Pret, the massive British sandwich chain, which last week was reported to have been sold for £1.5 billion, recently launched a new campaign. It’s called “Eat Like a Bear” and is being advertised using an artist’s impression of a bear’s face — fashioned from a chestnut mushroom with a cracked almond for nose and mouth — ‘eating’ a stalk of coriander.
“Our Chefs have been working on a new spring menu of veggie, vegan and meaty options. Eat like a bear. Go forage,” it says online and on posters plastered across its estate. To analyse this messaging is of course to realise that Pret is actually encouraging people to eat as they please. Or, to eat as humans tend to.
Food and recipe writer Ed Smith took to Twitter to ask the brand what they meant by the slogan. He said he was very confused. Pret responded by saying: “With our ‘Eat Like A Bear’ campaign, we aim to inspire our customers to adopt a flexitarian diet by foraging our broad range of meaty, veggie, and vegan food.”
With our 'Eat Like A Bear' campaign, we aim to inspire our customers to adopt a flexitarian diet by foraging our broad range of meaty, veggie, and vegan food.— Pret (@Pret) June 4, 2018
The peculiar choice of phrasing was picked up by Eater contributor, George Reynolds, who asked which of “adopt,” “flexitarian” or “foraging” was being used most weirdly.
Of course Pret is not the only chain to have used the word “flexitarianism” in its official marketing. Byron recently launched what it called a “flexitarian” burger, which, after not even a close inspection, was revealed to be a beef patty fortified with mushrooms.
The use of such language is presumably happening as brands wish to have their cake and eat it, capitalising on a new vegetarian and vegan market, without alienating a core consumer who still wishes to eat a jambon beurre baguette, a crayfish salad, or a miso soup. Or, even more cynically in Byron’s case, re-packaging a beef burger whose only innovation is that it contains less beef.