Monthly Archives: June 2013

“Smartphones are replacing photo albums!” says smartphone manufacturer

The digital age comes with many advances, and just as many outmoded technologies left to fall by the wayside. Take, for instance, recent reports from the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Metro that the once-cherished family photo album is becoming a thing of the past:

Family albums fade as the young put only themselves in picture

Traditional photo albums are dying out as young people now take more pictures of themselves than friends and family, a survey suggests.

So-called “selfies”, where the photographer takes photos of themselves by holding their camera at arm’s length, have become the most popular image captured by young people.

They now account for 30 per cent of pictures taken by those aged 18-24, with men taking more photos of themselves than women, according to the poll.

Consequently, two-thirds of Britons now eschew displaying their photos in old-fashioned albums and prefer to catalogue their pictures on computers, tablets or smartphones instead.

Source: Telegraph, 17th June 2013

Digital, it seems, is king – with the once-loved practice of slipping printed photos into plastic wallets in increasingly-dusty family photo albums now long dead. Instead, photos are near-exclusively saved to online repositories like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with access to those sites – and the smartphone technology to make the most of them – crucial in the modern world. 

Just a third of those questioned said they still displayed images using an old-fashioned book, while 53 per cent claimed they preferred to use Facebook and only 13 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they had ever used an album.

Around one in five people take photos with the intention of posting them on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, with 10 per cent of those polled saying their snaps were uploaded onto a website in less than a 60 seconds after they had been shot on a smartphone.

Or, at least, so says a survey by smartphone manufacturers Samsung:

“The growing trend in sharing photography online is also resulting in the death of the photo album,” said Samsung, which analysed the responses of 3,000 people collected by OnePoll.

While it’s undoubtedly true that the taking and sharing of pictures has moved almost exclusively online, it’s hard to see Samsung’s role in informing the world of this fact as anything other than self-serving market positioning and glorified advertising, as featured in at least three  national newspapers. 

“Modern life can be expensive!” says cashback website

For all the office workers out there wondering where the hole in their pocket came from, recent ‘research’ published in the Express, the Daily Mail, the Star, the Mirror and the Telegraph might hold the answer:

A sixth of your wages are spent at work: Commuting, lunches and office birthdays see average worker spend £263 a month

The average worker spends almost a sixth of his wages on commuting, lunches and office birthdays, a study revealed yesterday.

Some £263 of the average monthly take-home pay of £1,543 is swallowed by work-related costs.

Office clothes, sponsorship whip-rounds and expenses that are either unclaimed or denied add to a yearly tally of almost £3,158, research found.

It also emerged that nearly a quarter of Brits have had to quit a job because they couldn’t afford the cost to commute and work there.

Source: Daily Mail, 24th June 2013

Top quality journalism from the Daily Mail’s very own top journalist ‘Daily Mail Recipe’. Presumably the newspaper meant to attribute the story to their prolific ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ – their synonym for ‘we got this story from somewhere else’. It’s tough copy/pasting press releases these days, you simply can’t get the staff.

Nevertheless, in this recession such spiralling – if true – costs could mean the difference between the breadline and the lap of luxury, so it’s encouraging that this research can help us locate those missing pennies.

Less encouraging, however, is that the research was commissioned by not-entirely-impartial discount-voucher-website Quidco, via prolific pollsters OnePoll (who recently had a few fun words to share about this very blogger). 

Breaking the fourth wall, Andy Oldham – Managing Director from Quidco – explained why they paid to have this research find such useful findings:

“When considering a new job, most people will consider a commute cost, but fail to factor in items such as clothing, lunch, teas and coffees and the odd whip round. All of these soon add up.

“Those struggling with the cost of work, should consider using discount codes and vouchers to buy lunch.

“Buying your work wardrobe though a cashback site like ours, will also see more people reunited with hard-earned cash, as we return the sale commissions from our 3,500 retailers, back to the shopper.”

Of  course, this is absolutely well-done and credible research, and it’s pure coincidence that it leads to so neat and clear a marketing statement from the company who funded it…

“Old age is stalking you like a hungry wolf!” says life insurance provider

Old age is slowly but surely, not to mention inescapably, coming for us all – trust me, I know, with my 30th birthday only a few months away. Don’t worry, I’m not panicking, by the time I’m 30 we’ll have cured the ageing process and we’ll all be happily flying round in our jetpacks and double-ties. So I’m fine. But what about the rest of you – just how old are you all feeling?

New ‘research’ published literally everywhere – such as the Express, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Metro and even BBC 4’s The Now Show – reveals just how old and decrepit we all are:

Don’t spill sherry, it’s one of 40 signs you’re getting old

DO you groan when bending down, use the phrase “in my day” or have switched from Radio 1 to Radio 2? Then you’ve got to face it, you’re getting old.

