Subway’s ‘Footlong’ Falls Short Of A Foot

Here’s the picture that started it all:

Matt Corby Subway 11 inch footlong
Photo: Matt Corby via Facebook

Teenager Matt Corby posted the photo to Subway Australia’s Facebook page earlier this month, with the caption: “subway pls respond.” The outraged customer wanted to know why his sandwich was not 12 inches long, as advertised.

The photo went viral and gathered 117,000 likes, 2,700 shares, and 5,100 comments.

How did Subway Australia respond? See for yourself:

BuzzFeed’s Copyranter calls it an ‘amazingly stupid response’ that’s begging for legal action. That ‘Subway Footlong’ is merely a descriptive name and not a measurement of length is a ridiculous notion, especially when keeping in mind these images from a Subway US commercial from 2008 that clearly state the size of a footlong:

The controversial post has since been taken down from Subway Australia’s Facebook page.

Coca Cola Tackles Obesity In Latest CSR Campaign

The Coca-Cola Company, the largest beverage company in the world, aired a two-minute spot on U.S. cable news networks on Monday. In a surprising move for the soft drink giant, the subject of the ad was America’s obesity debate.

The commercial aired during prime-time on the highest-rated shows on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC “in hopes of flexing its marketing muscle in the debate over sodas and their impact on public health,” the Associated Press reported. The ad’s ‘Coming Together’ theme ties into the company’s ‘Live Positively’ and ‘Open Happiness’ campaigns.

The ad weighs in on the public health debate that blames the rising obesity rates on the empty calories found in sugary, sweetened soft drinks and juices, and touts the company’s commitment to reducing obesity by offering diet alternatives and smaller portion sizes. After highlighting the firm’s record of making low-calorie drinks, the ad reminds viewers, ”…all calories count. No matter where they come from, including Coca-Cola.”

The ad promotes a website address at the end for more information (coca-cola.com/cometogether).

According to AP:
“Another ad, which will run later this week during American Idol and before the Super Bowl, is much more reminiscent of the catchy, upbeat advertising people have come to expect from Coca-Cola. It features a montage of activities that add up to burning off the ’140 happy calories’ in a can of Coke: walking a dog, dancing, sharing a laugh with friends and doing a victory dance after bowling a strike. The 30-second ad, a version of which ran in Brazil last month, is intended to address confusion about the number of calories in soda, said Diana Garza Ciarlante, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Co. She said the company’s consumer research showed people mistakenly thought there were as many as 900 calories in a can of soda.”

Why the Sudden Defense?

The beverage industry is facing a storm of criticism for what authorities believe is their role in the worldwide obesity epidemic.

In March, New York City is preparing to ban sugary drinks over 16 ounces in restaurants, cinemas and stadiums, in an initiative spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

France also imposed a fat tax on sugary, sweetened drinks last year.

The American beverage industry is combating these efforts with an ad campaign and website (NYCBeverageChoices.com) that urge consumers, ”Don’t let bureaucrats tell you what beverage to buy.”

Coca-Cola has stated that the video was not made in response to criticism of the soft drink industry, but is solely an effort to raise awareness against obesity.

Our Opinion

I’m confused: On one hand, Coke is promoting its smaller cans and diet options. On the other, it’s fighting for the right to sell fizzy drinks in giant, upsized packaging.

I’m also in two minds about my ethical standpoint on this issue. It can be seen as a matter of personal preference. Yes, the Coca-Cola company is offering consumers healthier options, but at the same time why should anyone stop consumers from purchasing giant sized, calorie-laden drinks? Shouldn’t it be the consumer’s decision how unhealthy they wish to be?

But obesity is a real problem with real-world consequences. And sugary drinks are part of the problem. Its incongruous for Coke to present itself as part of the solution while fighting for its right to be part of the problem!

Are you with or against Coke on this one?

Branding Scandals: Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods

In the cutthroat world of competitive advertising and brand endorsement, companies fall over themselves to sponsor celebrities to endorse their products and become their brand ambassadors.

The saying ‘What’s in a name?’ does not apply when the names are David Beckham, Lady Gaga, Madonna or Ashwariya Rai. Even deceased stars like Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and of course Elvis Presley still have immense star power posthumously and people still identify themselves with them.

