In 2006, Quiznos jumped on the user generated content bandwagon as part of a campaign depicting Subway sandwiches as being inferior and with less meat. The company asked consumers to make their own videos showing Quiznos as being better than Subway. The winner received $10,000 and their video was shown on VH1 and in Times Square.
Now, Subway is suing Quiznos and iFilm (where videos were posted), claiming the consumer videos showed its brand in a negative way and made false statements. Such lawsuits in the ad world are nothing new but the user generated content angle adds an interesting twist. Can Quiznos be held liable for content made by consumers? The content was of course produced at Quiznos' request but the statements were made by consumers.
The outcome could have ramifications on other companies asking for consumer input, according to The New York Times.
The Subway/Quiznos case hinges on how the District Court of Connecticut interprets two federal laws: the Lanham Act, which dates to the 1940s and centers on trademark rights, and the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996 to safeguard the Internet. If Subway wins, advertisers and media companies may find themselves liable for false advertising claims made by consumers who participate in their contests.
The site where these videos originally appeared has been removed but some are still floating around on YouTube.