Falling asleep in front of the TV is a sure sign of getting old

Although most people agree there is no set figure that defines old age, certain habits and opinions identify a person as getting on in years.

In a survey of 2,000 people, the 40 most common pointers included taking your slippers to visit a friend’s house and using phrases such as: “It wasn’t like that when I was young.”

Other tell-tale signs were developing a love of sherry, taking a flask of tea on days out and falling asleep in front of the television.

Source: The Express, 18th June 2013

It seems, then, that an awful lot of things we would stereotypically attribute to ‘old people’ – such as drinking sherry, watching the Archers and driving slowly – really genuinely are signs that the shadowy hand of the reaper grows ever nearer. This would be quite a sobering thought, if it weren’t equally plausible that the research instead picked up on what we assume ‘old’ people do, based on the very stereotypes that are reinforced by articles such as these.

Other entries in the list were particularly obvious examples of this effect:

15. Discovering you have no idea what young people are talking about.

This is a textbook example of ‘begging the question’: of course someone who has no idea what ‘young’ people are talking about must be ‘old’ – if they weren’t old, they wouldn’t be able to label the former group as young.

Equally, it’s worth bearing in mind that this list was almost certainly given to participants in the survey who then had to rank which ones they felt were real signs of old age – rather than being a representative sample of responses freely offered by participants. It’s essentially a case of stacking the deck – by asking people to choose from a discrete list you yourself have chosen, with no real opportunity to offer their own suggestions in any meaningful way, you can easily produce exactly the kind of stereotype-friendly and media-pleasing list you need to support your client… who, in this case, is life insurance firm Engage Mutual:

Kathryn McLaughlin, of life insurance specialists Engage Mutual, which conducted the survey, said: “What is interesting is the general expectation across age groups that someone in the ‘older’ bracket will look and behave in a particular way. But with an ageing population, and working beyond retirement age becoming the norm, the reality is that many older people are challenging the ‘pipe and slippers’ stereotype.”

Eight out of 10 people in the survey believed you are only as old as you feel while 76 per cent intend to enjoy their youth for as long as possible. However, more than half were worried about getting old, losing memory, becoming ill and deteriorating physically.

Which, if you ask me, sounds like the kind of thing you should take out life insurance to protect yourself from… wait a minute! Sneaky, Kathryn McLaughlin of Engage Mutual life insurance, sneaky!

Odder still is the fact that Engage Mutual published the exact same story back in 2011 (as featured in the Daily Mail and the Mirror, amongst others), with almost identical entries in their top 50 list, many of which expressed in identical terms – further confirming that these reflect not the open responses of the survey takers, but the desired answers of the survey makers.

Perhaps they didn’t realise that constantly repeating yourself is a sign of old age…

“People get naked on holiday!” says online holiday firm

Are you looking forward to your beach holiday this Summer? If so, ‘research’ from the Telegraph suggests you may want to pack a little lighter for your holiday abroad this year:

Britons more likely to sunbathe nude abroad than at home

British holidaymakers are more willing to use nudist beaches abroad than on home shores, new research suggests.

One in five Britons are happy to strip off at a nude beach during a holiday abroad while just one in 20 would go to a nudist beach in Britain, according to a survey by the online travel agent On the Beach.

Men were found to be more keen to bare it all than women, with one in three men wiling to use a naturist beach abroad and 10 per cent happy to go clothes-free on Britain’s nudist beaches. Women seemed to be more reserved, with only 12 per cent willing to head to a nudist beach on foreign shores and a mere two per cent saying they would strip off on a beach in Britain.

Source: Telegraph, 19th June 2013

While it may or may not be true that people have an increasingly relaxed and comfortably attitude to the naked form, what’s undeniably true is that this story is simply an attempt by online travel agent On The Beach to use the ever-eyecatching subject of nudity to hit the headlines and convince consumers to use their services to head off to foreign shores:

When on holiday, people often feel more audacious, confident in the knowledge they won’t bump into neighbours, colleagues or old friends,” said Alistair Daly, Chief Marketing Officer at On the Beach.

“The weather could also have an effect on the willingness to strip off, as the chances of sporting obvious and irritating tan lines are somewhat lower after a day spent sunbathing in the mild UK temperatures compared to the scorching summers in the Mediterranean,” he added.

Still, despite being a PR poll we can at least be pleased that the story was following on from previous legitimate research:

A poll earlier this month also revealed that only one per cent of Britons were annoyed by nudity on the beach, with loud music, insects, noisy children and dogs said to be more irritating on a beach than nudity. Bare bodies were placed as the tenth biggest bugbear on a beach.

