Piers Morgan vs The Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll

Yesterday I listened to the newest episode of Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast with the highly controversial Piers Morgan. Though I disagree with a lot of what Morgan said in the interview I do find him a very interesting character and it got me thinking about the power certain characters in our society hold in relation to generating engagement online

In the interview, Morgan spoke about his infamous opinion about the vegan sausage roll which Greggs released in 2019. Once the vegan sausage roll was announced, Morgan tweeted saying “nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns”, to which Greggs replied, “oh hello piers, we’ve been expecting you”. Not only is this a perfect example of reactive PR, but the tweet in response to Morgan gained over 100k more likes than the original announcement tweet from Greggs. Clearly, this displays the huge power which Piers Morgan or a similar character holds when it comes to generating engagement online. This rivalry went on for a few months and generated a huge amount of publicity surrounding the launch of the sausage roll, and contributed to Greggs having a highly successful financial year. Of course, this success cannot all be contributed to Piers, as the vegan food market is an industry which is growing massively year on year, however it was interesting to think about the possible power which his one tweet may have had. He is a character which people love to hate, and many will go out and buy, and then tweet about the vegan sausage roll just to disagree with him.

However, it was interesting to hear that the owner of Greggs thanked him for the engagement he created online to which Piers joked about crafting a career out of disagreeing with new products online in exchange for a percentage of the profits. From a PR perspective, we are far to use to seeing influencer engagements online, where people are paid to say positive things about the product. It is interesting to think about the possible alternative, where people could be paid to disagree in exchange for the same audience reaction. Of course, there is an ethical issue with this as it has the potential to become in-genuine in the future, however it may offer a refreshing change to the typical influence endorsement.

I am writing my dissertation about the validity of influence endorsements on social media, and so thinking about the opposite is interesting to me. Over the past year since beginning my dissertation I have seen a shift in influencer endorsements where influencers are beginning to share some negative opinions about products to appear more authentic. I believe that this is a refreshing change, and it makes me more likely to trust what the influencer is saying. However, I think that it would be difficult for someone to disagree with a product in a partnership in a convincing way due to the audience being aware of the personal gain they will receive.

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