“People hate having messy gardens!” says find-a-tradesman website

June 21st, 2012

One of my favourite tactics in Bad PR is the bait-and-switch – where an article opens with ostensibly one angle, only to veer back later towards the real aim of the company funding it. Such as the finding that we’re all a bunch of garden obsessives:

Why half of us get upset if next door’s garden is a jungle

You do your best to keep your garden at its blooming best, but there’s always one pest you can’t control – your neighbour.

More than half of us get upset if the plot next door is overgrown, a survey has found.

Other annoyances for those who like to keep up appearances include litter, dead grass and children’s toys strewn all over the lawn, according to the research.

What might seem a little surprising at first would be to discover that the story was based on a survey funded by – and therefore in order to promote – tradesman directory ratedpeople.com.

A spokesman for the publication said: ‘Britain is a nation of Hyacinth Buckets, with over half the population frowning on neighbours with an overgrown garden.’

The nationwide survey found that living next door to families proud of maintaining a manicured lawn is the dream of many.

Oh such lofty ambition from the humble Englishman – we but dare to dream of a world so green and pleasant as that glimpsed over the fence of our imaginary dream neighbour.

In fact, here’s their blogged version based on their press release, over at their website.

Now, simple logic would lead you to deduce that a nation made up of people who ‘do their best to keep their garden at its blooming best’ would have little need for a gardener – it’s their messy neighbour who poses the real problem. So, marketing budget wasted, then? Not so:

The report also found that many homeowners were frustrated that the pace of life left too little time to garden.

A third said they did not have enough time to look after it, while a quarter said there weren’t enough hours to relax on their plots.

And there’s the switch: from praising our obsessive need to have a tidy garden, we’re now addressing the fact that this (imaginary) obsession is undercut by our hectic working lives, leaving our (fictional) itch unscratched… and allowing for our trusty ratedpeople.com to step in and reap the seeds they’ve sown.