The poll in question? This one, also from the Telegraph:

British no longer prudes on the beach

The British are no longer a nation of prudes when it comes to nude sunbathing, a poll has found.

A survey asked 16,500 travellers what annoyed them most when relaxing on the beach and, from a range of options, nudity received just one per cent of the vote. That meant bare bodies were the tenth most irritating situation to encounter on the beach.

Beach sellers who cut into important tanning time were actually what annoyed British holidaymakers the most, according to 21 per cent of respondents.

Source: Telegraph, 6th June 2013

The originators of the previous poll?

The survey was conducted by online travel agent On the Beach (onthebeach.co.uk).

Alistair Daly, chief marketing officer at On the Beach, said: “We are renowned as a nation of prudes, especially compared to some of our more liberal European neighbours, however our results show that Britons are no longer offended by nudity, so it would seem this stereotype is somewhat obsolete.”

Nonsense built on nonsense, then.

“People today really hate how they look!” says plastic surgery firm

How insecure are you about your looks? If the answer is ‘not very’: congratulations, you’re not the butt of this next Bad PR story. We’re specifically looking at you people for whom self esteem does not come easily, and for whom exploitation by a cynical industry might:

Insecure Britain: A quarter of us NEVER feel good about ourselves … and weight, parenting and bills are the biggest factors bringing us down 

In a disturbing glimpse of the country’s mood, it seems a quarter of Britons never feel good about themselves and are riddled by insecurities.

New research reveals that the country seriously lacks confidence with our appearance, our ability to parent, and basic tasks like paying bills correctly all causing us anxiety.

A survey of 2,033 respondents revealed that for over a quarter, facing themselves in the mirror ranked highest in terms of situations where confidence escaped them, with 33 per cent saying their body is the thing they would most like to change to improve their self-assurance.

Source: Daily Mail, 29th May 2013

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It’s a disturbing glimpse indeed – if true. However, if this transpires to be, say, a cosmetic surgery company touting for business by making the nation feel terrible about themselves – well, it’s less a disturbing glimpse, and more a cynical advertising ploy dressed as news.

Speaking of which, here’s an infographic and press release put out by Transform Cosmetic Surgery:

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It seems I’m not the only one who spotted the press release and infographic put out by Transform, with the more positive aspects of the release forming a wave of local and national coverage declaring various cities to be among the happiest in the country:

Top 10 happiest cities in the UK revealed

Sheffield residents have something to smile about after their city was crowned the happiest place to live in the UK.

A third of people from the city of steel said they feel good every single day of the week in a new happiness study by Transform Cosmetic Surgery Group (TCSG).

The Scottish capital of Edinburgh came a close second, followed by the Sussex seaside town of Brighton in third.

Source: Metro, 29th May 2013

It’s not so grim up North: Sheffield is the happiest city in Britain (and it’s all because they have more sex there) 

Sheffield has topped a list of Britain’s happiest cities – with a third of the population saying they wake up with a smile on their face every day.

Tellingly, those polled ranked sex highly on the list of factors that keep them feeling upbeat, along with doing good deeds for others, spending time with family and being given a compliment.

The South Yorkshire steel centre beat southern spots including London, Bristol and popular seaside resort Brighton to the number one position.

Source: Daily Mail, 31st May 2013

Of course, even the positive (and needlessly sex-referencing) stories need to carry the brand message, which is why tucked away in the Mail coverage is this necessarily negative nugget:

But the study also revealed a quarter of Britons never feel good about themselves. When asked to state the situation most likely to make them lose their confidence, over 25 per cent said looking at their own reflection.

Because, as we all know, it isn’t happiness and contentment which sends people to a cosmetic surgeon, and Transform don’t want to have wasted their money getting this non-story into the news without seeing a decent return on investment, even if that means painting an unhelpful and inaccurately-negative view of the world in the process.

“Washing machines are too complicated for silly men!” says sexist washing maching manufacturer

Have you ever noticed how useless men are at working a washing machine, or how they can’t fathom how to work a hoover, or how even ensuring they figure out how to cover their caveman bodies with rudimentary fabrics each day can be considered a remarkable achievement given their inherent lack of any kind of intelligence? 

If so, you’re not alone, as was ably demonstrated in the news this week:

Half of men can’t use a washing machine properly and a quarter can’t even figure out how to switch it on

News has come in which may not come as a surprise to women used to hearing every excuse under the sun.

A new study now reveals more than half (58 per cent) of British men ‘can’t use a washing machine properly’ because they find the household appliance ‘confusing’.

