There’s a Sheffield United season ticket holder who’s gained a certain level of notoriety among Bramall Lane regulars. He starts watching each match with a hot Greggs steak bake in each pocket to warm his hands, and subsequently tucks into them at half-time.

Whether his match ritual is strange or ingenious (or both!) is up for debate. But it has long been the subject of conversation among punters – and now a strikingly similar PR stunt by Greggs has also got people talking.

The high-street bakery chain this week placed its pastries in the pockets and bags of Primark mannequins to tease an upcoming collaboration with the fast fashion brand – causing passers-by to stop, stare, and post photographs on social media.

Following the stunt and subsequent revelation from Greggs – announcing the launch of an 11-piece clothing collection and a new Greggs café in Primark’s Birmingham branch – shoppers took to social media in their droves to speculate about which items the fashion line might include.

“Greggs and Primark ‘joining forces on a clothing collection’? Looking forward to bake-inis, sausage rollnecks and handbag(uette)s,” one shopper tweeted. “Sausage Jean and cheese anyone?” tweeted comedian Graeme Rayner.

If Lidl’s £12.99 sell-out trainers are anything to go by, the range is likely to be a success. But the important takeaway here isn’t necessarily how well Greggs-branded clothing sells – it’s the phenomenal amount of exposure that both brands have gained as a result of the tie-up.

The stunt demonstrates the effectiveness of a tried-and-tested PR strategy: pushing a controversial combo. Take the viral success of “Beanz on bix”, for example. Weetabix last February saw a 15% sales uplift in Sainsbury’s alone, after a divisive post showing the cereal bars slathered in baked beans racked up over one billion views.

After the stunt made headlines in national newspapers and sparked engagement with other big brands – such as Nando’s, which asked Weetabix “you okay hun?” – Weetabix took full advantage of the exposure, even merchandising its ‘bix’ and Heinz Beanz together for Valentine’s Day at the Sainsbury’s Kiln Lane store in Epsom.

Myriad fmcg brands have since tried to mimic its success. Krispy Kreme did so explicitly yesterday, posting a photograph of its ring doughnuts covered in baked beans to Instagram with the caption: “Because Beanz on Weetabix is so 2021”.

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And last year saw a string of questionable collabs: there was Camden Town Marmite Ale, BrewDog Parma Violets IPA and Heinz Chocolate Orange Mayo, to name a few. Doritos also took advantage of the ‘maximum outrage caused = maximum publicity gained’ formula last summer, by teasing a fake strawberries and cream flavour of its crisps to promote its partnership with Strawberries & Creem, the music festival.

The fact that not one of these products sounds appealing worked to the brands’ advantage: they sparked mass publicity by nature of their weirdness.

The lesson? Brands pushing bizarre NPD aren’t necessarily worried about how many units of that product they’re going to shift. The goal is to cause a stir, promote social engagement and make headlines, all of which helps cement their names in shoppers’ consciousness.

In other words, Greggs probably isn’t worried about how many branded hoodies it’s going to sell. Instead, it’s hoping the publicity afforded by the collaboration with Primark will help keep its baked goods flying off counters faster than you can say “vegan sausage roll”.