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Subway Shows How NOT to Hold a Contest at Your Store

by Ian on May 25, 2008

From Michelle Malkin:

The Subway sandwich corporation is holding a story-writing contest for kids. You can win athletic equipment, gift baskets, or sandwich shop cash cards.

Except if you’re a homeschooled student in the “Untied (sic) States.”

Perhaps they fear the homeschooled students will call attention to all their spelling errors. Looks like the Subway marketing department ought to hire a few homeschoolers to help them out.

More here.

I vote for this essay. Touché.

As a business, there are a few lessons to take away from this bit of inanity on Subway's part.

  1. Don't exclude a group of people from the contest without some kind of common sense rationale. Why exclude home schooled students? Does Subway think they aren't really students? Does Subway think that the parents will write their essays? Does Subway know that they will probably win every prize? Regardless, there isn't any obvious reason to make this exclusion.Here is an example of a valid exclusion. We are sponsoring a Catholic Summer Reading program this summer. Entries in the kids' category are limited to grade school children. If anyone can't understand why adults can't enter reading sheets in the kids category, I'll be happy to fill you in.
  2. If you are going to launch a national campaign, hire somebody to spell check your work. Auto spellcheckers are nice but not perfect.Grand Prize Winner:– Athletic equipment for your child’s school ($5,000 value)
    – Scholastic Gift Bastket (sic) for your home
    – SUBWAY Card ($100 value)
    – See your story published on and in Scholastic Parent and Child magazine.

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of the Untied (sic) States who are currently over the age of 18 and have children who attend elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted. [bold added]
    Talk about a good way to invite ridicule. First you prove that you can't spell (twice!) and then you reject home schools. Reading the paragraph again, it appears that Subway actually considers home schools, not the parents who run them, to be legal residents of the Untied States.

  3. Before you even start a contest, carefully consider the ramifications of doing something really stupid like this. Do you really want a boycott from the millions of home schoolers in this country? Maybe you don't care. In that case, full speed ahead!

You can read the full text of the Subway writing contest here.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

annette May 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Get a grip, people. Parochial schools are included, Private schools are included. Adults 18 years old with kids (they must have given birth at 14 years old) are included. Nothing needs to be purchased.

It is obvious that the $5,000 grand prize of athletic equipment is meant for a school yard, for the benefit of many PreK-6th grade kids. Not for a single family, even if they home school their kids.

Although the challenge might have been better thought out, and spell checked by a person rather than the computer, I applaud Subway’s intention.

Your intention, and Michelle Malkin’s, is to stroke your own egos at the expense of the “common sense rationale” you mention. This shrill media outcry displays the worst of the christian and conservative communities, and is why I no longer publicly affiliate myself with such as you. This is NOT what Jesus would do.


Homeschoolmum May 27, 2008 at 9:44 am

annette — “Get a grip”?

First, I want to point out that assuming all – or even most – homeschoolers are among the Christian right is a bit ignorant. I’ve been homeschooling my kids for over 15 years, and I’m neither Christian nor Republican. I simply don’t see the point in turning my kids over to the state for indoctrination.

This is just a stupid move on Subway’s part. The prizes include more than just the athletic equipment, and the equipment could have been donated by the winning student to the school or recreation center of their choosing.

As a business, Subway really should have thought this through better. Why exclude a large segment such as the 3 million homeschooled kids out there? Why not use a little (tiny, really) creativity to come up with a solution such as, “equipment to be donated to the school or recreation center of your choice”?

It doesn’t take a genius, really, to come up with an option that includes home schooled kids.


Daniel Bowen May 28, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Right – those Homeschoolers can’t use any new “equipment”. It’s not like we need to purchase our own teaching materials as well as pay taxes to purchase them for public school kids too. If you look at the percent of state budgets that goes to public education I think you will find that holding a contest to give them $5000 goes way beyond “common sense rational” anyway.


Ken June 10, 2008 at 11:07 pm

Well, Subway heard the complaint and did something about it!


Stacey May 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm


Yes they did, but still excluded the homeschoolers from the original contest. Making it right would have been holding one ONLY for homeschoolers..since they decided to continue without Homeschool kids at the previous. They just included everyone in the next one. That is FAR from being right.

Three years later and we still do not eat at Subway…and I look for books that are not produced by Scholastic.


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