Monthly Archives: February 2012

“People are grumpy in the morning!” says fruit juice sellers

February 19th, 2012

Tuesday’s Huffington Post reported:

If you find yourself waking up on the wrong side of the bed more often than not and the alarm clock snooze button is your friend, you’re not alone – a third of Brits wake up grumpy.

Frankly, in the middle of a bleak, dark and cold February, I’m shocked it’s only a third of us who wake feeling pretty down. But, as ever with these stories, the stats trotted out are second fiddle to the company name the story is designed to promote, so it’s little surprise to see in the next paragraph:

A survey by YouGov and PomeGreat discovered more than a third of adults in the UK dread getting out of bed and blame their early morning mood swings on work stress.

Well, at least they’re not burying it way down the page. Not mentioned is the PR firm who devised the story, but Pomegreat’s Contacts page suggests this is the work of Twelve Thirty Eight.

Still, let’s have a quick look at the stats, for funsies:

Of the 2,032 people questioned, one in four wished they didn’t have to go to work, with women dreading the day ahead the most.

Of course, why simply promote a product when you can write in a ‘men vs women’ angle to whip up the commenters below the fold. So, women are worst hit when it comes to dreading their day? Sort of…

Despite previous studies telling us that early morning risers are ‘slimmer, happier and healthier’, over 29% of women feel miserable at the start of the working week, compared to 26% of men.

So, in actuality, there’s just 3% in it. I’d be interested to see how this passes a statistical significance test – but I imagine such a test hasn’t been anywhere near this story. Instead, I’d wager that a load of people were asked some pretty generic questions, and the sample set was then datamined to get the results we’re reading here… simply to get this fruit juice a few column inches. Speaking of datamining, the article continues:

And it’s (unsurprisingly) Monday mornings that cause the most misery, and it’s the Welsh that feel the most blue, as 34% of them struggle to scramble from under the duvet, compared to 30% of Londoners, 28% Northerners and 27% of people living in Southern England.

And now we’ve had the data, let’s hear from the spokesperson/expert trotted out in the press release:

Work has become so stressful, more and more of us are producing the cortisol hormone in reaction to stress. This causes us to become irritable, anxious, aggressive and as a result, more unhappy in general,” Dr. Dorian Dugmore, a cardiovascular expert from the study, said in a statement.

A cardiovascular expert, you say? Well, I’m sure he’s the best person to speak to about sleep, waking, diets and nutrition – after all, he specialises in none of those fields, and is a heart specialist… 

What’s more, there’s nothing to back-up his claim that work is more stressful than it used to be, or that ‘more and more of us’ are feeling the effects of stress. But he’s a heart expert, so he must just know that kind of stuff.

“There are plenty of things that we can do to lift our spirits in the morning. A good shower and a balanced breakfast, including a glass of juice, have been clinically proven to improve our mood.”

And bingo – we have a juice connection. Have a glass of juice in the morning, and you’re clinically proven to feel in a better mood, apparently. And what kind of juice might you want to drink? Well it just so happens that Dr Dorian Dougmore is the spokesperson for Pomegreat juice:

It’s enough to make you grumpy, no matter what time of day it is.

“Sex with a co-worker: The right job could get you laid!” says job search website

February 18th, 2012

MSNBC reported this week that:

Thirty-eight percent of workers said in a new survey by CareerBuilder.com that they had dated a co-worker at least once during their working lives.

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The report echoed a press release also featured on various generic blogs, but originating with polling company Harris Interactive, commissioned by CareerBuilder.com – a company trying to convince people to get looking for jobs:

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A nice, convenient story for Valentine’s day, I’m sure you’ll agree – and, whether the facts are true or not, it’s a great way for CareerBuilder.com to get their name in the press.

“Men have close friendships with other men!” says social network site targetting men

February 17th, 2012

Another day, another awkward and annoying made-up term in the news:

OVER half of UK blokes have a bromance pal like Ant and Dec or Gavin and Smithy.

says the Daily Star

WOMEN who did not get a Valentine’s gift from their boyfriend or husband be warned – he may be enjoying a platonic “bromance” with a male friend.

says the Express.

Carrying the Star’s article on:

A survey by social site Badoo found that 55% of men had a close friendship with another man.

