No such thing as bad publicity?

You’ve probably heard this old cliche often banded around and dropped in conversation. I mean it makes sense right? As long as somebody is talking about you or your product then its free publicity and getting yourself or your brand name out there. That’s the thinking behind it anyway.

Common sense dictates however that surely not all publicity is good? Take the bosses of Pret a Manger for example I’m sure they were wishing for anything but publicity after the allergy death scandal back in September. Often bad publicity can be extremely damaging for a company. Shattered reputations can sometimes never be rebuilt. After a series of scandals involving the harvesting of users data social media giant Facebook suffered nothing but bad publicity.

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The continuous bad headlines eventually led to a 10% drop in market share for facebook, down to 66% from 76%. So i think it’s fair to say the “no such thing as bad publicity” myth has well and truly been debunked.

There are however cases where bad publicity or negative press can be beneficial to a company or product.

Step forward Greggs.

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On the 3rd of January Greggs launched a vegan sausage roll across the majority of its stores in the UK. The news went viral almost immediately and became the subject of many videos, memes and news reports. Many anti-vegans took to the internet to vent their fury at the product. Various clips of users buying the product and then placing it in the bin soon went viral across multiple platforms. The irony and ineffectiveness of buying a product to protest its sale must’ve been lost on them!

Nobody seemed quite as upset about the launch however than the consistently dislikable Piers Morgan.

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Morgan has regularly tweeted about the sausage roll since its launch and brought much attention to the product during his television appearances on Good Morning Britain. Greggs however won’t be downhearted by this in the slightest. Morgan is singlehandedly providing the product with so much coverage and free screen time. By attempting to bully and ridicule the innocent vegan sausage roll he is keeping it in the news and if you were’t aware of the product beforehand it is now impossible not to be.

Morgan has a strong reach on twitter and can be seen as an influencer due to his 6.5 million followers. So think of all that free publicity Greggs is receiving. Piers Morgan is a divisive figure and sure some of his followers may agree with his views but you could argue that some will go as far as purchasing the product just to spite him. Customers certainly are purchasing the product that’s for definite! Stores are regularly selling out and struggling to keep up with the demand.

I went to try one myself the other day in Cardiff and was unfortunately too late. Sure it would be extremely naive to attribute the high sales purely to negative press from the likes of Piers Morgan. Other factors have to be taken in to consideration such as Veganuary and the uniqueness of the product itself; though I am certainly of the opinion that all the negative press has really helped to thrust the product in to the spotlight and maintain it there, driving sales.

Therefore, although you can’t always rely on “no such thing as bad publicity”, there are certainly cases where it can be present.

Elian.

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