Monthly Archives: October 2016

“Technology can be frustrating if you don’t take exercise breaks!” says gym company

How many times a day do YOU shout at your PC? Researchers say the average American suffers 40,000 bouts of ‘tech rage’ over their lifetime

Weak Wi-Fi connections, a slow computer and an office printer that doesn’t work properly are enough to make anyone’s blood boil with ‘tech rage’.

A new study reveals millions of Americans experience at least two types of technology malfunctions a day and 40,800 over their lifetime – and these breakdowns are having a huge effect on stress levels.

However, experts have found that working out, such as walking, is a simple solution to calm your nerves.

Source: Daily Mail, 12th October 2016

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Technology can be frustrating, with slow wi-fi and random crashes plaguing all those who rely on their laptop for their day-to-day work – but it appears some people might be taking their frustration too far, indulging in the entirely-made-up phenomena “Tech Rage”. That frustration even spills out into physical symptoms, sadly:

What appears to be even more alarming is that stress from technology breakdown is found to have a physical effect.

Four in ten adults report stiff necks brought on by stress, one in four are plagued by achy joints and muscles and over a quarter suffer from stress-induced migraines.

Fortunately, there are suggested fixes to this fictional problem:

However, many of these individuals felt the need to battle stress with gym workouts, yoga and getting extra rest – remedies experts say are among the best…

The research also examined the link between stress levels and exercise/movement, and found that more than 70 percent of people feel their job doesn’t allow them to move around enough during the day.

However, the survey also reveals that 31 percent of people have found the secret weapon to beat the stress – working out.

That the fix to this made-up issue involves exercise is convenient, given that this is a press release from a gym chain:

‘Fitness goals are about more than exercise. At 24 Hour Fitness, we believe the time you spend in the gym helps make the life you lead outside the best it can be, and that includes helping you deal with the daily stress of technology breakdown,’ said Mike Carney, vice president, marketing, 24 Hour Fitness.

If you’re frustrated at seeing press releases uncritically printed as news articles, perhaps 24 Hour Fitness has a solution to that too…

“Eating yellow food makes you happy!” says yellow food promoter, via marketing scientists

Feeling blue? Key to happiness is eating yellow food

BRITONS feeling sad should eat bright yellow foods to cheer them up as new scientific research today revealed it makes us happier than any other colour.

Experts found eating yellow foods releases significant levels of happy hormones as we associate the bright colour with joy.

An overwhelming 70 per cent link sunny-coloured food to feelings of happiness and omelettes top the list of our favourite yellow foods, with 61 per cent insisting they make them cheerful.

Source: Express, 13th October 2016

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Eating yellow foods is apparently the key to happiness, according to this ‘research’ in the Daily Express. Though there are some pretty signs that this research may not be all it cracked up to be – for instance, there’s the tenuous findings:

Psychologists suggest that positive reactions from yellow are formed at an early age through the warmth of sunshine or the brightness of kids toys.

We like eating yellow foods because our childhood toys are bright? Presumably ignoring the fact that those bright toys may have been bright green, bright red, bright pink, or all manner of other colours. But apparently it’s the brightness that builds affinity with the colour yellow, whether there’s any yellow involved at all.

Then there’s the interesting take on neurology:

Yellow resonates strongly with our left or logic side of the brain which stimulates it and makes us perceive it as happy and fun.

Leaving aside any questions as to whether the left side of the brain really is logical, why would stimulating the logical parts of the brain make us see yellow as happy? And where is the evidence that yellow does indeed resonate strongly with the logical elements of our mind? These are bald assertions, presented with no justification.

Still, at least we have a neuropsychologist to explain more:

Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis said: “There is lots of research to show how colour can affect our emotions, but we were surprised to discover that so many yellow food groups evoked such strong positive feelings as well as stimulating taste buds.

“The research revealed that 30 per cent more people associate yellow with happiness than the other colours tested and 62 per cent of us want to see more yellow in our fridge.”

And by a neuropsychologist, to be clear, we mean marketing scientist and Bad PR regular Dr David Lewis – and even his quote does nothing to explain any link between yellow food and happiness. Lewis claims to be surprised by the findings of the research, about the stimulating effect of the colour yellow on the tastebuds, but to be absolutely clear: no tastebuds were stimulated in the making of this story. The ‘research’ cited here is not clinical research from a neuropsychologist, it’s not even experiential research from an academic who makes a living from looking at the psychology of marketing – this is an opinion poll, asking people what food they like:

The study of 1,000 people found they were much more likely to associate yellow foods with joy and fun than other colours.