So it’s a press release from social networking site Badoo? Yep, it is – specifically one that was released in time for Valentine’s day, although clearly even the papers didn’t rate it worthwhile publishing at the time (they were too busy calling women fat). 

And why would Badoo want to publicise the close friendship between two men?

For the 44% of British men that have never had a bromance – Badoo.com offers them the chance to meet someone that’s like minded – whether that’s for bromance or romance

Obviously.

“Fairy tales can be scary!” says TV station airing scary fairy tales show

February 17th, 2012

Fairytales too scary for modern children, say parents

Traditional fairytales are being ditched by parents because they are too scary for their young children, a study found.

Research revealed one in five parents has scrapped old classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Rapunzel in favour of more modern books.

says the Telegraph.

Are fairy tales too scary for today’s children? Parents admit they refuse to read classics to youngsters

For generations, children have been captivated by Rapunzel and enchanted by Jack and the Beanstalk.

But it seems these traditional fairytales are on their way to an unhappy ending – as parents decide they are too scary.

One in five have ditched the likes of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm in favour of more modern books, a study has revealed

says the Daily Mail.

FAIRY TALES SHUNNED FOR BEING TOO GRIMM

TRADITIONAL fairy tales are being ditched by parents who say they are too scary for young children.

One in five parents has scrapped classics such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Rapunzel in favour of more modern stories, according to a study published yesterday.

says the Daily Express.

What is it about the sweet, classic stories we tell our children that has the British press up in arms? Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…

Once upon a time there was a TV station called Watch, run by UKTV, and the TV station spent a lot of its money buying a Big Bad American drama about a policeman who can see nasty monsters which were once thought to only inhabit fairy tales – a bit like in the fairy tales the newspapers are talking about.

And because this TV station wanted lots of mummies and daddies to watch their expensive Big Bad American drama, they produced an opinion poll which encouraged parents into saying fairy tales send bad messages to little girls and boys, so that the newspapers could make lots and lots and lots of noise about the nasty stories, specifically on the day the TV series was due to begin airing.

The End.

Now don’t have nightmares.

“We’re scared of losing our mobiles!” says mobile security firm

February 16th, 2012

You know when you hear a word for the first time and you can actually hear the excited marketing guy who blue-sky-thought it up in some knobby creative meeting?

Rise in nomophobia: fear of being without a phone

Two-thirds of people suffer from ‘nomophobia’ – the fear of being without their phone – according to a new study.

Say today’s Telegraph and Daily Mail – and a technology blog from two days ago, which appears to be when the press release was first sent out.

Researchers found 66 per cent of people are terrified of being without their phone, and the younger they are the more worried they are.

Which I guess explains why babies cry so much and look so permanently startled.

A survey of 1,000 people in employment found two-thirds of them fear losing their mobile phone.

The study, commissioned by SecurEnvoy, revealed that 41 per cent of the people polled have two phones or more in an effort to stay connected.

There we have it – bang in the middle of paragraph five, we have the commissioners of the survey: SecurEnvoy. And who are SecurEnvoy? They put security software on mobile phones. A bit like the mobile phones we all apparently worry we’re constantly on the verge of losing. Here’s their press release, which is listed on their site for today (but was clearly sent out on Tuesday at the latest):

So why would SecurEnvoy want to tell us we’re worried we’ll lose our mobile phones?

The survey also found that although 49 per cent of people get upset if their messages and texts were viewed by a partner, they’re still lax at securing these devices with 46 per cent do not use any protection at all, 41 per cent using a four pin access code; and just 10 per cent encrypting their device.

A security conscious three per cent use two factor authentication.

Mr Kemshall said: “With 58 per cent of the respondents using at least one device for business use, this lack of security is a worrying trend that needs addressing.

“At SecurEnvoy we have certainly seen a huge spike in demand from local Government and the private sector looking to turn their staff’s phones into security devices, where they can use SMS tokenless two factor authentication to access data securely and easily whilst on the move.”

There we go then, the message is clear: if you do fear you’ll lose your mobile phone, why not call us first to make sure you’re secure?

As for the research and the findings, are they true? Who knows – all that matters is that it’s in the news.