For brands, the need to latch on to a big name becomes greater in proportion to the celebrity’s fame.

However, there is also a negative side to this whole scenario. What happens when an iconic star becomes embroiled in a scandal of any nature whether it is about sex, money, marital infidelity or drugs?

Does this diminish the star value as far as brand products are concerned and do companies scramble to withdraw their sponsorships, or it does not matter at all?

In a nutshell, yes it does matter. However, the impact of scandal is reduced by the larger than life of image of the celebrity in question.

Some recent incidents include the cases of two iconic stars of the sporting world, golfer Tiger Woods who was involved in cases of marital infidelity and cyclist Lance Armstrong, the 7-time winner of the Tour-de-France who has now been stripped of his titles on charges of doping.

Tiger Woods is probably the best known golfer in the history of the sport, having won 14 major professional championships in his career as well as being awarded PGA player of the year 10 times.

Woods has been called the world’s most marketable athlete and he has signed endorsement deals with numerous companies, includingGeneral Motors, Titlist, General Mills, American Express, Accenture, and Nike, Inc. In 2000, he signed a 5-year, $105 million contract extension with Nike described as the largest endorsing deal ever signed by an athlete at that time.

Sales of Nike Golf had skyrocketed and Woods’ endorsement has been credited with playing a significant role in taking the Nike Golf brand from a ‘start-up’ golf company earlier in the past decade, to becoming the leading golf apparel company in the world, and a major player in the equipment and golf ball market. Nike Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport, with an estimated $600 million in sales.

The scandal, however, created a huge setback for nine of Woods’ sponsors who suffered a loss of almost $12 billion in the stock market.

It seems that Nike, despite its losses, had faith in Woods’ ability to regain his iconic stature and stuck by him through thick and thin. This proved to be a prudent decision. Collective memory is short and such scandals soon disappear into the dustbin of history.

Lance Armstrong, the super cyclist who has staved off cancer, is another unfortunate person caught in the lime light. He has been accused of doping charges and stripped of his 7 Tour-de-France titles.

In Armstrong’s case as well Nike is standing by him and has decided not to withdraw its sponsorship, while others are pursuing a wait-and-see policy. The scandal will surely have quite a negative effect on Armstrong’s endorsement career.

They say that in life we have to pay for our mistakes, but in cases like that of Woods and Armstrong brands literally end up paying for their misdeeds.

KitchenAid Apologizes For Rude Tweet About Obama’s Grandmother

Whirpool’s home appliance brand KitchenAid is apologizing profusely for an offensive tweet sent from the company’s Twitter account on Wednesday, during the US presedential debate.

Shortly after President Barack Obama mentioned his late grandmother, the following mocking tweet appeared on the@KitchenAidUSA Twitter feed:

“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics” 

The tweet was in reference to a comment Obama made during the debate as he spoke about the importance of programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

“You know, my grandmother – some of you know – helped to raise me,” Obama said. “My grandfather died a while back. My grandmother died three days before I was elected president. And she was fiercely independent. She worked her way up, only had a high school education, started as a secretary, ended up being the vice president of a local bank. And she ended up living alone by choice.”

“And the reason she could be independent was because of Social Security and Medicare,” he continued.

The original post was quickly deleted, but not before a swift and fierce backlash against the brand. At the time, @KitchenAidUSA had about 24,000 followers, according to PRDaily.

KitchenAid immedietely went into damage control mode and issued this apology on Twitter:

“Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion. #nbcpolitics” 

Shortly thereafter, KitchenAid’s senior director of marketing Cynthia Soledad began tweeting from the account, saying:

“I would like to personally apologize to President @BarackObama, his family and everyone on Twitter for the offensive tweet sent earlier.” 

“It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won’t be tweeting for us anymore.” 

“That said, I take full responsibility for my team. Thank you for hearing me out.” 

She then tweeted directly at several media outlets, including Mashable and Adweek, insisting she’d like to talk on the record about what happened.

Soledad said in a statement to CNN: “During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore.”

Women Removed From IKEA’s Saudi Catalog

Swedish furniture retailer IKEA removed images of women from its catalog in Saudi Arabia, prompting an apology from the IKEA Group as well as criticism from the trade minister.

