How to catch a haggis… and the public’s imagination

The PR business is very much the ideas business. Aside from the day-to-day publicity and marketing needs of a business, our clients employ us to come up with ideas for campaigns.

That’s the fun part. And recently we found ourselves ‘down on the farm’ making a video for local butcher Macbeth’s.

Owner Jock Gibson tweets about his haggis hunting escapades every year between Christmas and Burns Night, and we wanted to ramp up the publicity he gets for this and to highlight the quality haggis products he sells in his shop and website.

So we storyboarded and shot a two-minute video on his farm at Edinvale where he ‘famously’ hunts the wee beasties. Jock showed us his hunting ground and carefully explained the habitat and movements of the wild haggis.

So we filmed Jock collecting his tools and heading for the hills, setting and baiting a trap with single malt whisky, then peering through the rushes before wrestling a writhing haggis into submission. He also stalks and shoots a runaway haggis after sighting one in his binoculars.

[fbvideo link=”” width=”630″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”1″]

Of course, this was all tongue-in-cheek, and we wanted to play on the pseudo-seriousness that haggis hunting carries with it.


macbeths reach
The video reached 100,000 people in one day.

We knew it would be popular, and were pleasantly surprised when the video reached nearly half a million people in a week.

Having a great reach doesn’t mean it was engaging, so we made sure we published the video to a targeted demographic we knew would be likely to respond, and they did, increasing on-page activity by more than 17,000%. That’s 170 times the page activity the butcher would normally get in a week on Facebook, with more than 4,000 shares. It’s the activity of sharing that causes posts to go viral – combine shareability with reach, pick a channel that has high reach-to-engagement factor such as video, and you have a winning combination.

As an added bonus, the business acquired nearly 500 new ‘fans’ on its page, a metric, we’ll often cite as redundant, but when it representents a 20% increase in one week, it’s worth noting the brand value of a sudden massive jump, and act on it.

macbeths engagement
Engagement soared by 17,000%

Strategically, we staggered publicity to keep the interest going, so as well as social media, we used the company blog, online news sites and print media to keep the interest alive.

What was most interesting was how the demographic really bought into the haggis hunting vibe.

Haggis hunters unite

Many commented with their own tales of haggis hunting, comparing species, techniques and offering advice.

Even the schoolkids got in on the act.

Somebody even posted a diagram of a haggis which showed how a haggis would run around Ben Nevis. And a primary school in Edinburgh posted a picture of a class art project, where the kids had coincidentally created a ‘How to Catch a Haggis’ guide.

Others tagged their friends, remonstrating that they ‘told them the haggis was real’

Orkney haggis hunters chimed in to say they used the exact same techniques but with a local whisky.

Engagement came from all over the world from Tennessee, Texas, Russia, Dubai, Germany and many more far-flung locations.

All done in-house

From a campaign point of view, it has created increased brand awareness for the butcher, increased sales of haggis, and generated traction online and data that can be used in future campaigns.

From a production angle, it’s a service we provided in-house from beginning to end, brainstorming the idea, scripting, filming, editing, advertising, writing the blog and press releases and following up on interviews. That saves time and money for the client and creates a bond between all aspects of the campaign, leaving less room for slack.

It also means we got to eat fresh, wild haggis.