The Subway restaurant chain likes to tell its customers to “eat fresh”. But in 2004 Subway had to eat something different: a controversial cross-promotional campaign launched by its’ German franchises.
Cross-promotions occur when two organisations agree to promote each other’s products or goals. In the Subway case, the restaurant chain’s 100 German franchises contacted the company handling German distribution of Super Size Me, a documentary harshly critical of McDonald’s Subway international rival. To encourage diners to see the film, Subway agreed to use promotional tray liners - ones that featured a chubby Statue of Liberty holding, not a torch and book, but a burger and fries. The liners included the question “Why are Americans so fat?”
“The people in Germany do understand what we want to say and that we do no want to offend anybody,” said a representative of the German company that created the liners.
But as Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan famously declared, we live in a global village: Unfortunately, a few of Subway’s cross promotional tray liners went cross-country, crossing the Atlantic to the United States, where they made people – well, cross.
“They should feel bad about fanning the flames of anti-Americanism in order to sell more sandwiches,” said Jeffery Mazzella, executive director of the U.S-based Center for Individual Freedom. The center launched an email campaign, asking supporters to make their feelings known to Subway executive.
This is every bad stereotype about corporate America cone true,” railed Tom DeLay, majority leader of the U.S House of Representatives. “I guess for some companies, corporate patriotism is as flexible as Jared’s waistline.” (Jared Fogle, well know from Subway television commercial, lost 250 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches.)
Not all U.S observers trashed Subway. “This is a gross example of American overreaction,” said Alan Hilburg, president of Porter Novelli Consulting.
But just like...
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