Monthly Archives: January 2013

“People should be doing more adventurous travelling!” says extreme sportswear company

Do you ever feel like you’re just not adventurous enough? That you might be letting life pass you by? If so, that might be because of articles put into the press by companies who want you to feel that way, such as this effort in the Daily Express:

THE 50 THINGS WE WILL NEVER GET ROUND TO BEFORE WE DIE

Becoming a millionaire, paying off the mortgage early and travelling the world are some of the more predict­able ambitions. But also included on a list of 50 things the average adult dreams of doing are some slightly more bizarre aims.

Inventing a product that changes people’s lives, for instance, or abseiling down a mountain might not be on everyone’s to-do list.

And as for flying a plane, climbing Everest or learning to surf, the majority of adults will never pluck up the courage to do any of these.

Source: Daily Express, 19 January 2013

And, obviously, it appeared in the Daily Mail too:

See the seven wonders of the world, go on safari and swim with dolphins: The top 50 things people want to do before they die

Seeing the seven wonders of the world, going on safari  in Africa and swimming with dolphins are among the list of 50 things the average person wants to do before they die.

But sadly researchers have found that most adults will only ever fulfill five of their lifelong ambitions.

Many feel they do not have enough time to tick off the experiences, while others admit to not being fit or adventurous enough or being too afraid of getting hurt.

Source: Daily Mail, 19 January 2013

The message is clear – there’s an awful lot of things in life you will never get to do, because you’re going to die. So, while we’re still fleetingly alive, let’s do all those adventurous things we’ve been putting off – such as climbing a mountain, going surfing, and doing all those other things that require outdoors clothing. Which is excellent advice, from Helly Hansen:

A spokesman for clothing company Helly Hansen, which commissioned the study of 2,000 adults, said: “It is fantastic to see that so many people still have a passion for taking to the outdoors in order to experience new challenges, but a real shame to see that some may not achieve lifelong ambitions because of a lack of faith in their own ability.

“We are only too aware of the positive mental effects and increased confidence associated with physical activity in an outdoor environment.

In fact, not only was this a press release put out by Helly Hansen, but it was via our friends at 72 Point, whose polling arm OnePoll ran the online survey:

“People fight over who has to cook meals!” says takeaway company

Relationships can be tricky things, fraught with danger and pitfalls – if the world of PR has anything to say in the matter, that is. Take, for instance, an article from the Daily Express:

KITCHEN SINK DRAMAS…THE SOURCE OF MANY A BUST-UP

Only money causes more arguments with two out of three couples squabbling over domestic chores at least once a week.

Research reveals that one in five of us knows a couple who row regularly or have even broken up over housework.

Laziness about cooking and cleaning comes second only to bad personal hygiene in the list of reasons to dump someone, the study by online takeaway firm Just Eat found. Record numbers of couples file for divorce in January, hinting at dramas such as illicit affairs, financial worries and Christmas “cabin fever”.

But in the survey of more than 2,000 adults money was named as the cause of most rows by nearly a quarter (24 per cent) with 17 per cent saying household chores were to blame.

Source: Daily Express, 21 January 2013

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The article was also picked up by the Daily Mail on the same day:

House-cleaning causes the most marital dust-ups as majority of couples admit they row over chores at least once a week

Couple fight more over who cleans the house, does the cooking and washes up than anything else except money, a survey found.

Nearly two-thirds admit they argue over chores at least once a week. And one in five people know a couple who row regularly or have broken up over the issue.

Laziness about cooking, cleaning and other chores comes second only to bad personal hygiene in the list of reasons to break up with someone, the survey of more than 2,000 adults by online.

Source: Daily Mail, 21 January 2013

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It seems, then, that to be in a relationship is to experience an endless stream of arguments over petty little things, like who does the cooking. Which begs the question: what can be done to alleviate these domestic woes and bring harmony back to our lives? Well…

David Buttress, managing director UK for Just Eat, said: “When tempers wear thin, think about letting a professional takeaway chef do the hard work instead.”

That would be Just Eat, the takeaway company, telling you that you’ll argue with your loved one over who does the cooking, unless you find a way to avoid either of you having to cook.

“Men don’t wash their faces often enough!” says men’s skincare product manufacturer

Are you a man? Or do you know any men? If so, beware – there’s a good chance they’re a seething mass of dirt, grime and filth, according to the Daily Mail:

Grubby guys! Men only wash their faces SIX times a week, study reveals
– 
Men spend just 5 minutes and £2.44 a week on their face care
– 
Men worry more about being over weight (42%) than about their face (32%)
– Women however say a mans face is what most attracts them

Britain may be billed as the home of James Bond, well mannered gentlemen and old fashioned elegance, but it seems our men are hiding a (rather grubby) secret.

