and marketing practices,” reports the Chicago Tribune
Buren’s attorney compared the shortened sandwich to buying a dozen eggs and receiving only 11.