What’s more, a quarter of women (25 per cent) admit their partner cannot work the washing machine at all.

According to the research 16 to 24 year olds are most reluctant to do their own laundry, the most popular excuse being not knowing what buttons to press (40 per cent).

Source: Daily Mail, 12th June 2013

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If you were in any doubt at how hapless and useless men are, just look at the photo, with the poor Theo Walcott lookalike not even smart enough to figure out that the clothes go IN the machine, not just ON it. Those poor confused, ‘feeble’ creatures, it’s a wonder they haven’t died of their own hapless idiocy yet – it’s a good job, frankly, that there are women-folk, media outlets and commercial corporations to take pity on them and hold their hands through this whole complex and baffling modern life. Commercial corporations who sell washing machines, in fact:

Ian Moverley, of household appliance manufacturer Indesit who conducted the survey, said: ‘Our study found many people in the UK are confused by their washing machines.

‘Typical excuses about ‘not knowing what buttons to press’ will be a thing of the past with the world’s first socially powered laundry service.’

So it transpires that the company wishing to tell the world that men are useless, hapless and feckless idiots is a washing machine manufacturer, looking to launch ‘socially powered laundry’. You might wonder what ‘socially powered laundry’ is – the answer is simple:

The laundry scheme, named ‘Push and Wash’, will offer Brits the chance to have their laundry collected, washed and handed back to them clean the next day.

Twitter users can register their interest for the service by messaging @IndesitUK on the social media service with the hashtag ‘pushandwash’.

Or, in summary, it’s generic marketing bullshit. Still, there’s one great thing about the #pushandwash campaign, and the sexist marketing Indesit use to sell it – you get to tweet them and tell them how interested you are in their campaign. You might, for example, want to ask them where the evidence is that men are so useless, and how they conducted their research, and what questions they used, and what their methodology was. You might want to ask them where their data is, as I did:

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Or you might want to explain to them that writing off an entire gender as useless and moronic might not be the most effective marketing strategy.

Remember – they want to hear what you think. @IndesitUK and #pushandwash.

“People spend too much money on their holiday clothes!” says discount clothing retailer

Are you planning your Summer holiday any time soon? Chances are, you are – and the PR  machine knows this. Which is why an article in the Daily Mail’s Money section recently explored the financial implications of jetting off into the Summer sun:

The summer holiday throwaway: British sunseekers waste £83 on clothes that are never used again

The average UK holidaymakers will waste £83 buying clothes for their summer holiday that they never wear again, a new survey has claimed.

Men are the worst offenders, wasting £100 on summer outfits they never wear compared with just £67 by women, according to research by retailer TK Maxx.

The survey, which looked at 2,000 people across the UK, said the average person spends £83 on summer clothing that never ends up in the suit case a second time.

Source: Daily Mail, 6th June 2013

That wouldn’t be the same TK Maxx which prides itself on selling the top brands at rock bottom prices, cynically advertising their low prices to the holidaymaker-market just in time to catch people refreshing their Summer wardrobe, would it?

“It’s hot out there!” says discount voucher website reminding you they exist

With the change in the weather signalling an end to my self-imposed Bad PR hiatus, it seems fitting to highlight just how the scorching June sun has affected we poor pasty Brits – in fact, according to ‘researchers’, the moment temperatures rise a little, we’re far from pleased:

Apparently we’re happiest when it’s 23.5C (so we probably won’t like that it’s going to reach 25C this weekend)

While millions of us may dream of a few days in the Mediterranean heat, the reality is that we like our weather a little more on the mild side.

Researchers have found that the average Briton’s ideal summer temperature is a moderately warm 23.5C (74F) – so today’s weather should keep most of us happy.

Forecasters say the mercury could hit 24C (75F) in the South, making it the hottest day of the year so far.

And the sunny, dry conditions are predicted to last well into the weekend.

Source: Daily Mail, 6th June 2013

Who commissioned the research, and gave the picture desks at the Daily Mail and Daily Star a bikini-field-day?

According to the poll of 340 adults, Londoners had the highest heat threshold with the average Londoner being content with a temperature of 24.7C.

A spokesman for online discount shopping site PromotionalCodes.org.uk, which commissioned the poll, said: ‘One of our favourite pastimes as a nation is to moan about the weather no matter how hot or cold it is.

‘For many, it is either too wet or too dry so it was interesting to find a temperature which everyone would be happy with.

Not only was this a PR poll for an online voucher company, it featured just 340 participants – which even by Bad PR standards is dismal – yet not so dismal that the Daily Mail and Daily Star turned it down.

It’s enough to leave one cold.