Far from embracing the ‘metrosexual’ trend of male grooming, the average British man washes his face just six times a week, a new study reveals.

Facial maintenance is clearly not high on their list of priorities with one in five (18 per cent) allocating less than five minutes each week to take care of their faces.

Source: Daily Mail, 15 January 2013

The media seem to oscillate consistently between the notions that men are dirty and that men are secretly make-up-wearing metrosexuals, with a regularity that suggests a) the data is nonsense and b) they don’t really believe it.

Still, you work with what you have, and this time we’re facing the notion that the average British male washes his face less often than once a day, which is a finding we’re offered no context on – we aren’t even informed what kind of average we’re dealing with. Does the mean male wash his face only six times a week? If so, we need an awful lot of men barely ever washing, to balance out those who do wash regularly. 

Or perhaps we’re looking at the modal male? Even if that were the case, we’ve still the issue that more than half of men don’t wash their faces at all at least one day in the week. 

Or perhaps this is a nonsense survey aimed simply at getting a company name into the press? Well… 

The research, carried out by Dove Men, also highlighted how men get agitated by skin troubles…

…A spokesman for Dove Men+Care, said: ‘Men clearly value the importance of looking good, but seem to neglect the area they show off most and which women find most appealing.

‘We want to encourage men to take better care of their faces, boost their confidence and help them relieve discomforts.’

This is, yet again, a piece based on the implausible, unproven and unavailable results from an online survey carried out by a company with a vested interest in selling an angle – in this case, a skincare product manufacturer, who astoundingly believe men need to wash their face more often and take better care of their skin.

“Girls are still using Brandon Wade’s escort websites!” says Brandon Wade, in the Daily Mail

A little while ago, I wrote a piece for the New Statesman, summarising the hypocrisy of the Daily Mail – or, more specifically (as that really doesn’t narrow things down any), how the Daily Mail campaigned against pornography and the moral degradation of the youth of today while running 29 articles promoting a suite of online escort agencies. If you haven’t read it yet, you should, it was decent.

Still, that was 2012 – crazy, heady, anything-goes days. It’s like a whole other world. There’s no way the Daily Mail, in 2013, would do anything as hypocritical and sleazy as that again.

Number of female students seeking sugar daddies to pay college tuition doubles in just one year – and Georgia State University is leading the pack

Nearly three thousand U.S. college students went online in the search for a ‘sugar daddy’ to fund their education last year.

Georgia State University and New york University were the top two schools for female students to seek out men willing to fund their tuition, with Pennsylvania’s Temple University following closely behind for third place.

According to the website SeekingArrangement.com, 2012 saw a 58per cent growth in female students signing up to be ‘sugar babies,’ which the site describes as ‘attractive, intelligent, ambitious and goal oriented’ women seeking ‘financial pampering.

Source: Daily Mail, 14 January 2013

Or maybe they would.  

“People don’t change their bed linen enough!” says bed linen retailer

People are dirty, particularly in the bedroom. No, that’s not what I mean – I’m referring to the finding that:

A fifth of us don’t change our bed sheets even once a month – and it’s causing us asthma, eczema and sniffles as a result
– 40% of us change our bed linen every week 
– 
A further 36% do it fortnightly and 1% yearly

Nearly a fifth of Britons fail to change their sheets at least one a month, starling new figures suggest. 

And they could be storing up a whole host of health woes as a result, ranging from asthma to rhinitis and eczema, a leading allergy expert has warned. 

A survey of more than 2,000 people found that more than half of us sleep in dirty sheets – and women are the guilty sex when it comes to not changing the bed linen regularly.

Source: Daily Mail, 7 January 2013

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It seems that poor hygiene in the bedroom department can lead to health problems – issues which can be avoided if we purchase a special set of bed linen:

Those who suffer particularly badly should consider investing in dust mite proof bedding and we should all be making it a priority to wash our sheets on a one to two weekly basis at 60 degrees.

This would be advice, of course, from a bed linen retailer:

The research, commissioned for the home retailer Dunelm Mill, found just two in five of us change our sheets weekly – in line with the standards of TV’s cleaning gurus Kim and Aggie. 

