Flower Giveaway Goes Viral

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, thousands of people had a most remarkable “hump day.”

That’s because dozens of industry professionals — including growers, wholesalers and retailers— devoted several hours to pass out complimentary bouquets during a feel-good campaign called “Petal It Forward.”

Playing off the “pay it forward” concept, in which people perform random acts of kindness for strangers and urge them to keep the goodwill going, Petal It Forward participants handed out pairs of bouquets, one for the lucky recipient to keep and another to pass off. They also asked people to post a picture with their bouquet to social media and to add the hashtag #petalitforward, so their friends and relatives would see what joy flowers bring.

Rio Roses nudged Miami recipients to share the event online.
Rio Roses nudged Miami recipients to share the event online.

This is not the first time a flower giveaway has inserted excitement into an otherwise boring workday (to name a few examples: Make Someone Smile Week, The Lonely Bouquet, Random Acts of Flowers). However, it was one of the largest.

New Yorkers petal it forward.
New Yorkers petal it forward.



The Society of American Florists spearheaded the event in New York City, distributing 4,000 bouquets to passersby in Times Square with the help of employees from Starbright Floral Design. To encourage members to replicate Petal it Forward in their own communities, SAF provided templates for t-shirts, signage and press releases.

At press time, SAF had learned of 44 Petal It Forward individual events. More than one thousand people posted photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“We were thrilled at the participation by local florists, wholesalers and growers,” said SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks. “It was truly a great example of the industry working together.”

Employees at Dandelions, Flowers and Gifts get ready to spread some joy in Eugene, Oregon.
Employees at Dandelions, Flowers and Gifts get ready to spread some joy in Eugene, Oregon.
Red Kennicott makes Cubs' fans even happier.
Red Kennicott makes Cubs’ fans even happier.



In planning Petal It Forward, Sparks had read countless heartwarming stories of anonymous good deeds that brighten people’s days –be it paying for a veteran’s meal, feeding someone’s meter or leaving an outrageously big tip –but nothing compared to seeing it firsthand in New York.

“We turned a Wednesday into a great day for many,” she said. “People smiled, engaged with us, and some were brought to tears. It was a great example of the power of flowers to form connections.”



She marveled at how people responded to the challenge to spread the good feelings.

“As much as people loved receiving the flowers for themselves, the majority seemed even more interested in giving flowers to someone else,” Sparks said. “So many people simply walked down the street and gave flowers to complete strangers. It was great!”

To learn more about the experience, check out Sparks’ blog post here.

Best-selling author Christine Arylo, co-founder of Inner Mean Girl Reform School who’s been featured on ABC, CBS, Fox, E!, and The Huffington Post, also blogged about the experience. You can read her thoughts here.


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