“All the cool kids are jogging in their lunch break!” says sportswear manufacturer

February 16th, 2012

The Daily Mail are always interested in explaining the very latest trends in office life, to help you stay on top of what’s hot. Like, for example, the ‘run-ch break’ – which is not just the ugliest word ever to have been portmanteaud, but also the coolest way to spend an hour away from your desk each day:

Rise of the run-ch break: How workers are swapping suits for jogging gear and exercising at lunch

More than two million British workers now exercise during their lunch break, according to a new study.

Researchers found around one in 13 employees now swap their suits for jogging gear and pound the streets while their colleagues relax and eat.  

And, over the course of the year, fitness-craving staff clock up an average of 468 miles while away from their desks.

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The story can also be found in The Telegraph and The Star, which is unsurprising given that this story is actually taken from a press release promoting sportswear manufacturer Helly Hansen, who you’d imagine might have something of an interest in encouraging more people to get into exercise. Which is why their name is nicely tucked away a few paragraphs down, below the fold, all subtle.

Interestingly, while the journalist who ‘wrote’ this article for the Mail – Julian Gavaghan – made some effort to edit around the original press release towards the start of the story, below the fold not even a punctuation mark appears to have been changed – with more than 600 words of untouched press release copy making up the end of the story.

Perhaps Julian was in a rush to file the story before run-ch.

“British kids lack culture!” says city tourism board ahead of half term week

February 15th, 2012

Let’s not believe that the Daily Mail are the only media source printing ideology-led opinion polls as news (although they’re probably the worst offenders). Take, for example, this from the BBC:

British children are culture starved, study says

Millions of British children are “culture starved” as they have never been to an art gallery, theatre or museum, a study has claimed.

The research, commissioned by Visit Birmingham, found four in 10 children had never been to an art gallery, while a quarter of parents had never taken their offspring to the theatre.

One in five parents said they did not think their child would be interested.

The study surveyed 2,000 parents of five to 12-year-olds around the UK.

Quite who thinks it’s a nice idea to be taking children under twelve (and as young as five) to an art gallery, I’ve no idea.

Looking at the stats, is this anything so remarkable? 40% of children aged 5-12 haven’t been in an art gallery – but 40% of children in that age bracket are under nine, so is it odd that children under nice haven’t been taken to an art gallery? I’m not sure. Further, was the breakdown across the age groups equal? Or were there a lot of five year olds included, but not as many twelve year olds – thus potentially skewing the numbers? 

I’ve no idea – the data isn’t presented, and isn’t freely available. Without the sample group, the raw figures don’t tell us much.

Should we expect more children under 12 to have visited art galleries? What would be a non-remarkable percentage, or what would be the expected percentage in a society which isn’t ‘culturally starved’? Again, we’re not told. Without context, the figures are meaningless at best, and misleading at worst. And that’s only if, indeed, they’re even accurate…

This – and the same story in The Telegraph and Daily Mail – came from a survey commissioned by OnePoll, the polling arm of press agency and PR firm 72 Point. We know this is true, because the press release is featured on both websites:

Although, oddly enough, the text is about an entirely different story (an error by the company in putting the story on their site, I presume). Still, it’s clear that they’re the originators, given the URLs of the relevant pages.

Handily, Visit Birmingham themselves published the full press release which the BBC and Telegraph based their articles on, which happily enough appears to coincide entirely coincidentally with their what-to-do-during-half-term offers.

So, a culturally bereft generation gone to the dogs? Or a tourist board advertising their half term offers?

“Married women are fat!” says weight loss firm targeting married women

February 14th, 2012

Another day, another weight loss firm telling women that ‘research’ says they’re fat… in order to peddle them a dubious diet as the solution. Take this one in the Daily Mail:

The fat wives brigade: Women pile on the pounds when in a relationship (gaining 16lb in the first six months)

New couple often vow to stick together through thick and thin. But men embarking on a new relationship may not realise just how literally their partner might take the thick part. 

A staggering 90 percent of women gain weight when they settle down with a long term partner, a study revealed today. 

The average woman puts on a belt-busting 16lbs, with the majority (56 per cent) starting to gain weight just four to six months in to the relationship.