This would also be advice which featured in the Daily Mail the previous week, with the same survey being used to form the basis of this article:

Proof that it really isn’t grimy up North! The South lagging behind when it comes to clean sheets and vacuuming

Britain’s cleanest homes are in the North of England and Scotland, while the grubbiest are in the South, a survey shows.

The North East was the cleanest region, with two-thirds of those surveyed saying they clean at least twice a week, followed by the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside.

The study ranked regions in order of how frequently homeowners cleaned six areas: bathrooms, toilets, bedsheets, surfaces, floors and fridges.

Source: Daily Mail, 28 December 2012

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I’m not sure if this means Dunelm Mill are having a two for one sale? Certainly, their PR team over at Bright PR were…

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“Loads of girls keep diaries nowadays!” says TV channel promoting show about diaries

The youth of today may not be as internet-obsessed as you might expect, and are surprisingly fond of the pen and paper, according to The Mirror recently:

Young girls use a diary not Facebook to log their most intimate thoughts

More 16-19-year-olds are turning to the private world of pen and paper to jot down what they really think

Teenage girls may use social network Facebook for cosy chats with friends but they keep their most intimate thoughts in an old fashioned diary, a survey has revealed.

In the age of social network sites which are awash with gossip, banter and everyday problems, more 16-19-year-olds are turning to the private world of pen and paper to jot down what they really think.

Research by broadcaster E4 found 83% of today’s teenage girls keep a diary compared with 69% in the 1990s when the internet was a sci-fi dream.

Source: Mirror, 14 January 2013

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This would tell us something interesting and revealing about the appeal of a good, old-fashioned paper diary… were it not a press release for a new E4 TV show about diaries in a pre-internet age:

Dear Facebook, to know the REAL truth, read my diary

Research by E4 reveals personal pen-and-paper diaries more popular than ever as teens take comfort in private journals over social networking sites

Research conducted by E4 to tie in with brand new British 90’s-set series My Mad Fat Diary, based on the real-life teenage diaries of Rae Earl – starting Monday 14th January, 10pm

It’s a statistic Adrian Mole would be proud of: personal pen-and-paper diaries are more popular now than pre social-media days, as today’s teens take comfort in private journals as an outlet for their innermost thoughts and feelings, a survey by E4 has revealed.

The survey – undertaken to coincide with the launch of My Mad Fat Diary, a new 90s-set British series based on the real-life teenage diaries of Rae Earl – reveals that 83% of today’s teenage girls keep a diary, compared with 69% in the 1990s.

Source: Channel 4 press release, 14 January 2013

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“Gyms can get dirty!” says company which cleans gyms

Gyms have been in the news on a fairly regular basis over the last few weeks, which is exactly what we’d expect to see as PR companies take advantage of the annual ‘get-fit’ resolutions of the nation. So it’s no surprise to see this story in the Daily Mail, detailing some of the odder gym behaviour taking place over in America:

From flatulent body builders to the blood on the weight room floor: The most vile behavior to come out of the gym

A new survey has revealed the most revolting conduct to come out of the local gym – and it goes far beyond the meatheads who neglect to wipe their sweat off the equipment.

Respondents to the poll were asked about the most shocking sights that they have witnessed while exercising in the gym – and they spilled all the gory details.

It appears that any one of the nearly 50 million Americans who hold gym memberships have a horrific locker room story to tell, and the respondents were no different.

Source: Daily Mail, 14 January 2013

I have to admit, at first this one caught me something off-guard – it has all the obvious trappings of PR, with a nonsense poll, some headline-grabbing rarities in the results and a clear angle to the copy, but it wasn’t immediately clear who funded the story, and who profits from it. Initially, there appeared to be only two possible candidates:

Some of the particularly gruesome details were unveiled today by the Today show’s TodayHealth blog – including flatulence and unexpected bowel movements…

…Neil Gussman, communications manager at Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, told TodayHealth: ‘At family gyms like the YMCA, guys keep the body noises under control – until they get to the locker room.’

Is this story really just here to promote NBC’s the Today Show, or Philadelphia’s Chemical Heritage Foundation? PR can be odd, and sometimes obscure, but that would be downright opaque. 

But, after a moment, it became clear: the Daily Mail story (written by that hard-working journalist ‘DAILY MAIL REPORTER’ – a synonym for ‘COPY AND THEN PASTE’) is in fact taken directly from the Today Show’s blog, but in the copy/paste the survey’s originator is lost:

You won’t believe these gym gross-outs

Gym rats: beware of gym rats, as well as gym cockroaches. Also, you’d best avoid that dried vomit coating the stationary bike, the blood swirling in the whirlpool, and that old man in the locker room who is dutifully airing out his genitals with the hand-held hair dryer.

