Monthly Archives: May 2014

“Brits need to lose weight!” says weight-loss website

Piling on the pounds! Brits are a whole lot heavier than they were last year.

BRITS are a whole 5lbs heavier than they were this time last year, a new study has shown.

Due to stressful schedules and new relationships, the nation is piling on the pounds like never before.

The figures show that if we Brits continue to gain weight at the current rate it will mean putting on 2st over the next five years!

Source: Daily Star, 17 April 2014

Who can we thank for the spurious finding that we, as a nation, are each half a stone heavier than the same time in 2013?

The survey was conducted online by www.UKMedix.com, as part of the company’s wider research into annual weight change and management, after the team noticed a substantial increase in searches for weight loss supplements year on year.

UKMedix being a website which sells dubious weightloss products, naturally.

Sarah Bailey, from UKMedix.com, said: “Unfortunately, we have already been warned that we are getting heavier year on year, so the fact that we are gaining weight is no surprise.

“Whilst stressful schedules and having babies are understandable reasons for weight gain, it’s important to keep things under control and get back on track before a gain gets out of hand,” added Ms Bailey.

“Not only is it critical to self-confidence and health, it’s also important to set a good example for family and friends.”

Unbiased advice there, from a dietary supplement pusher who thinks you’re piling on the pounds.

“Why don’t you watch your partner pee?” asks creepy bathroom retailer

Flushed! Couples LOO embarrassed to visit toilet in front of each other

NEARLY half of all couples in a long-term relationship refuse to use the toilet in front of their partner.

Participants in a recent survey blamed simple embarrassment on their unwillingness to answer the call of nature in front of their loved one.

Women were revealed as more coy than their fellas with 67 per cent of men not being fussed about going to the loo with their lady in the room.

Over half of the 1,881 UK people surveyed said they waited between six months to a year before unveiling their toilet habits but a plucky 17 per cent said they did so “practically straight away”.

Source: Daily Star, 30 April 2014

In case you’re wondering why the peeing and voyeuring habits of yourself and your partner are being questioned in a national newspaper, here’s a spokseman from the company who thought this would be a totally normal way to get positive national coverage:

Peter Gregg, Director of ukBathrooms.com said: “Toilet habits are often a cause of embarrassment.

“The image of the perfect English rose can be rocked a little by the call of nature!

“But surely in a long term relationship, people should know each other well enough to be comfortable in almost any situation?”

So, the next time you think of peeing in front of you partner, think of Peter Gregg and ukBathrooms.com.

“People would love/fear/fuck a robot!” says TV show about robots

Did you see the story about mankind’s fear of the impending rise of the robots? Chances are you did, with widespread coverage of the story including appearances in the GuardianTimesDaily Mail and Daily Star:

Humans hope robots of the future will make love not war

A fifth of Britons have said they would have sex with an android but considerably more fear the rise of the machines will threaten mankind.

One in three, perhaps influenced by the likes of the Terminator franchise, believe that robots will spell the end of the human race.

Perhaps more pressing however is that almost as many are concerned they could lose their job to intelligent machines.

Source: The Times, 6 May 2014

Would YOU have sex with a robot? Prostitutes, police and cleaners revealed to be just some the jobs that droids could take over by 2025

In 10 years our streets could be governed by RoboCop-style police, our taxis may drive themselves and prostitutes might be replaced by so-called ‘sexbots.’

That’s according to a survey that looked at how robots will rise over the next decade.

It found that more than a third of people fear robots will take their jobs, while the same number fear androids will threaten the human race’s existence.

Source: Daily Mail, 6 April 2014

The Times and the Daily Mail, amply illustrating their differing priorities, there. However, whether we’re fighting or fucking our new robot brethren, the source of the story remains the same:

The survey was completed by 2,000 British people to mark the launch of new sci-fi TV police drama, Almost Human, which features an android cop.

Curiously, the list of jobs which could be taken over by robots didn’t include ‘journalist’ – when given the number of outlets who ran this simple copy/paste of a One Poll survey press release, it seems an industry ripe for automation.

“Biscuits are better than beer, sex, sexy beer and beery sex!” says biscuit maker

May 29th was ‘National Biscuit Day’, If you’re wondering why that’s even a thing – don’t worry, it isn’t. As is almost always the case we these national day/week/month/millenia tales, the whole exercise is nothing more than an excuse to peg product-laden stories into the press under the auspices of topicality. Take this effort, featured in the Daily Express:

Fancy a beer? We’d prefer a biscuit! McVitie’s survey reveals Britain’s love for treats

THE great British biscuit is a vital part of our national lifestyle, a survey reveals.

Most people eat an average of two a day.

And nearly every British household – 99.2 per cent – buys biscuits during the course of a year.

