Silly Sausage: Using outrage to generate attention and a PR buzz

By MK work experience, Christian Hayter.


Piers Morgan, the opinionated co-host of Good Morning Britain, makes no illusions of his contempt for vegans and vegetarians.

Recently, Morgan has made news for berating a vegan activist on his show, and a few weeks ago, he fumed over the veganification of Percy pigs, spitting out the sweets on set.

Morgan attracts both laughs and scorn for his pantomime pathological hatred of vegans, but it turns out that Morgan’s wrath toward the meat-free, can be used to make a big buzz for brands, as Greggs demonstrated in January.

By using Morgan’s outrage on Twitter, Greggs turned the outrage and potential backlash into fantastic PR, playfully rolling with the controversial host’s objections and creating an excellent buzz around the launch of its new product.  

Launched 2nd of January, the Vegan Sausage roll was announced with a slick, iPhone style reveal video on Twitter. In response, Piers tweeted ‘Nobody was waiting for a vegan sausage Roll, you PC-Ravaged Loons’.

The Greggs official Twitter account responded in turn, ‘oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you’. This reply generated 20 thousand retweets, and a staggering, 145 thousand likes, dwarfing the interactions of Morgan’s original tweet.

The ensuing Twitter spar between the host and the company then generated further buzz and attention. Dozens of outlets covered it, from significant papers to influential online outlets. Thousands of users piled on the exchange, including Piers’s co-host. The frequent framing of the interaction was greatly in favour of Greggs, with Piers Morgan being dubbed as being ‘destroyed’ by Greggs in the Sun.  

Alongside favourable coverage, the launch was a commercial triumph, with the meat-free snacks selling out all over the country, greatly boosting the companies stock, and the launches success was hailed by the Financial Times, with the customer response noted to ‘vastly outstrip anything a marketing budget could buy’.

PR week strongly praised the launch too, writing that the PR industry was in ‘awe’ of the ‘masterclass in public relations’. It is not hard to see why such praise flows; by tackling Piers criticisms straight on in a fun and engaging way, outrage on Twitter was utilised to spread awareness, entertain audiences and use both the companies clout, the influence of Piers Morgan and organic public interaction to enhance its product to make a Steller launch day.