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The Power of Social Influence: Subway & Foodbabe

In the era of social media, food companies are facing a whole new level of customer influence. The millennial generation, and other tech savvy folks are using social platforms to take back control over the food they are eating. Their words carry breadth, and national corporations are forced not just to listen, but to act. We saw the powerful influence of the people recently with the Subway azodicarbonamide controversy. Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 4.35.16 PM

If you haven’t heard about azodicarbonamide, it is an ingredient found in Subway bread (but also a boatload of other bread and baked goods, you can see the list here) that is also used to make yoga mats and the bottoms of your sneakers. The reason we know companies are making yoga mat bread is largely do to prominent food blogger is a blog dedicated to whistle blowing the food industry. She runs a different type of food blog than you normally see. She isn’t lecturing about diet and calling out things like “gluten” and “sugar” as the bad guys. She’s calling out huge, national brands as the bad guys and she has a pretty big soapbox to do it. Foodbabe currently has 386k followers on Facebook, 50k followers on twitter, and 19k subscribers on Youtube. When Foodbabe says something, people listen.

She recently launched her petition to stop Subway from putting azodicarbonamide in their bread. The campaign went viral practically overnight, and her petition got 95,114 signatures! Why? Because she has an incredible amount of influence. She might not be Huffington Post, or NPR but she sure got their attention, as soon as her hashtag #NoWaySubway starting trending, mass media outlets starting picking up her story. The result: Subway is now forced to remove this ingredient from their food.

In an era where your dirty laundry is hung out for the entire Internet to see, food companies need to start preparing themselves for this new era of transparency and consumer watchdogs. The public demands influence, and they will have it.


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