Retro TV CommercialTwo New Jersey men are suing the fast food chain, Subway, over claims that their footlong subs aren’t really a foot long. Various pictures are going viral of a ruler next to the sub to prove – wait – sit down before reading this – they’re not exactly 12″ long – but 11″ long.

Why wasn’t this the lead story on the Today Show ? Why are we focusing on important things like job growth and gun control when Subway is out there selling 11″ subs claiming to be a footlong!

If we’re going to take this path, why stop there? Let’s go to McDonalds and weight their quarter pounders to make sure they really are quarter of a pound. Better yet – lets go buy a bag of potato chips and count the chips to ensure there really are 33% more chips as the bag states.

I mean – what deceptive advertising! Someone should sue. Oh, wait – someone is suing.

Before you go buy that quarter pounder to weight that burger or those bag of chips to count then – hold off on hiring that lawyer so you can sue. Lets review what false advertising must prove first.

According to an FTC policy statement on deception, it says:

First, there must be a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer.4 Practices that have been found misleading or deceptive in specific cases include false oral or written representations, misleading price claims, sales of hazardous or systematically defective products or services without adequate disclosures, failure to disclose information regarding pyramid sales, use of bait and switch techniques, failure to perform promised services, and failure to meet warranty obligations.5

I’m not seeing how Subway misrepresented their food offerings by serving an 11″ sub advertised as “footlong.” According to – footlong is defined as something about a foot long. No one was harmed by receiving an 11” sub while paying for “footlong.” It’s not like someone paid for a footlong sub and never received their sub. It’s not like the advertising was misleading or deceptive – unless you paid more than $5 for your $5 footlong! It didn’t promise something it didn’t deliver. It’s a sub. An 11” one at that.

Is your foot 12″ long?

While I don’t support deceptive or false advertising – I think whatever Subway is guilty of is improperly naming their products, and even then I think it’s a stretch.

What is deceptive or false advertising would be opening a vegan restaurant and serving them a hamburger.

False or deceptive advertising would be like a tobacco company advertising that cigarettes are good for you.

See the difference?

So the only piece of advice I can think of to give you in your business is to really consider your service or product offerings, what they provide, and how it is marketed. Think of all the different ways it could be perceived and how it could potentially benefit you or hurt you or be misconstrued?

Because you never know when someone is going to hold a ruler next to your product or service offering and see if you measure up.