“I’ll have an eleven-inch meatball marinara” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Known for its footlong subs, Subway has fallen victim to an Australian hamming it up on social media. Posting a photo of his sub sandwich alongside a tape measure on Facebook, Matt Corby of Perth, Australia, comically asked Subway to “pls respond” to the fact that the footlong fell an inch short of the advertised 12 inches. The post eventually garnered more than 131,000 likes on Facebook, effectively making this single post into a viral complaint. In fact, in response to the photo, the New York Post actually investigated Subway footlongs and found that 4 of 7 measured between 11 and 11.5 inches.

Coming Up Short: Subway's Social Media Controversy

Was this post enough to make customers quit Subway cold turkey? Probably not. However, it demonstrated the power of social media in maintaining accountability. Corby’s post has forced an official response from Subway when such a complaint probably would have gone unacknowledged previously.

Close calls on social media

This is not the first time that the difference of an inch has garnered significant social media attention. Take, for instance, Apple’s iPad Mini. After stating that they would never make a 7 inch tablet, Apple’s Tim Cook announced a 7.9 inch tablet. The irony did not escape many, especially those on Twitter.

Coming Up Short: Subway's Social Media Controversy

Additionally, who can forget the photo-finish between Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic at the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Out-touching Cavic by 1/100th of a second, Phelps’ 7th gold medal win became an object of significant controversy and the subject of an official inquiry.  In fact, its notoriety continued to be discussed even four years after the fact during the 2012 London Olympics. And, when Michael Phelps was chasing Mark Spitz’s medal record at the Beijing Olympics, the significance of this inch was worth significantly more than its weight in gold.

Coming Up Short: Subway's Social Media Controversy

So, for sandwich eaters, tablet users, and Olympic swimmers, the significance of an inch has not been lost. In fact, especially in the case of Subway, social media has helped raise questions of accountability, right down to the last inch.