Even young people love a rich tea or a digestive with a cuppa so much that the study of 2,000 people reveals 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds prefer a biscuit to a glass of wine or a pint of beer.

Source: Express, 30 May 2014

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Preferring a biscuit over a beer might sound an unlikely choice – although, that said, a real ale doesn’t dunk quite as well as a digestive. Fortunately, the Express’s Nathan Rao (who likely contributed barely a word to this pr-driven story) has the weight of academia behind the claims in his article:

Food scientist Dr Stuart Farrimond said eating biscuits with a cup of tea makes them taste better.

He said: “The science shows us that hot drinks enhance the natural ­flavours of the biscuit because more flavour molecules are released in the mouth when the biscuit is warmed and moistened.

“In Britain, biscuits have a particular cultural significance and are a customary part of the mid-morning tea break.

“Research has shown that of all foods, biscuits and chocolate are among those that trigger the most pleasure and excitement.”

Of course, the bought-in academic isn’t the only talking head in the article – we also hear from the spokesperson for the company who paid for the spurious survey behind this story, and behind National Biscuit Day:

The research by maker McVitie’s found our choice of biscuit changes depending on our mood.

McVitie’s spokesman Sarah Heynen said: “There’s no doubt that we’re a nation of biscuit lovers.

“We know that our biscuits have a surprisingly important place in people’s lives – people relate to them in a very emotional way.”

That said, toppling a tipple wasn’t the most audacious claim McVities made for their fare during National Biscuit Day – that honour goes to the following, in the Mirror:

No sex please – we prefer biscuits! One in six Britons choose a Hobnob over nookie

Research to mark National Biscuit Day on Thursday also found that a quarter of us would give up booze instead of going without a Chocolate Digestive or two

Biscuit-mad Brits would give up sex for a packet of their favourite dunking snacks, a study has revealed.

One in six would rather have a Hobnob than nookie and a quarter would give up booze instead of going without a Chocolate Digestive or two.

Source: Mirror, 28 May 2014

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Perhaps fittingly, the Mirror ran their own in-page poll on what their readers would rather do – ‘Have loads of sex’ or ‘Eat loads of biscuits’, with results somewhat crumbling the McVities PR claims:

Poll - Q: What would YOU rather do?  A1: Have loads of sex = 64%; A2: Eat loads of biscuits = 36%.

Still, given the unequivocal nature of the question and the lack of pretence of being representative and bias-free, we can probably place more stock in the Mirror’s straw poll than in McVities’ original opinion survey and ensuing PR campaign.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dunk a HobNob in a Hobgoblin.

“Men: A nice gift will win her heart! (Girls: You should use sex!)” says gift website

While British men use flowers to win back an ex British women prefer to use SEX

More than half of people in the UK have attempted to win back a former partner by buying them a gift of some sort.

And nearly two thirds of those (62 per cent) said it worked a treat in rekindling a romantic relationship.

It’s mostly men who prefer to use this tactic, with 41 per cent of those polled choosing the gift of flowers. Three-quarters of women, on the other hand, have ditched the idea of a gift and instead used sex in an attempt to get back with their ex partner.

Source: Daily Mail, 29 May 2014

"Men: A nice gift will win her heart! (Girls: You should use sex!)" says gift website

The message here is clear: if you’re trying to win back the love of your life, men need to be sure to buy presents, whereas women need to remember that that’s what sex (or, rather, SEX) is for.

That’s quite a nest of ugly gender stereotyping and expectations to unpick, and we’re barely past paragraph three. Suffice it to say, men are much more than walking wallets, and women have much more to offer to the world than simply being sex objects. Moving on…

Researchers polled a total of 1,927 people, aged 18 and over, split evenly between the sexes.

All participants taking part in the research by findmeagift.co.uk had admitted to having previous long-term relationships and then subsequently attempted to win their ex-partners back.

The motivation for convincing people (primarily men, in this case) that the right gift can win back the love of your life is clear – the story was paid for by gift ideas website ‘findmeagift.co.uk’, with the URL right there in the page.

findagift-29052014-findmeagift

Interestingly, the link to the gift website is active within the Mail page, but upon inspection it’s clear the link doesn’t take you directly to the gift site. Instead, the full link looks like this:

http://gotolink.dailymail.co.uk/?id=55199X1316327&site=dailymail.co.uk/femail&xs=1&isjs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffindmeagift.co.uk%2F&xguid=7894d7101726d4b3397b7fc8c77382db&xcreo=500005&xed=0&sref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailymail.co.uk%2Ffemail%2Farticle-2642783%2FWhile-British-men-use-flowers-win-ex-British-women-prefer-use-SEX.html%3FITO%3D1490%26ns_mchannel%3Drss%26ns_campaign%3D1490&xtz=-60&abp=1

