Former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan did not get where he is today without learning some of the lower-order tricks of the publicity trade. He was pals with former PR fixer-turned-criminal Max Clifford, the man who brought Sun readers “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”. He knows the value of flying a kite to raise someone’s publicity profile.
This should have been borne in mind when he launched into his latest apparently motiveless tirade, this time at take-out snack specialists Greggs. The company has just launched a vegan sausage roll. Well, big deal. But what would make this new product really fly off the hot tray would be a little recognition, the kind that someone with a 6.5 million Twitter following could bring. And, by complete coincidence, it just happened.
Morgan inexplicably took to Twitter to apparently put the boot in. After Greggs told their followers “The wait is over”, he responded, right on cue, “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns”, then followed up with “Just ordered a large sausage roll on room service. A meat one. Real meat. The vegan resistance starts here”.
The publicity is all that Cliffus Maximus would have envisaged. The Murdoch Sun, under the watchful eye of Morgan’s long-time pal Rebekah Brooks, served up “Piers Morgan clashes with Greggs over ‘PC-ravaged’ vegan sausage rolls … The outspoken star, 53, hit out at the ‘pc-ravaged’ snack after the popular bakery chain decided to extend their menu so that it catered to a wider audience”. There was more.
The HuffPost obligingly joined in, telling readers “High-street bakery chain Greggs appears to have won some new business after suggesting it fully expected to anger Piers Morgan over its new vegan sausage rolls”, and went as far as to explain “For those interested in the details, the new product has been designed to mimic its meaty cousin as closely as possible, boasting the same 96 layers of puff pastry but with a ‘bespoke’ Quorn filling instead of pork. It is the same price as a normal sausage roll: £1”.
Today, the Evening Standard has weighed in, letting readers know “Greggs has shrugged off a furious verbal attack by Piers Morgan over the bakery chain’s launch of a vegan sausage roll … One commentator described Greggs’ tweet [responding to Morgan] as ‘magnificent trolling’. Others said they would buy one of [the] items just to spite Morgan”.
The result was all that a PR agency could wish, as the Sun confirmed “clearly people wanted to try it for themselves as dozens of people said that their local branch had sold out of the treats … They were furious that they didn't get to try the new sausage-less pastry”. So which PR agency might that have been, then?
Well, the finger of suspicion has come to rest on Taylor Herring, they of “creative brand communications”, or as most people call it, PR and product placement. Look down their list of clients and there is … Piers Morgan - with TH’s work on his appalling book The Insider.
Now scroll up almost to the top and there is … Greggs. “Award-winning work for the UK’s No 1 ‘food on the go’ brand”. So where is my Occam’s Razor pointing me right now? This is faux outrage, just to sell a product. It’s worked. And no-one stopped and asked why.
Looks like the press has been had for mugs. Again. No change there, then.
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