On Monday, Swedish newspaper Metro published images from the Saudi catalog, pointing out that IKEA had photoshopped women out of identical pictures showcasing its furniture.

“As a producer of the catalog, we regret the current situation,” stated the IKEA Group, which produces the magazine for its franchises. “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalog is in conflict with the Ikea Group values.”

These decisions were most likely made to appease Saudi laws, which prohibit woman from showing too much of their body in public.

The trade minister in Sweden, Ewa Bjorling, did not directly criticize IKEA but instead focused on Saudi policies towards women.

“You can’t airbrush women from reality,” she told Metro. “These images are yet another lamentable example of how much remains to be done concerning gender equality in Saudi Arabia.”

Women in Saudi Arabia have limited rights compared to men. Laws forbidding women from voting or driving cars are two of the more prominent examples, although King Abdullah last year promised reforms that should give women the vote as of 2015.

Kellogg’s Tweet Shop: Tweets Are Currency

Last week, Kellogg’s opened a pop up ‘Tweet Shop’ in London to promote the launch of its new Special K Cracker Crisps.

The promotion lasted for a week and created waves in the world of marketing and social media.

Venturing into savoury snacks is a first for the brand, but that’s not all. What set this shop apart was that it didn’t actually sell the cracker crisps for money; it offered ‘free’ samples in exchange for tweets about the product.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
So all you have to do is walk into the shop, choose from three sample tweets from the menu on the wall or create your own adding the hashtag #tweetshop, and post it online to all your followers. In exchange, you get a box of Special K Cracker Crisps.

One of the sample tweets reads: “Special K has gone savoury. 3 flavors to try–salt and balsamic vinegar, sweet chili, sour cream and chives #tweetshop #spons”

Photo credit: Coraline Despeyroux/beingcoraline.com/@corakorka

In the words of Kellogg’s Sarah Case, “The value of positive endorsements on social media sites is beyond compare so we’re excited to be the first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch this new product in our bespoke Special K shop… This is big news for Special K and we are hoping the brand’s move into crisps and the high street will create a major buzz on and offline.”

OUR OPINION
In a world where Kim Kardashian can make $10,000 for one tweet, this kind of marketing move seems like the next logical step.

It’s a solid idea and I can see the concept being used by hundreds of brands. In fact, even if tweeting wasn’t required for ‘purchasing’ products, I’m certain this kind of a pop up store would generate a lot of social media buzz regardless.

Kudos to UK events agency Slice for coming up with the idea for the shop and carrying it out effectively.

In other news, seeing as how I couldn’t make it all the way to London I did actually get in touch with Kellogg’s with my irresistible offer of tweets in exchange for free stuff. Still waiting for a response…

PR Fail: PML-N, PTI And SKMH

The recent round of political battle between PML-N and PTI ignited a controversy with questions regarding the mismanagement of funds by the Board of Trustees of Shuakat Khanum Memorial Hospital raised by Mr. Khawaja Asif, PML-N’s whistle-blower in this case.

While everyone was having a go at this issue on twitter, I sent out this tweet: “Dear PMLN, Thank you! Because of you all our donors have suddenly woken up. Sincerely, SKMH Pakistan”

Looking at the response to my tweet, and just giving the whole debacle an afterthought, I realized, PML-N has actually committed a few cardinal PR sins – which ended up in them becoming the bad guys in the public eye. These public relations mistakes are:

1. Think through about the implication of your words

Mr. Khawaja Asif, you were touching a charity that has over the years helped sick people. The REAL people of Pakistan. With your “Shaukat Khanum funds are used for PTI political purposes” story, what you ended up doing is waking up all those people, and suddenly a counter guerrilla campaign started all around us, where just to tell you Mr. Asif (and PML-N) off – people started sending donations out to the cancer hospital … err … not the smartest PR move I have seen in recent times!!

Read more:

Bina Shah’s blog: Hands off the SKMH
Comic Expression by Arsalan

2. Bad homework is worse than no homework

PML-N obviously did some homework to check the endowment management process followed by Shaukat Khanum, but obviously not enough. From the moment the allegations have been made, we have had even students explaining how erroneous their allegations really are. With the advent of social media, experts are a ‘like’ button away – and no it’s not ok to mislead the people with half-truths or lies.

