Water pistols protest against Soho Square private picnics
Open Table scrap publicity stunt
30 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot
PROTESTERS against a “VIP area” being set up in a public square were preparing to load-up water pistols for the big launch.
The online restaurant booking firm OpenTable was offering an “usually unbookable experience” of renting picnic patches in Soho Square.
The PR stunt backfired dramatically with a social media frenzy against the “corporate lunch take- over” of a green space.
Once anti-homelessness spikes campaigners got involved and invited sup- porters to bring water pistols to the launch, OpenTable politely accepted defeat and scrapped the entire scheme.
A statement from the organiser said: “If you’re opposed to booking your own patch of grass under this farcical effort of corporate promotion, and wish to use this public space as it was intended, and as we all do already, join us. Having organised the demonstration which led to the removal of anti- homeless spikes at Tesco Piccadilly Circus, which then inspired a national movement, I’m offended Westminster Council would approve such a thing here in Soho.
“Let’s disrupt this event and reclaim our public space. Bring Party Hats. Bring Your Lunch Box. Bring Music. Bring Water Pistols.”
The council had con- firmed that OpenTable had paid a “nominal fee” to cover admin costs but that no one was due to make money out of the event. OpenTable also clarified that this event would only use a small section of Soho Square.
On Twitter, Lee Mabey said: “There are two types of Londoners. Those that will lap up paying for a picnic patch in Soho Square. Those who will turn up to make the experience an utter misery.”
On Wednesday the company said: “Following feedback over the past week we have taken the decision to cancel our upcoming picnic activation in Soho Square.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes those who have booked and will be in touch with you all directly shortly.”
OpenTable is a table booking service online with 40,000 restaurants.