In fact, clicking the link (please don’t – my click was enough) takes you first momentarily to another site, before redirecting to the gift-finding site. Here is the address of the intermediary site (click to expand):

findagift-29052014-affiliate

The site momentarily linked to is an affiliate marketing site called Affiliate Future, which records the source of traffic to a website and rewards that source with a cut of the profit made from the traffic directed to the final website.

findagift-29052014-affiliatefuture

So, has the Daily Mail moved beyond simply printing press releases as news to actually profiting as an affiliate marketer? What is certain is that the Mail’s website is signed up to a service called Skimlinks – a program which replaces text mentions of certain listed sites with a profit-making affiliate replacement link. It is this site – commonly used by large publishers such as the Mail, Telegraph and Huffington Post – which included the affiliate link, and which the Mail then makes a profit from.

Ordinarily, websites will profit from each organic mention in the news of a particular vendor’s website – the ethics of which you’re free to judge for yourselves.

However, this article clearly wasn’t an ‘organic’ mention – it was almost certaionly a PR-led reprint of a press release, designed at publishing the web address of findmeagift.co.uk in the mainstream press. This wasn’t news. In fact, had the Daily Mail not made the decision to publish this glorified advert, the website would never have gotten a mention, and the Daily Mail would never have made their profit from the link.

Even though the numbers involved are small, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a clear subversion of the purpose of a newspaper: the Daily Mail clearly printed PR content for a direct financial gain. Whether done knowingly or unknowingly, it’s both fascinating and damning in equal measure.

“You know you want to go on holiday… go on!” says travel insurers

Single tickets please as more holidaymakers leave partners at home

Forget romantic walks along tropical beaches or candle-lit suppers in European capitals. More and more British holidaymakers are opting for “me time” and going away without their partner, according to a new survey.

The gifted but solitary British psychiatrist Anthony Storr famously told his patients that “the capacity to be alone is necessary if the brain is to function at its best”, echoing the old cliché that “time apart” is crucial in forging a happy and lasting relationship.

It’s advice the holiday-going public are obviously taking to heart with “solo breaks” becoming the escape of choice for 27 per cent of people, who admitted they ditched their lovers for solo trips or holidays with friends last year, compared to just 10 per cent a decade ago.

Source: Independent, 30 May 2014

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Bye, dear… I’m off on holiday: More people than ever choosing to take a break without their partner

More people are opting for ‘me time’ by choosing to take trips without their partner, according to survey.

In the past year as many as 27 per cent of those in a relationship went away without their partner, the poll found.

Ten years ago, just 10 per cent admitted having a holiday without their partner.

Source: Daily Mail, 29 May 2014

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Who is behind this story advocating solo holidays and leaving your loved ones at home? A travel insurance company, simply aiming for some column inches:

Selwyn Fernandes, the managing director of LV= travel insurance, which commissioned the research, said: ‘The way we travel has fundamentally changed in recent years with people going away more frequently and taking part in a wider range of activities.’

 

“Life begins at 45!” says dating site for over 40s

‘Life begins at 45’ when people are most content

Poll suggests middle aged are more content with life and secure in their relationships than younger people

It is a claim which has long offered solace to those facing the onset of middle age but new research suggests those pinning their hopes on the promise that life begins at 40 might have to wait at least another five years.

Polling found that those over the age of 45 are more content with life, happier in their relationships and feel more in touch with the world than their younger counterparts.

Source: Telegraph, 1 May 2014

Life begins at 45! How middle-aged people surrounded by family and friends are the happiest in Britain

Life might begin at 40 – but it seems those aged over 45 are the ones who really enjoy themselves.

According to a new survey, those in the middle-aged category are the happiest people in Britain.

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, those over 45 – dubbed by researchers as the mid-life risers – came out on top, in part due to strong relationships with family and friends.

Source: Daily Mail, 1 May 2014

Good news for my post-40 readers: life is about to get very exciting and rosy for you, if it hasn’t already! While a number of reasons are cited in this particular piece of PR, the bonus happiness in relationships seems particularly key, given who paid for this story to appear in the news:

Samantha Bedford, from Love Begins At, said: ‘It’s great to look forward to life ahead with excitement – with the confidence and wherewithal to make the most of the opportunities available.

‘These mid-life risers are not about fading into grey. It’s about moving into a new stage of life, post-children and preparing to try something new. These over 45s are often moving into a new stage of their romantic life too.

‘Independent, confident and content looking, they’re no longer looking for the mother or father of their children but for a partner to enjoy life with.’

So, now that you’ve had your middle-aged ego boosted, why not go out there and bag yourself a new lover? Samantha’s ‘Love Begins At’ dating website for the over 40s is presumably where you’re meant to start.