These are merely five of the nearly 2,000 gnarly sights, smells and sounds reported by fitness center patrons in a new Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the Cintas Corporation. Exercise buffs were asked last month, via an online poll, to list “the dirtiest object or behavior” they’ve ever seen in an athletic facility. They were urged to “please be as descriptive as possible.” Oh, and the people obliged – just in time for the January surge of membership deals from your local gyms.

Source: TodayHealth, 13 January 2012

That the Daily Mail copied the story but ditched the paymaster is rare to the point of outright novel.

As for the originator of the poll, the company who paid to have it pretend to be news? That would be Cintas, the professional cleaning and supplies company. 

The angle here is reasonably smart: Cintas are reminding people, at a time when gym membership is at its peak for the year, to look out for anything that might be considered low standards of hygiene at the gym… which would inevitably result in more people spotting and reporting anything which transgresses rules of cleanliness… which in turn leads to more calls to Cintas as gyms act on reports of poor hygiene.

“Women worry too much about their weight!” says yoghurt firm marketed as ‘rewards’ not ‘resolutions’

Fed up of your New Year’s diet? You’re not alone, according to the Daily Mail who reported:

Women dread getting on the scales in January more than being DUMPED, with a THIRD saying weighing themselves is their greatest fear
– A third claim that it’s their greatest fear in January whereas only 12% dread a relationship break-up

Everyone partakes in a little overindulgence over Christmas but it seems that the aftermath of festive feasting is really taking its toll on women.

According to the latest research, the thought of stepping on the scales after the Christmas splurge is feared more by women than being dumped. 

Almost a third claim that it’s their greatest fear in January whereas only 12 per cent dread a relationship break-up.

Source: Daily Mail, 8 January 2013

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Women, it seems, are so traumatised by fretting over their weight they’d rather see their relationship go up in smoke than tackle the bathroom scales, with 12% saying they fear a break-up, compared to a third who fear the scales. 

Of course, if the question is ‘which do you fear most – finding out you’re overweight or your lover leaving you’, the numbers could just as easily reflect how many women are confident and secure in their relationships, and therefore have no cause to fear a break-up any time soon.

In fact, the article clearly states that stepping onto the scales was only the second biggest fear, with a trip to the dentist as first – which means, if this were not a PR-driven story, the headline ought to read: ‘Women would rather be dumped than go to the dentist’. But, of course, there’s no angle in reporting that way, for the people who paid for the survey:

Laura Graham from Onken, who carried out the research, said: ‘We need to let our hair down this January and not let the pressure of resolutions get to us. 

‘With more women fearing stepping on the scales this New Year than being dumped, it goes to show that the pressure of facing their New Year’s demons is getting to the nation more than ever!’

This is really, then, just an advert for Onken, who are saying to all the girls out there, ‘Hey! Relax, you! No need to worry about all those stressful things, let’s just enjoy life, right?’. We know they’re saying this, because their current campaign – which the results of this ‘research’ were fitted-up to support – says exactly that:

Because 2012 is all about rewards, not resolutions!

Source: Onken.co.uk

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It’s even all over their Facebook page, too:

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This ‘don’t worry about the diet, enjoy yourself’ approach is no accident, it’s a very overt and specific marketing tactic to distinguish Onken yoghurts from a range of health-focused competitors. In the industry, it’s similar to ‘value selling’ – essentially if your brand can’t necessarily compete on traditional competitive points (such as lowest price, or healthiest product), you sell your brand as having alternative benefits that make it worth buying in spite of the seeming inability to compete. Because you’re worth it.

“Good-looking men style their hair!” says hair-styling product manufacturer

Did you know, celebrity men who are considered to be good-looking are sometimes emulated by other men who’d like to be considered good-looking too? Of course you did, you’re not an idiot. Still, it’s a startling and interesting enough revelation to make both the Daily Express and the Daily Mail:

DAVID BECKHAM HEADS STAMPEDE FOR A NEW HAIRDO

HE seems to change his hairstyle almost as often as wife Victoria changes her dresses.

And whenever David Beckham adopts a new look, thousands of men race to follow suit, according to a new survey.

