For football fans up and down the country, Monday night’s fifth round FA cup game between non-league side, Sutton United, and premiership team, Arsenal, was certainly not one to be missed! While fans anticipated a lot of action during the match, they weren’t expecting a savoury pie to be the talking point of the match.

I’m sure you’ll heard by now, but just in case you haven’t, Sutton’s reserve goalkeeper, Wayne Shaw, was spotted eating a pie in the dugout in the 83rd minute of the game. Sounds a bit strange for a player during a football game but also harmless right? Well, an online bookmaker had offered odds before the game at 8- that he would be caught on camera eating a pie – which Wayne apparently knew about. The whole episode created a media frenzy.

The PR stunt, now nicknamed ‘Piegate’, quickly gathered momentum on social media and made the headlines across the world, but it’s not all been positive. Was this a clever PR stunt, or has it failed miserably? Either way, the footballer resigned from the club the following day.

PR professionals across the world have shared their criticism, and the club’s PR agency has been quick to deny any involvement – and we can’t say we blame them!

If Wayne’s goal (excuse the pun) was to make a name for himself, then there’s no arguing that he’s achieved that, but his newfound celebrity status is likely to be short-lived. Brands such as Pukka Pies and Morrison’s were quick to jump on the #Piegate trend, with Morrisons approaching the footballer to become its official ‘pie taster’. But not everyone is happy with the situation, and Wayne is now under investigation by the FA and the Gambling Commission.

A successful PR stunt should grab attention, generate conversation on social media (which usually involves lots of memes) and make people want to find out more and dig into the brand. Initially we thought #Piegate was humorous, with Wayne being dubbed a ‘legend’ by many. But the scandal grabbed attention for all the wrong reasons, bringing negativity to what should have been the club’s finest hour.

Are you wondering how you could use a PR stunt to get people talking about your brand? If so come and speak to us, and we will get our creative heads on!

Posted: 24/02/2017

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