This week, Monday 8th July, social media platforms are up in arms over Heck, a sausage manufacturer in North Yorkshire, after they took the opportunity for a photoshoot with Boris Johnson and their specially created “Boris Banger”. However, what was probably dreamt up as a “bit of fun” has horribly backfired in the wake of hundreds of social media users tweeting about their upset and calling for others to #BoycottHeck. 

Of course, it’s not all hatred, torches and pitchforks; plenty of users are calling the entire notion of boycotting a sausage manufacturer ‘ridiculous’ with many celebrating the fact that there will be more sausages left on the shelves for them to enjoy. 

But is a photo shoot and a custom banger worth all this uproar, vitriol and controversy? We investigated further into the upset and on this occasion, it looks like Heck may have bitten off more than they can chew… 

Conflicting Opinions 

While any step into the political realm is going to cause some ruffled feathers here and there, the biggest backlash comes from a previous statement made by the founder, Debbie Keeble, in an interview with The Guardian back in May 2017. 

‘I ask Debbie Keeble what an end to free movement of labour would mean to her business. “It would be cataclysmic,” she says. “No one here will take these jobs.” The Heck factory is in an area that voted strongly for Brexit. “During the referendum, campaigners were going on about people coming over here taking our jobs. Well, they’re not, because nobody here applies for them.”’ 

Considering Boris’ pro-Brexit views and ties to potentially misleading the public regarding post-Brexit promises, many people are wondering exactly why Heck Sausages were so eager to welcome Brexit-Boris with open arms and provide him with his very own sausage if they were previously so anti-Brexit themselves. Many Heck Sausage fans and customers, who were previously in support of their anti-Brexit views, were left wondering if Heck knew exactly what they were doing when they planned this media stunt and whether they considered the move inflammatory and conflicting or just wanted to turn some heads. 

Considering their interview with The Guardian was over two years’ ago at the time of their Boris photoshoot, maybe the business received a turn around in the types of people applying to jobs. Finding an upturn in locals wanting to work with the British sausage factory, it’s possible that their political views have changed and they are now in support of Brexit - especially considering Heck Sausages' slow response rate to the online animosity. Having only posted a general response on Twitter yesterday afternoon (Monday 8th July) stating that they still have a workforce of 50% Eastern Europeans and do not endorse either candidate but had invited them both to explore what is potentially going to happen in the future, this does seem unlikely.  

This delayed response only added further fuel to the fire and is a good reason why brands should employ or have a social media crisis response team available - or at the very least incorporate a crisis management plan into their social media strategy. You can learn more about how social media platforms can help your business in one of our recent blog posts. 

Is All Publicity Good Publicity? 

At this stage, it's hard to tell whether Heck Sausages will come out on top of this recent media storm, considering the fact that recent Tweets seem to be a generous mix of people planning to #BoycottHeck as well as those calling the entire boycott a waste of time and eagerly buying up more Heck brand sausages. Google Trends has shown uptake in the number of searches around ‘Heck Sausages’, with the number of searches increasing tenfold in comparison to search trends last week.  

A greater evil that Heck Sausages may have to deal with is anger and disappointment from their own staff, of which they have previously said come from countries across Europe. A drop in staff morale that doesn’t recover could see the company losing income through increased staff turnover, reduced productivity and an understandable distrust between employer and employee. This could have a knock-on effect on their ability to keep suppliers and supermarkets stocked and lead to a loss in business and loyal customers.  

There is another point to consider, too, that maybe this was all to gain Boris’ favour over Heck’s plans for a ‘Sausage of the North’ sculpture, intended to be placed overlooking the A1 (M) in North Yorkshire. Boris gave his support for the sculpture during his visit. 

The Future of Heck Sausages 

There is certainly more for Heck to say regarding their Boris Bangers and the recent visit, but they may be choosing to keep their heads down and hope this whole fiasco will blow over, probably while doing some drastic damage control to ensure they haven’t alienated any of their current hard-working employees. However, we are sure that before long, there will be another ‘controversy’ for Twitter to get worked up over and Heck Sausages and their Boris Bangers will soon be forgotten. 

Don’t let your social media sizzle out! Get in touch with our sales team who can provide you with details on exactly how we can help your social media platforms drive awareness and encourage conversions without boycotts and controversy! 

Posted On
Jul 09 2019