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Pret a Manger Subjects Eat’s Menu to a Trial by Social Media

The Hunger Games: inoffensive lunchtime food edition

Eat’s chicken pot pie, houmous and falafel mezze, and firecracker chicken flatbread are facing off for a place on Pret’s menu Pret a Manger/Instagram

Maroon lunchtime behemoth Pret a Manger acquired yellow lunchtime behemoth Eat in May 2019, and now it’s sealing the deal with a trial by social media. It planned to convert restaurants into green and maroon lunchtime upstart Veggie Pret, but rowed back in August 2019 by putting 13 London Eat restaurants on the market, and will now “rescue” three items from the Eat menu by putting them to a poll on its Instagram page.

The chicken pot pie, humous & falafel mezze, and firecracker chicken flatbread are the three dishes selected for this middle-of-the-road Hunger Games sequel, with the second making the early running. The trio were selected by a poll not on Pret a Manger’s Instagram, but Eat’s, back in the summer, adding a layer of sacrificial brand synergy to proceedings, compounded by the accompanying hashtag of #saveyourfave. As a comparative note: Eat has little under 7,000 Instagram followers; Pret, 143,000.

That scale — the calling card of a chain that has over 230 locations in London, and can cause an apparently national disaster by pulling a ham sandwich, only to reintroduce it after 11 days — is indicative of the way in which Pret a Manger has wormed its way into the capital’s lunchtime psyche. Subjecting what is surely an already costed, calculated, and plotted integration of a business acquisition to an Instagram show trial is yet another instantiation of that benevolent infiltration: vote for the favourite, then come spend money on it.

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