Saturday, January 19, 2013

Does size matter?

I'm sure that by now, you've all heard the reports that  Subway's foot-long sandwiches are .. well...  less than 12 inches long.  Initially, Subway's response was that if you looked at the photo that started the whole brew-ha-ha**, you could tell that the bread was all scrunched up, and that the length of the sandwiches might vary slightly if the particular subway shop didn't bake the bread to the company's exact specifications... or something like that.  Now, Subway has come out as saying that 'foot-long' is  a registered trademark, and is intended as a description, not a statement of size.


I consider myself to be fairly bright..  and I know that advertisers are prone to exaggeration, but I've watched a lot of commercials  (frankly, I find some of today's commercials to be more entertaining than the regular programming)...  and it certainly seemed like Subway wanted me to believe that I was getting 12 inches of sandwich.  And don't they have to have one of those little trademark thingies... or at least really fine print... if they don't really mean what they say?  Because I'm pretty sure they don't.  And if Subway did not intend foot-long to mean 12 inches, why bother trying to persuade me that the bread in the first photo was all scrunched up?  Or that the problem was how the dough was baked?


As it happens, I don't really expect corporate types to be honest with the public, so I would probably let this go... except that this isn't the first time that someone has called Subway's tape measure into question.   Back in 2007, Subway used to have a sandwich size called a Giant Sub, which was advertised as being 3 feet long.  The problem was that several of their Giant Subs regularly came in at 4 inches shorter than 3 feet long. That time, Subway couldn't make the improper baking argument  (also known as the shrinkage theory), because it turned out that the  boxes that the sandwiches came in, were nearly 2 inches shorter than 3 feet.  That time, Subway apologized to the public, and announced that they would be reevaluating their advertising.  Sounds to me like they merely reevaluated their notions about the average length of memory of their average customer.

Perhaps this wouldn't be quite so entertaining, if not for the fact that Subway has sued other companies who have dared to use the word foot long.  Wonder if those other companies sandwiches were really 12 inches?

For the record, I don't think I've ever ordered a Subway foot long sandwich.  I couldn't eat that much on my own, and I never seem to be with someone who wants the same kind of sandwich I do, so we each order our own smaller sandwich.  So it's not that I feel monetarily cheated.  If an opportunity arose where I wanted that size sandwich, would I refrain from buying it because it's not a full 12 inches?  Of course not.But I am annoyed that Subway went to such efforts to persuade me that their sandwich was 12 inches long, and now that they've been caught, they can't even get their story straight.    If you ask me, the appropriate penalty is to take away their trademark, and make them change the name of the sandwich to something like "Big Sandwich".

No, size doesn't matter... but integrity does.

**  For those of you who were surprised at my misspelling of Brew-ha-ha...  please note that I did that on purpose.  After all, this is Teapot Musings, and this whole thing is quite silly.  Time to go brew some tea.

1 comment:

  1. A good post, and you are right about integrity! All the companies are downsizing their products. A half gallon of ice cream is no longer a full half gallon; a pound of coffee is no longer a pound. The packaging doesn't really change, but the contents do. Of course, on those types of products, you can read the ounces on the package, so they are covered - unlike Subway and the missing inches. It all goes back to "let the buyer beware". We can no longer take for granted that a company is being honest with their customers/consumers. The burden falls to us. Ethics, trust, they even teach that in business classes anymore? Sad.