Who doesn’t love doughnuts? (Anyone who doesn’t can see themselves out now 😉).
For the rest of us, the tasty treats are basically beyond reproach. So, when a PR mishap occurs, even one that’s completely not your fault, sometimes your signature product offering is part of the remedy to rally back public opinion.
That’s just what happened with Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom.
Seems a Google bot slipped up just a bit with the Greggs profile – something was not quite right with their logo – it had applied a logo from a parody site in place of the official one.
So, instead of their usual slogan, “Always Fresh. Always Tasty”, the replacement was a little less flattering – “Providing sh!t to scum for over 70 years.” (“sigh” and it’s not even clever)1
Of course, this wasn’t exactly good news for Greggs. Regardless of who was at fault for the slipup, simply pointing the finger at the wrongdoer and yelling, “They did it!” would do nothing to help the situation.
Gregg’s could have gone the obvious route here to quickly defuse the situation – issue a statement apologizing for the error and vowing to fix it. And it probably would have worked out just fine.
But nope – where most would see an image management problem, Greggs saw a publicity opportunity and turned the tables on a PR disaster before it happened.
As one would expect nowadays, social media was quick to react. As thousands of tweets reshared the error, the bakery chain giant went to what they did best – doughnuts.
Gregg’s posted a photo of a tray of doughnuts and the message, “”Hey @GoogleUK, fix it and they’re yours!!! #FixGreggs”. (Hey, for those I’d fix it myself!)
And less than a half hour later, Google sent their response (guess they were hungry): a picture of Homer Simpson with doughnuts and the line, “”Sorry @GreggstheBakers, we’re on it. Throw in a sausage roll and we’ll get it done ASAP. #FixGreggs”.2 You can check out the pic exchange here.
Google and Gregg’s online banter continued into the day, with more pictures and doodles.
But here’s where the real sweetness comes in – the free, positive – media exposure:
The Telegraph: Greggs bakery shows how to handle a social media nightmare after offensive logo appears on Google
The Irish Times: Bakery chain gets offensive logo fixed after Google error
Business Insider: Google Apologizes To Bakery For Showing Logo That Called Its Customers ‘Scum’
And with that, a burgeoning crisis was flattened like so much unleavened bread.
That’s how corporate communications can score you a huge win in the court of public opinion – Greggs got the press on their side and spread their messaging far beyond the social media it started on
Now, how do I get them to “bribe” me with doughnuts?…
With a single social media posting, Gregg’s turned a potential negative climate of opinion into an exercise in masterful image control – and control it they did. They saw opportunity in the midst of bad news and used the power of social media – disruptively and proactively – to turn the conversation from what could have been just an apology into a fun and engaging day for themselves, Google, and their followers. And maybe got a few of them craving some baked goods.
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- McCarthy, John. “Google image gaffe claims Greggs has sold ‘sh!t to scum for over 70 years’.” The Drum, 19 August 2014, thedrum.com/news/2014/08/19/google-image-gaffe-claims-greggs-has-sold-shit-scum-over-70-years.
- Usborne, Simon. “Greggs Google Fail: Was the Bakery’s Response to Its Logo Mishap a Stroke of Marketing Genius?” Independent, 22 August 2014, independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/greggs-google-fail-was-bakery-s-response-its-logo-mishap-stroke-marketing-genius-9681928.html.