“Insurance covers you for weird things happening!” says insurance company

What’s the strangest thing to ever have caused damage to your home? It’s unlikely your story can compete with those featured in the Daily StarDaily Mailand Telegraph recently:

‘A snail ate my carpet’ See some of the strangest successful insurance claims of all time

IF a badger has bashed your shed or a snail has eaten your carpet, why not try and make an insurance claim – you won’t be the first to.

Or if a deer falls in your swimming pool, you can earn money from that too.

Source: Daily Star, 23 April 2014

‘A badger ate my wall’ among successful insurance claims.

A badger that ate through a wall to escape after being locked in a shed and a dog which jumped into a television screen to find a mate are among a list of successful insurance claims filed by homeowners.

One man received more than £400 when he made a claim for a new laptop after his new baby grandson vomited over his computer as he attempted to show him off on Skype.

And in another incident insurers paid for repairs after a quick thinking squirrel smashed a window to get out of a garage owned by an 86-year-old woman in Exeter, where it had become trapped.

Animals and children were the most common causes in the list of strange claims.

However, nature, and bad luck, also played a part.

Source: Telegraph, 23 April 2014

The message is clear: you never know where the next source of danger is coming from. But don’t just take my word for it – there’s an industry spokesman backing me up:

Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS said: ‘While we go out of our way to ensure that our homes and gardens are safe and secure, sometimes it’s the most unlikely events that can end up causing real damage.

Who are RIAS, you might be wondering?

The list of bizarre insurance claims was compiled by specialist insurance provider RIAS from the almost 400,000 successful cases in 2012-13.

RIAS are the people telling you to ensure your house (with them) lest a rampaging army of badgers, deer and snails descend upon you and your territory. It’s real, they’re coming, and RIAS are apparently your only hope.

“Men turn into their fathers!” says TV channel promoting old comedies

Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you’ve embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father.

It’s a startling moment in any man’s life.

You’re sat on the sofa keenly scrutinising the money pages of the newspaper, looking forward to giving the lawn a good mowing and finding yourself unusually excited about an upcoming sale at B&Q, when it hits you (if you can keep your eyes open long enough): you’ve turned into your dad.

It’s enough to make you slip on your sensibly priced comfortable shoes and retreat to your man cave with a pint of bitter.

Source: Independent, 17 April 2014

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It seems all men are destined to become their fathers – it’s a message carried not only in the Independent, but also in the Daily MailDaily Express and Daily Star. With so many convergent sources, it must be true… or, just maybe, it might be PR for a TV channel running a ‘Dad Dancing’ competition:

Steve North, General Manager of UKTV channel Gold said: ‘The future looks bright for men, more sleep, having your very own chair, letting loose on the dance floor and finding ourselves funny – it seems 38 is the age men officially lose their inhibitions

Source: Daily Mail, 17 April 2014

And why the focus on getting old and turning into your father? The Daily Mail carries the crucial quote from North:

‘The best way to ward off the top dad-ism sign of falling asleep in the front room is by tuning into Gold’s Easter schedule featuring Only Fools and Horses, the Royle Family and the Vicar of Dibley.’

Embrace it, fellas – turn into your dad, and you can enjoy the same tired old sitcoms he was watching 20 years ago!

“Old people used to have silly names!” says ancestry research site

What’s that Mary, traditional names are dying out?

Cecil, Rowland and Willie have fallen so far out of favour that no one wants to use them for their child.

They are the names nobody wants.

Although Cecil, Rowland and Willie were once among the most popular names in Britain, they have fallen so far out of favour they have now became “extinct”.

Latest birth records show that not a single person was given any of the three names while girls’ names Bertha, Blodwen or Fanny are also extinct.

Source: Telegraph, 4 April 2014

Or, to put it in slightly more immature terms, here’s the Daily Star’s take on the tale:

Fanny and Willy (stop sniggering!) on the ‘extinct’ baby names list

FANNY and Willy are now deemed “extinct” as no one chose these baby names in recent years.

Old-fashioned boys’ names such as Cecil and Rowland, and girls’ names such as Blodwen and Gertrude have also fallen out of favour.

Research carried out by Ancestry.co.uk showed that no babies born in 2012 were registered with these names.

Source: Daily Star, 4 April 2014

OK, now, settle down at the back, there’s nothing remotely amusing about the impending extinction of your garden-variety Willy or Fanny – just ask the website who paid to have this research created:

Miriam Silverman, from Ancestry.co.uk, said: “Of course, no first name can truly become extinct, as it can easily be resurrected, but it’s fascinating to look at the list from 1905 and see which have thrived and which have faded into obscurity.

“We also know that people appreciate a rare or unusual name in their family tree and as more people join the family history revolution we believe that such endangered names will be protected by concerned descendants.”

Oh, good – it turns out the names aren’t actually going extinct, it’s just PR for an ancestry-researching site looking to get more people to join their ‘family history revolution’. Phew. Worried Willies: stand down.