Source: Daily Express, 9 January 2013

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Beckham is top of the crops! David’s is the hair most UK men envy (while Gary Barlow beats Robert Pattinson into second place)
– Beckham’s ever-changing style won him most fans
– Average British man changes hairstyle only four times during his life…
– ….but spends 24 minutes grooming locks before a night out
– Essex men most likely to check hair EVERY time they see a mirror

He’s had more hair styles than Imelda Marcos has shoes.

And the men of Britain, it seems, have loved them all.

Football star David Beckham has the hairstyle that most men are dying to emulate, a new study has revealed.

Source: Daily Mail, 9 January 2013

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Besides the chance to put a nice big photo of David Beckham into the press – something any tabloid will reliably jump at, even Nathan Rao of the Express (who I imagine contributed barely a word to this story) – what do we have here? We’ve learnt that although David changes his hairstyle often, most British men rarely change it throughout their lives… which means they should really focus on getting it right, I imagine, even if that includes, say, spending money on expensive haircare products:

The father-of-four, 37, beat Take That frontman Gary Barlow – who came second – and Twilight star Robert Pattinson – who nabbed third place – to the top spot of a survey carried out by hair brand Fudge.

What’s more, buying Fudge products can do more for we men than simply bettering our barnets – there are a whole range of important, tangible and entirely-unbiased benefits to buying these products to emulate our heroes, as their spokesman explains:

John Vial, Creative Director for Fudge, said: ‘From Kevin Keegan’s perm to George Best’s sideburns, footballers have always been powerful when it comes to influencing the hair styles of the nation’s men.

‘It’s no surprise that David Beckham is the modern man’s hairstyle icon, his versatile styles are ultimately achievable by the man on the street.

‘The man of the moment’s influence on the hair of the nation confirms that when a sportsman endorses something, it automatically makes it more masculine and ultimately, desirable.’
So, it’s settled: in order to feel more masculine and desirable, we simply have to spend more time – and money – on our hair. Thank you, Fudge!

“People are useless in the morning… sort of a bit like zombies!” says makers of zombie game

Women: are you significantly grumpier in the morning than your menfolk? Do you find it hard to stop yourself being an absolute monster before, say, 8am? Yes you do! At least, according to the Daily Express:

GRRR POWER! WOMEN WAKE UP GRUMPIEST

No doubt plenty of wives and girlfriends would disagree, but a survey claims women are grumpier in the morning than men.

It also says men get up earlier, hit the ground running and are more on the ball when they arrive at work.

The proof? Well, more women said they had been accused by work colleagues of “being in a strop” first thing in the morning.

More than half of the 2,000 adults quizzed said they cannot bear to talk to anyone until at least 8am – over an hour after the average wake-up time of 6.49am.

Source: Daily Express, 7 January 2013

Fortunately, help is at hand, because there’s a very very good chance that this is absolute codswallop. In fact, it’s an incredibly shoehorned piece of PR, which runs thusly: people find it hard to get up in the morning, and that means when they do get up they can be tired, irritable and unsociable for a while, and can sometimes not really be aware of what’s going on… tired, unsociable, irritable and unaware in the same way a zombie kinda, sorta is… says…

The survey by the makers of the Zombie Underground game app also found that almost a third dodge conversation with their colleagues first thing in their morning, while a fifth even ignore their children.

Zombie Underground, for those who aren’t aware, is a game which is set in the London Underground, which perhaps explains the vast distance one has to travel between the content of this article in the Express and the product it’s promoting. 

In fact, the ‘research’ the article cites was conducted through 72 Point’s polling arm OnePoll, who merrily display the full press release on their website:

In fact, putting the press release into Churnalism.com, it’s clear that an article based on exactly the same source copy appeared in the Daily Mail back in November, albeit without the additional angle expressing how much worse women are than men:

The grumps who can’t bear to chat before 8am: Nearly half of adults avoid talking to anyone for first hour after they wake up

You may be one yourself, or you may live or work with one… the grumps who cannot bear to talk to anyone first thing in the morning.

Now a survey of 2,000 Britons has found that after waking up at an average time of 6.49am, it’s another hour and 15 minutes before the grumps feel up to  having a conversation.

So, it’s not until around 8am that anyone should dare say a word to them.

Source: Daily Mail, 26 November 2012

It’s worth noting that a quick check on Churnalism.com shows that both the Mail and the Express story replicate over 70% of the copy from the press release:

So, despite contributing less than 30% of the copy in the final article, Eleanore Robinson from the Express still felt happy to put her name on story. Perhaps she put it together early in the morning, and wasn’t really with it just yet…