Read more:

Khwaja Asif vs Imran: investor speaks and answers key questions
The fallacy of the PML-N’s allegations

Lets donate more to SKMH, say the people of Pakistan!

3. Are you making news for yourself or the competition?

Smart PR people never deliberately provide others with fresh platforms and story angles. PML-N did just that. Not only did Imran Khan and PTI suddenly have an opportunity for fresh air time on all leading media across Pakistan – Shaukat Khanum too suddenly had a PR edge over all other charities. Plus all other political parties jumped in with their “How could they question the integrity of Shuakat Khunum?”

Why give competitors and others a pulpit of your making?

Read more:

Shaukat Khanum COO on Capital Talk, GEO
CEO Shaukat Khanum’s responses to PML-N
Imran Khan’s press conference
Does Islam allow Zakaat to be invested?

4. Line up brand ambassadors internally and externally

If Khawja Asif actually intended to start a firestorm of such proportions, he should have first lined up third-party ambassadors. Sure, some PTI haters and other PML-N politicians rallied to question the books of Shaukat Khanum too, but that was after the damage had been done.

What has happened as an outcome is PML-N has ended up being the real villain. Not only are the people questioning their ‘good’ deeds as a political party in power, there is a whole bunch of angry Pakistanis who are just plain unhappy with their gall to question Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital.

Epic PR Fail!

Disclaimer: I am neither a supporter of PTI nor a fan of Imran Khan personally. The views expressed above and shared here are simply from a point of view of a Public Relations professional.

First published on Samra Muslim’s blog on 5 August, 2012. Click here to view the original post.

About the author: Professionally, Samra Muslim has over 10 years of experience of working in Pakistan in the fields of marketing, communications, public relations, social media, event management and brand activation. She is constantly on the hunt for more knowledge and describes herself in the following words: optimist, moody, cynic, travel to live, movie junkie, and foodie. Samra is all over the place and has opinions about everything!

Maybe That’s Why Google Ads Work

Last Thursday, Google ran an ad for its search advertising service AdWords in the print edition of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper.

The ad, shown below, also ran in the The National Post, a competing Canadian daily.

“You know who needs a haircut? People searching for a haircut,” the ad reads. “Maybe that’s why ads on Google work.”

The ad was tweeted by media reporter Steve Ladurantaye with the caption, “An ad for Google ads in today’s Globe demonstrates the value of print ads, yes?”

Our Opinion
Of course, it’s ironic that Google’s using a newspaper ad to show that traditional advertising doesn’t work, and it’s made even funnier by the fact that they took out a full page ad to make their point.

Perhaps Google saying that traditional advertising is necessary to steer people towards online advertising? Or maybe they’re trying to convert the last of the non-online population.

It’s a clever ad and definitely one that makes a witty point. We’ll have to wait and see if if Google reveals any facts and figures on how this affects AdWords activity to judge if it really worked or not, but for now this is one to remember.

Dakota Fanning For Marc Jacobs: Too Provocative?

Are you offended by this ad? Many people are.

After receiving 4 complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned this magazine campaign in the UK.

The advertisement is for the Marc Jacobs fragrance ‘Oh, Lola!’ and the model is 17-year old US actor, Dakota Fanning.

Here’s the official statement from the ASA:

“We noted that the model was holding up the perfume bottle which rested in her lap between her legs and we considered that its position was sexually provocative. We understood the model was 17 years old but we considered she looked under the age of 16. We considered that the length of her dress, her leg and position of the perfume bottle drew attention to her sexuality. Because of that, along with her appearance, we considered the ad could be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.”

The perfume maker and distributer of this fragrance, Coty UK, disputed the ASA’s ruling, saying they had yet to receive any complaints about the ad in question. They also said the perfume bottle placed in between Fanning’s legs was “provoking, but not indecent.”

Of course, any publicity is good publicity and the one foolproof way of ensuring people see your ad is, ironically, to make sure nobody sees it. More often than not, banning anything leads to instant widespread coverage.

So what do you think? Offensive or just attention-seeking behaviour?