And, to really top it off, this is a survey put together by an egg company, in order to promote eggs:

The study by The Happy Egg Company found red foods are our second favourite and brown is our third, while blueberries were the least popular as the colour blue is associated with sadness.

So it’s little surprise that a company promoting eggs finds that dishes that typically contain eggs make people happiest.

Geraldine Phillips, from The Happy Egg Company, said: “With over half of us choosing to eat eggs in the morning, we had long suspected eggs help improve our mood.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to scientifically prove that sunshine yellow yolks release significant levels of happy hormones in the brain, helping everyone start their day the happy way.”

Except, Ms Phillips, you haven’t scientifically proven anything – you’ve conducted a PR exercise and published a press release. Engaging an academic to dress up your advert as science doesn’t change that, and the public ought not to be fooled.

“People are still booking holidays, and you should too!” says holiday company

Terrorism and Brexit don’t stop more Britons going on foreign holidays

MORE people are going on holiday than at any time in the past five years despite terror attacks and the impact of Brexit, according to a study.

Some 86 per cent of UK adults took an overnight trip at home or abroad in the 12 months to August, research by travel organisation Abta found.

This is up from 77 per cent in 2015 and represents the highest figure since 2011, when 90 per cent booked at least one break.

Source: Express, 11th October 2016

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Well, thank god the important things are still safe: despite the melting economy and simmering tensions in the Middle East, Brits are still booking city breaks. Phew. It turns out the travel industry is booming, in that case, and it’s probably a good time to book a holiday. Isn’t that right, spokesperson for the company behind this story?

Abta’s director of brand and business development, Victoria Bacon, described the sixth annual Holiday Habits report as “remarkably positive”.

Miss Bacon told reporters at Abta’s annual convention in Abu Dhabi: “British holidaymakers value their holidays immensely and it is heartening to see that holidays are still a priority for most people, despite the high-profile events both overseas and here in the UK.

“The story of the previous 12 months, for holiday-taking at least, is remarkably positive. It’s been a bumper year for domestic and a good one for foreign holidays.

“Brits love their holidays and they won’t give them up easily.”

Brits, you have been told: keep booking holidays because the travel industry say you should.

“People from Britain make terrible tourists, you should avoid them!” says design-your-perfect-holiday firm

Revealed: A Brit’s biggest gripe during a foreign holiday… is OTHER Brits abroad

Delayed flights, food poisoning and pickpockets are all common gripes of the British holidaymaker, but it turns out their biggest annoyance when holidaying abroad is other Brits.

A new survey has questioned the habits of people from the UK when they take a foreign trip, asking about everything from their culinary tastes to hotel preferences.

It revealed that their own nationality’s tendency to hog the sun lounger and get drunk regularly ruined their own holiday.

Source: Daily Mail, 10th October 2016

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Of all the many things the average Brit can’t stand about other countries, it turns out it’s the other British people that we dislike the most. Who’d have thought it? Well, at least 48% of people in June, to be fair…

However this is not a story of Brexit despair, but a PR piece advertising a popular holiday company, who presumably are courting the popular “aren’t lots of British people frankly awful” market:

In the research, conducted by leading travel search engine Kayak, nearly nine out of ten participants said they get annoyed with fellow British holidaymakers while away on holiday…

Suzanne Perry, a travel expert at Kayak, said: ‘Holidays are about doing what you want to do.

‘The best advice I can offer is to try and act how you would expect others to – that way, you hopefully won’t go too far wrong.’

Given how we typically expect British people to act abroad, I’m not sure that emulating them is a wise move. Still, given that Kayak bill themselves as the bespoke holiday company that allow you to tailor your break to your own specifications, reminding their customers what they can avoid with a well-crafted holiday fits perfectly with their brand values, which after all is the entire point of this story.

“Don’t let your guests’ shoes on your precious new carpet!” says flooring retailer

The 10 etiquette rules you should NEVER break when visiting someone’s house (including looking in the fridge and asking for the Wi-Fi password)

Want to be the perfect houseguest and get invited back again? Don’t use your phone, always take off your shoes and never ask for the Wi-Fi password.

An etiquette study has revealed the top 10 ‘rude’ faux pas according to homeowners – and you should take note.

The survey found that it’s bad manners to ask for the internet access code, while 89 per cent branded using a phone at the table as the biggest house guest faux pas.

