A UK security guard experienced the compassionate side of the internet last week when his request for annual leave went viral.
While most businesses plan a viral social media post, retail giant Arcadia, who own the likes of Topshop and Miss Selfridges, did not foresee a small slip-up turning into a massive social media gag.
Greg Hislop emailed a holiday request for a humble two days of leave to his manager last Wednesday only to have his boss unwittingly forward the request to 3500 fellow Arcadia employees.
They took no time to hit social media in support for the request, and online fans jumped on board to create the #givegregtheholiday’ hashtag on Twitter.
Hislop was inundated with offers of free goods, from clothing and bikes to hair products, while travel company Trek America offered the security guard flights to Vegas.
“We’re taking action and have decided to #givegregtheholiday. A TrekAmerica mini adventure with flights to Vegas. #GregGotTheHoliday!” read the company’s May 22 tweet.
While Hislop told the Mail Online he was still in shock, he revealed he will be giving everything to charity and going to Chessington World of Adventures instead of Vegas.
“All I wanted was my two days off and now I’ve got them. I’m going to go to Chessington World of Adventures with my wife Edyta and our 20-month-old daughter,” he told the Mail Online.
“I don’t want any of the free stuff. I’m going to donate it all to the Stephen Sutton charity so it goes to a good cause.”
Catriona Pollard from CP Communications told SmartCompany it was lucky the email was of a fun nature, or the company could have had a crisis on its hands.
“Accidentally sending emails is obviously not good procedure for a company, it could have been a complaint or sharing inappropriate or confidential information,” says Pollard.
“Obviously the good side of this, other than Greg will get his holiday, is the clever action taken by Trek America. They saw an opportunity for brand awareness and real-time marketing and they jumped on it,” she says.
Pollard says Trek America’s reaction is a lesson for companies on how to participate in viral opportunities.
“It shows how effective real-time marketing can be,” she says.
While Pollard says companies can really benefit from real-time marketing strategies, the quick timeframe can often mean rushed social media decisions.
“As in the case of Nando’s the other week, it doesn’t always work out for a company,” she says.
“But it certainly shows how social media can work in these quick and fun situations.”