Pret a Manger has recently embarked on a new loyalty scheme, which does not resemble the traditional methods of encouraging customers to come back and collect points while shopping with a shop/chain store. This limited, yet very effective campaign has made me think about what we covered in Brand Communications class a couple of weeks ago – the role of emotions in Public Relations and how brands could utilise them to reach their audiences.
For the past couple of days, selected Pret customers have been given a special ‘Make Someone Smile’ sleeve alongside their drink and are being constantly encouraged to pass the sleev on further to other people, be it friends, family or strangers. Whoever visits the restaurant and presents this sleeve can redeem it for a free coffee or tea before the end of February (PRWeek). This small campaign links strongly to brand’s bigger, overarching campaign ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ which is still ongoing.
Since I have moved to London, I have been a frequent customer of the chain, and have always seen it in a positive light. I like their work ethics, I like the way they present themselves, and I like the food and drinks they serve. But ever since I have received the free coffee, I also started to see them as nice and friendly (exactly what they wanted me to think:). According to an interesting journal article by Thomson et.al, the way the brand behaves and how it engages with its customers (including the emotional engagement) have great implications for the customers’ emotional attachment to brands (it’s worth giving the article a read). It’s important to remember for all PR professionals willing to embark on this kind of practice.
I think Pret’s example could be used to illustrate the balance that PR needs to achieve when utilising emotions (be it when preparing campaigns, spots or stunts, or anything else for that matter). The brand trend to increasingly engage with emotions can only bring positive results it prepared carefully, with all pros and cons considered. However, most importantly, the difficult balance between what’s right and what’s tasteless has to be achieved in order to hope for success.