Source: Daily Mail, 11th October 2016 

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Social etiquette: the lifeblood of any functional society and a crucial consideration for any house guest. Which is why we can be thankful to the Daily Mail for publishing this list of things to avoid, placed in the media by a discount flooring company:

A spokesperson for DiscountFlooringDepot.co.uk, who commissioned the research, said: ‘Britain is a nation of proud home owners and these results give interesting insight into how many of us would prefer people to behave in our homes.

‘However, my advice to people with houseguests who commit the occasional faux pas is to try and feel glad that any guests committing them simply feel comfortable enough in your home to treat it as their own.’

Why would a flooring company care about social etiquette, you might wonder? Number three on the list of things to stop your guests doing:

House-proud Brits also flagged wearing shoes on the carpet as a house-guest no-no, with 64 per cent revealing they think guests should take off their shoes when entering someone else’s home.

“Young people are rubbish at basic life skills!” says bargain shop

The under 35s who can’t boil an egg or change a lightbulb: Survey finds growing numbers who still live at home do not know basic skills

A third of young adults cannot change a lightbulb while a quarter admit they can’t even boil an egg, according to a survey.

The research among 25 to 34 year olds – many of whom still live with their parents – appears to show they are losing the skills older generations took for granted, as 77 per cent say they couldn’t fix a bike puncture and 68 per cent can’t wire a plug.

And, surprisingly, newer technology leaves many stumped as well, with 23 per cent admitting they can’t use a washing machine while 41 per cent wouldn’t know how to connect a blu-ray player to a TV.

Source: Daily Mail, 11th October 2016

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What’s the story here? Is it really that young people are inept at basic life skills and simply can’t function out on their own? Or is it that a chain of bargain-basement, odds-and-ends shops wanted to grab a few cheap headlines?

Many of those surveyed by Poundland also admitted they couldn’t hang a picture, put a new washer in a dripping tap, decorate a room or iron a shirt or blouse.

Simon Twigger from Poundland, said: ‘It’s quite surprising to see the shift in what young Brits see as key life skills to learn.

‘The older generation still have these domestic skills whereas the younger generation have a lot to learn.

‘Fingers crossed they learn a few of them by the time they move out to avoid paying unnecessary handy man costs.’

Poundland. If ever there were a fitting brand to be employing Bad PR tactics, it’s Poundland.

“People don’t always know what they’re buying!” says insurer trying to crowbar in a ‘straight-talking’ marketing line

I have to admit, I don’t envy the marketers and advertisers of insurance brands. How do you sell something that is, effectively, speculation? In a competitive and barely-distinguishable market where one company’s offering barely differs from another’s? it must be a pain to find new lines to push to the media, which is why you end up with weird stories like this:

Do you know what you are eating? Ingredients from human hair and beavers’ scent sacs used in popular foods like bread and ice cream

Sweepings from the floors of barber shops in China and a secretion from a very intimate part of a beaver are ending up on the nation’s tables, it is claimed.

A study has lifted the lid on some of the bizarre ingredients used by the food industry, beauty giants and others.

Researchers have revealed that some supermarket bread contains an ingredient derived from human hair.

Source: Daily Mail, 30th September 2016

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So, as the story goes, lots of our foodstuffs contain all manner of strange ingredients that we might not know about. Connect that to an insurance company – you have 30 seconds. Go on, see if you can get there.

…It’s not easy, is it? Largely because there is no connection, in any sane world, between beaver glands and insurance. But, for the sake of it, here’s how Privilege Insurance connected these disparate dots:

The research was commissioned by Privilege insurance and promises to reveal the top 20 secrets behind British consumers’ favourite staples, from orange juice to shoes…

…The head of Privilege Insurance, Dan Simson, said: ‘Privilege believes in straight talking and consumer confidence, so we commissioned this research to confirm or dispute once and for all, some of the everyday consumer scenarios we are all faced with.

‘It is paramount that the consumer has all the facts so they can make a logical and sensible choice about the products they are buying.’

You hear that creaking sound? That’s the sound of a marketing manager over-reaching.

“Here are some members of the public making fools of themselves for our marketing pleasure!” says chocolatiers

The hopefuls who DIDN’T get the Milk Tray Man job: Cadbury releases the cringe-worthy audition tapes that failed – including a man who cycles a box of chocolate over to his mum

Chocolate goliath Cadbury, who recently unveiled a super-smooth new Milk Tray Man, have now revealed some of the hopefuls who didn’t quite make the cut.

Some of the audition tapes sent to the confectionery company during their £3million campaign to find a new polo neck-wearing man might leave viewers wondering what the ambitious auditionees were thinking.

