If You Say It, Mean It — Pret a Manger Clearly Doesn’t

If You Say It, Mean It -- Pret a Manger Clearly Doesn'tPromising and failing to deliver is much worse than never making the promise. That’s what the Red Cross is finding according to business researcher Scott Deming. Unfortunately, I see this pattern rearing its ugly head all too often, and it’s absolutely antithetical to the authenticity that is so critical to building strong relationships with your target audiences.

Here’s an example of gross inauthenticity I picked up on during a recent lunch at Pret a Manger(“ready to eat” ala pret a porter). This well-designed, British-born grab-a-quick lunch chain strives to brand itself with its healthy and homemade food and its caring for its customers:

We don’t like big food factory/depot/processing places. We make our stuff fresh so we can sell it fresh (it’s old fashioned but works well). We’d rather offer our sandwiches to charity than keep them over to sell the next day. We simply don’t need to sell old food.

Now, Pret seems to be taking its customer focus/healthy food one step further with the distribution of a Pret story book at the cash registers and on the tables. Good Stuff reviews Pret’s brand promise by outlining its food buying and preparation strategy in pages peppered with Chinese proverbs. Then co-founder Julian Metcalfe asks Pret customers for their help on a couple of things — alerting him to outstanding employees, new food ideas, and general complaints.

But get this: Julian reminds customers about his passion for feedback-based improvement and urges customers to get in touch. But…..there’s an general office address but no quick and easy contact info — email OR phone — in the booklet. Realistically, folks are just far less likely to send a letter than to pick up the phone or send an email. And since Pret is all about the quick and easy…

If you say it, mean it. Otherwise, you risk losing audience trust and interest as their bad experience becomes your organization’s real brand.

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Nancy Schwartz on August 15, 2007 in Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications | 4 comments

  • twopence

    Interesting comment, but just for the record, Pret’s little booklet does indeed give their address.

  • Rachel

    Does anyone else find it offensive that pret says “We’d rather offer our sandwiches to charity than keep them over to sell the next day.”?
    What’s implied is that recipients of charity aren’t entitled to the same quality as those who pay for the privilege — in this case — of eating.

  • Nancy E. Schwartz

    Rachel, good point. I’ll give Pret the benefit of the doubt and assume they should have wordsmithed more effectively to emphasize that they want to give fresh sandwiches to charity.
    But good point. Get an outside proofreader who doesn’t share your org’s perspective. It’s a must.

  • Gee, Nancy, seems to me there’s a bit of an exageration here. Do you really believe that leaving out a reply device on a rack card warrants a charge of what you call “gross inauthenticity”?
    As an independent marketing communications writer, I’m frequently called upon to create this type of marketing collateral. I’m often utterly amazed when the creative briefs I receive leave out elements that a keen copywriter (not a proofreader, as you suggested) would identify immediately. More often than not, when I bring these omissions to the attention of my marketing clients, they’re more than happy to add the necessary components. It’s very often a simple matter of the client being too darn close to a project to see what’s missing – and might I say, that’s a good reason for hiring the “outside eye” of a freelancer!
    Without additional examples of “gross inauthenticity” by Pret a Porter, I would imagine that in this instance the marketing group made a mistake. Lesson learned? Make sure you’re using a professional to prepare your marketing collateral, please.
    Judith Reppucci, Copywriter

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