Celebrating the best that marketing can do

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is creating 550 new jobs in the UK after a year in which its sales rose 15%. After months of bleak predictions about the state of the British high street, it’s good to see that some brands are flourishing. But what is the recipe for Pret’s success? After all, Pret’s good fortune seems to defy all currently accepted wisdom about which brands perform well in a poor economy.

The brand is not part of a cash-rich multinational that can support it with scale; it’s owned mainly by private equity. It doesn’t spend millions on TV advertising. And it isn’t offering food for budget prices to attract the cash-strapped. But Pret is surviving and thriving because it follows a keep-it-simple philosophy that works. It has small shops with a limited number of food lines. It specialises in products that claim to be “natural food avoiding the obscure chemicals”, a concept that appeals to everybody.

It trains all its staff to create a pleasant, friendly atmosphere, offering regular customers the occasional free drink as a thanks for their custom. Pret also runs an apprenticeship scheme, which includes places for the homeless, as part of an agenda to boost the business and help people get off the streets and start earning.

Pret’s way of doing business means that its name is such an asset… it is creating 550 new jobs in the UK

This way of doing business means that Pret’s name is such an asset that it has recently opened 24 new stores bearing its branding.

Compare this with its rival in the coffee market, Starbucks, which has removed its logo from its distinctive cups in the UK. This comes after it experimented with giving some US stores an unbranded local moniker, such as ‘15th Ave Coffee & Tea’.

Why would any company choose to set aside or conceal its expensively obtained branding? Surely this goes against everything we know about successful marketing. This week we look at the trend for ‘debranding’ and ask why companies would consider such a strategy – can it really work for them?

The theme of strategy also runs through our Marketing Week Engage Awards 2012 Shortlist. Congratulations to each and every shortlisted brand and the agencies that helped them to achieve such success. We had a record amount of entries this year, which is a testament to the great work done by so many organisations in the past 12 months.

As the brand name says, our Engage Awards are all about engagement. We consider whether campaigns or initiatives have been effective in terms of return on investment but also how they have engaged with their audiences. With such a wealth of high-quality entries making our judges work hard to separate out the crème de la crème, everyone shortlisted should be extremely proud.

Engagement is also the theme of the awards night itself on May 22 at the Grosvenor House Hotel. It’s an occasion for everyone to engage with their fellow marketers, clients and agencies, our judges, the Marketing Week team and ultimately to have a rewarding evening celebrating what is best about the industry/ creativity, effectiveness and hard work. So please book your tables at www.marketingweekawards.co.uk and let’s celebrate together.

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