Economy

When is a chicken fillet not a fillet? Subway’s menu mayhem

Engel Schmidl /

Fast food chain Subway has been forced to change the name of its “Chicken Fillet Sub” to a “Chicken Special” on over 1,300 menu boards around the country after customers complained to the Advertising Standards Bureau.

One customer complaint to the ASB – the advertising industry’s self-regulating body – said calling the sandwich a “fillet” was “100% false advertising”.

“I purchased a chicken fillet subway roll and when I got it home I was disgusted to find after biting it that it is, in fact, a processed chicken piece,” the complaint said.

“My understanding of a chicken fillet is a fillet of chicken not processed chicken meat.”

The “Chicken Fillet Sub” has been offered for sale by the world’s biggest fast food chain throughout Australia for at least 10 years.

The ASB found the name “Chicken Fillet Sub” and advertising was “misleading or deceptive” and breached the Food Code.

“The prevailing community standard on what a fillet of chicken is does not include chicken presented in pieces or formed or processed chicken meat,” the ASB said in its findings.

“Most members of the community would associate chicken fillets with the breast or thigh portion of the chicken in one whole piece or as a cut of chicken rather than reconstituted into a particular shape.”

Subway has ceased all advertising of the $7 Subway Footlong Chicken Fillet including television, outdoor and point of purchase material.

Subway also changed its website description this week and is changing all its menu panels from Chicken Fillet to Chicken Classic.

“We have expedited this to occur as timely as possible. However, as previously noted it takes time to update the menu panels, print 1,300 new menu panels and deliver them to all the locations throughout Australia,” Subway told the ASB.

Subway recently came under fire for misleading the public, after the chain used a “fictional person” called Sarah Wilson to advertise its low-fat sweet chilli chicken.

Coincidentally, Sarah Wilson is also the name of a media personality known for her campaigns for healthy and sugar-free food.

Subway’s website now contains a section entitled “apology” to clear up the Sarah Wilson confusion.

“Subway did not intend to, and did not refer to, the said Ms Sarah Wilson nor convey to the public that Sarah Wilson in any way endorses that product or Subway,” the website states.

“Subway apologises for any confusion or embarrassment caused to Ms Wilson.”

Alina Bain, director of codes policy and regulatory affairs at the Australian Association of National Advertisers, told SmartCompany misleading and deceptive conduct was covered by the AANA’s code.

“It is always a concern if an advertiser is advertising in a way that is not compliant with our code and we have a self-regulating system,” she says.

“This demonstrates that system is working well.”

A spokesperson for Subway said the chain “acknowledged” the decision of the ASB.

“In response, we have decided to change the name of this longstanding product to the ‘Chicken Classic’,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Subway Restaurants are in the process of changing over menu panels in over 1,300 individually owned and operated locations around the country.”

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