Good, Unnatural Food

19 April 2018 | Aaron Wise

Coffee and sandwich shops have been making the rounds this week in the media, but for a very mixed bag of reasons, good and bad.

Costa Coffee has pledged to recycle as many disposable cups as it sells by 2020, and has introduced 'chatter and natter' tables in 25 pilot stores to help try and combat loneliness.

Two black men who were just sat waiting for a business meeting at a US Starbucks were arrested, which led to the coffee giant announcing it will close its 8,000 US stores for one afternoon in May to teach employees about racial bias.

Then there’s Asda, which charged a Nottingham woman £930 for a banana instead of 11p.

But, despite the triumphant PR of Costa Coffee, it’s the not so glamorous PR I’m going to look at this week and it’s Pret A Manger, I believe, which has made the biggest PR blunder.

You can chuckle at Asda’s slip up, while the Starbucks incident can be traced back to a single employee who took it upon herself to phone the police, but Pret A Manger’s cock-up is entirely down to poor PR.

Two adverts were recently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after food and farming charity, Sustain, complained that the sandwich shop’s website and Facebook page made claims that its produce was natural and without ‘obscure chemicals’.

The ‘Good, Natural Food’ adverts boasted about Pret’s produce being free from the artificial additives found in ‘fast food’ alternatives.

But Sustain’s complaint led to Pret A Manger revealing the bread it uses to make its sandwiches actually contained three E-numbers… not so natural then?

Pret’s defence was the artificial additives were used to strengthen the dough, reduce the number of large holes in the bread and soften the crumb. Not the point!

As a respected and healthy sandwich chain with almost 500 stores in nine countries, you would assume Pret’s powerful influence would see it ‘play by the rules’. But misleading customers by saying ALL its produce is natural will surely damage its reputation now.

I don’t know who runs Pret’s website or Facebook page, or who the creative thinkers were behind these adverts, but it’s as simple as this; can’t prove it? Don’t say it.

So the moral of this story is… In this digital age where almost everyone has an online presence, if you lie to promote your business or brand, you will get caught out eventually!