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Don't panic! Have a doughnut

22 August 2014 | Lloyd Hughes

Greggs found itself in a bit of a cheese and pickle sandwich earlier this week. The bakery chain’s usual tagline is “Always fresh. Always tasty”. However on Tuesday a dodgy Google SEO algorithm caused something rather less savoury (pun attended) to appear on the first page of the Google search rankings.

Due to some unfathomable SEO machinations (unfathomable to me, at least), an alternative Greggs logo with the tagline “Providing sh*t to scum for over 70 years” was the most prominent search result on the initial results’ page.

The logo was apparently drawn from Uncyclopedia, which is a satirical take on Wikipedia. Now, with satire generally having more than just the ring of truth about it, this could’ve gone badly for Greggs. The scene I like to imagine at Greggs’ headquarters has a Lance-Corporal Jones style figure leaping out of their seat shouting “Don’t panic! DON’T PANIC!” before dashing around the office in a state of near hysteria. In fact, I like to picture this scenario in every corporate head office when pushed to the brink of a PR disaster.

However, it seems that there was a much smoother personality on hand to calm the situation than the Jones-esque character, as Greggs took to social media to seize the proverbial bull by the proverbial horns. Twitter was by this time ablaze with mockery at Greggs’ misfortune and an imprudent response from the bakers would have poured petrol onto the flames of derision, so it was important that the rejoinder was adequate. It was.

The high-street chain tweeted an image of a tray of doughnuts, with the line “Hey @GoogleUK, fix it and they’re yours!!! #FixGreggs”. No dry corporate statement, no threats of legal action, and no ignoring the situation. The reply was a straight acknowledgement that there was a problem with a tongue-in-cheek gesture that played on its brand. The Google UK team were quick to respond saying, “Sorry @GreggstheBakers, we’re on it. Throw in a sausage roll and we’ll get it done ASAP. #FixGreggs”. The tweet was accompanied by a picture of Homer Simpson distracted by doughnuts at work.

More Twitter engagement between the respective social media teams followed until the issue was resolved. Greggs’ final tweet was to acknowledge the fix and to display a photo of a number of sausage rolls arrayed on a white background to spell out the word Google, and suggesting that they could use it for the Google doodle the following day. Rather brilliantly, the team at Google responded with an image that showed crumbs spread all over a similar looking white surface with the line “Whoops! Sorry @GreggstheBakers. #fixgreggs #fixedgreggs #ategreggs.” No doodle for them then.

Yesterday, I saw that Google UK had tweeted an image of the baked treats that Greggs had subsequently sent them. True to their word, it seems.

All in all it was a fantastic bit of PR and some extremely deft social media management from both parties, which saw them both coming out on top. Well played, Greggs. Well played, Google. Any chance of some doughnuts and an SEO reward for us please?