From a gym lover wearing only a black thong to a bald hopeful willing to wear a wig and a chap on a pushbike, the minute-long clips fail spectacularly in their bid to prove just how suave they can be.

Source: Daily Mail, 10th October 2016

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In this post-X-factor world you’d have to be a fool to hold behind-closed-doors auditions for a role in your iconic advert, when you can have open submissions from the public, meaning you can secure media coverage in announcing your competition, and then when you find your man you can bag more headlines in announcing your choice.

Still, you’re faced with an inevitable gap between hiring your actor and debuting their first advert, so how do you wring further press coverage out of the story during that break? Why, by humiliating the ordinary people who auditioned for the role, of course! Which is precisely what chocolatier company Cadbury did with their ‘Milk Tray Man’ role, exposing their most hapless auditions not only in the Mail, but in the Sun and Mirror too:

‘I LIKE TO SLIP INTO BEDROOMS UNNOTICED’ After Cadbury’s hire a new hunky Milk Tray Man we take a look at some of the most cringe-worthy audition tapes from the 20,000 hopefuls

LAST year, Cadbury’s launched an appeal to find a hunk to become the star of their new chocolate campaign.

The iconic Milk Tray Man is known for being suave and smooth, but it’s safe to say he won’t be worried about losing his title to any of these blundering auditionees.

Source: The Sun, 7th October 2016

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The most cringe-worthy auditions for the new Milk Tray Man – from a bed intruder to a bearded hipster in a forest

In the bedrooms and woodlands of Britain, strange men have been slipping on polo-neck sweatshirts and talking about chocolate.

The reason behind these strange happenings is because Cadbury is relaunching its midnight intruder, the Milk Tray Man.

The chocolate giant discontinued its adverts in 2003. They began in 1968, with six hunky men – suave, sophisticated, and dressed in black – surreptitiously delivering ladies boxes of Milk Tray in James Bond-like ‘raids’.

Source: Mirror, 10th October 2016

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And that’s how you turn an advert into three hits of national ‘news’ coverage.

“Everyone is getting a wine cellar installed!” says wine cellar fitter

Wine upmanship! Or how the latest status symbol is a £40,000 wine cellar buried under your sitting room

Forget keeping your bottles of plonk in a simple rack or, even worse, a cupboard — no, the latest middle-class must-have is a state-of-the art wine cellar, wall or even a spiral staircase to perfectly showcase your collection.

It’s a trend inspired by such famous faces as Sir Richard Branson, the Beckhams and Angelina Jolie. And with collecting and investing in fine vintages becoming increasingly popular among affluent professionals, so, too, are wine cellars — but not as we know them.

The fusty, cobweb-festooned caves beneath many Victorian houses are not where today’s enthusiasts want to store their wine — not just at the perfect temperature and humidity, but also in style.

Source: Daily Mail, 8th October 2016 

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Ever with the finger on the pulse of what the average reader is thinking, the Daily Mail explained the importance of correct wine storage, and how all the cool kids are having bespoke wine cellars installed. Who might want to inspire a few more renovations with this article?

Lucy Hargreaves, managing director of Spiral Cellars, which builds more than 200 bespoke cellars a year, says she has seen demand rocket by 20 per cent over the past year. ‘Britain’s love affair with wines continues unabated and super-stylish, climate-controlled spaces in which to store wine are now a design feature in many upmarket homes.

‘Every wine cellar or room is slightly different when it comes to temperature, ranging from 8c to 18c. The most important thing is that the temperature is stable, because fluctuations spoil the wine.’

“Here are the toys you need to buy this year!” says toyshop

Attack of the drones! New Star Wars flying toys which can hit 50mph top the list of children’s must-haves this Christmas

Forget hopes of a few hours’ peace as the children put together Lego or play with model cars, this year’s must-have toys threaten to turn Christmas into a war zone.

For a new range of Star Wars-inspired toys include saucer-sized drones capable of flying at 50mph.

Powered by four propellers the mini flying machines are also armed with lasers and intended to allow users to group together to recreate the intergalactic battles seen in the Star Wars films as a drone slowly spirals to the ground after being hit three times.

Source: Daily Mail, 6th October 2016

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An important story here, about the absolute must-have toys for Christmas this year. Which, conveniently, comes from toyshop Hamley’s:

Toy store Hamleys has predicted what it expects to be the top 10 sellers this festive season, including a game that smacks players in the face with a wet sponge or cream.

We’ve come a long way since the days of the PR-staged Buzz Lightyear drought of ’96…