Perhaps these figures are real. But what we do know is that the company pushing these figures and conducting the research have a clear interest in making people (and, given the market, particularly women) a reason to feel like they need a weight loss product:

Of the 1,000 women polled by weight management company LighterLife, over a third blamed an increase in cosy nights in for their weight gain.

How do we know this is a press release? Well, it’s not easy, but interestingly from searching for the quote picked out by the company representative, you can see that three hours before the Daily Mail published their article, the exact same story appears on an independent blog:

I might be wrong, and it may well be that the timing isn’t accurate, and the blog copied the Mail… but if that’s the case, it’s odd that the blog not only includes much of the same wording as the Mail’s article, but it also includes a whole section about a webchat too, which is missing from the Mail’s.

Further, the sections quoted by the blogger clearly come with the title of the press release: 

Love is in the air, and in the belly…

My guess would be that the blogger above was sent the press release, along with Deborah Arthurs at the Daily Mail – both of whom published it, the latter of the two very slightly re-wording the sections that weren’t direct quotes and publishing it as news.

So, weight loss company tells women they’re fat – and the newspapers present this as if it’s a genuine discovery, and not a thinly-veiled play on the insecurities of the target audience.

“Women – You don’t even know how fat you really are!” says weight-loss firm ‘Eat Water’

February 13th, 2012

Here’s a lovely tale from last week’s Daily Mail:

Two thirds of women have lied about their size, with 9lbs being the average amount by which they reduce their true weight.

Researchers found millions of women fib about their weight with many ‘losing pounds’ when talking to a partner, best friend and even their mum.

That’s right, women lie – in this case, about their weight, and to the people they love. And it doesn’t stop there:

Because of the lies, a quarter of women are now confused about their true weight and regularly buy the wrong sizes.

These poor deluded women even have themselves convinced that they’re slim. Which might explain why any women reading this might not think they’re overweight – you fools! You’ve bought your own lie!

Or at least so says Maysa Rawi of the Daily Mail. Or, rather, so says the press release trumpeting up this story, which is virtually identical to the article Maysa produced for the Mail. As ever, it’s not just the Mail who fell for this, with articles also appearing in The Sun and The Star, so far.

And just who has a vested interest in telling women they’re fat, even if they don’t realise it themselves? Step forward Eat Water – a weight-loss firm with some pretty zany sounding claims for their range of products:

Have you ever wondered how easy it would be to lose weight if you could eat water?

If you answered yes to that question, congratulations! You’re a moron.

I’ll leave the dissection of the science behind this to other people, along with the marketing claim made in the original press release that Eat Water is ‘a new pasta product that encourages weight loss so the more you eat the more weight you lose’.

But the next time you hear about Eat Water, remember they decided the best way to market their product was to tell women they’re fatter than they’ll admit to, and that women are fooling themselves if they think otherwise. Charming.

The Love Hearts PR Swizzle

February 12th, 2012

“Britain’s most romantic workplace? Love Heart factory, where 61 couples met, claims to be most lovestruck factory” declared the Daily Mail yesterday.

The makers of Love Hearts sweets claim to be the most romantic workplace in the country, because an unusually high number of their staff are said to be married to each other. 

Jeremy Dee, director at Swizzels Matlow, said: “One couple even used to pass Love Hearts down the production line to each other before they got chatting in the canteen. Love Hearts clearly inspire romance.”

Clearly.

Appearing just three days before Valentines day, it proved to be quite a popular story too, having also been taken up by the Telegraph, Mirror,  Metro and Express, so far (I’ll spare you the links). 

Jeremy even went as far as to deny that the figures were ‘deliberately released around Valentine’s Day in a cynical ploy to sell more sweets’, saying:

“We knew anecdotally that many were either married to each other or going out with each other, but we just did a quick ask around to find out how many were together. It’s a very close-knit place.”

Which is odd, given this diary entry in yesterday’s Independent:

Sometimes you have to admire these public relations people for the ingenuity and effort they put into trying to whip up interest in something that is truly, deeply, utterly uninteresting.

This one came yesterday from a PR person identifying herself only as Rachael: “The Swizzels Matlow factory in Derbyshire, home to the iconic Love Hearts sweets, is in the running for the most romantic workplace in Britain, after love blossomed for 61 couples. One in four of the factory’s workforce is in a relationship with a fellow colleague.”

Oops.