Tag Archives: deborah arthurs

“You should worry about what your child can see online!” says online security company

“You should worry about what your child can see online!” says online security company

“Men’s underwear is important and newsworthy!” says retailers of men’s underwear

What’s the best way to track the performance of the economy? Is it to check the value of your house? Or perhaps the performance of your savings accounts? Or maybe it’s to see exactly how close to death you’ll need to get before you can retire?

According to the Daily Mail, it’s none of the above – the correct way to monitor the performance of the economy is to see what underwear the man in your life is wearing:

The Underwear Index: Soaring sales of colourful men’s briefs could mean the economy is on the upturn

You’ve heard of the hemline index – where the length of women’s skirts rises or falls according to the economic climate. 

But now experts have pinpointed another marker of economic bouyancy – and it’s all down to sales of men’s pants. 

Fashion observers at UK underwear and swimwear site deadgoodundies.com have found that men buy more colourful underwear when the economy is booming, but return to their failsafe white, black and grey when there is a downturn.

Source: Daily Mail, 7 February 2013

Yes, according to retailers of men’s underwear, men’s underwear is hugely important and worthy of our attention. 

‘Believe it or not, over the past few years men’s branded underwear collections have become increasingly colourful, more so than women’s, in fact,’ Jane Garner, co-founder of Deadgoodundies.com told mnn.com. 

‘Men have a huge choice in terms of plain colours and patterns this season, and I’m not just talking about quirky kiddie prints, which were all the rage a few years ago.’

Well, Jane, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll choose not to believe it – but well done on getting your nonsense PR into the national media. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see the Daily Mail run an underwear story where it’s men that are being exploited for their body for a change – if we’re going to objectify, then at least we can do it without discrimination…

Valentine’s Day retailers say it with flawed surveys

It’s February 14th, and in accordance with tradition the nation will be heaving tonight with the sounds of relationships the country over being consumated. Specifically, the relationships between PR agencies and their satisfied clients, as retailers and businesses cash in on the Valentine’s Day media free-for-all.

While the exploitation of the most commercial of the Hallmark Holidays is nothing new, 2013 certainly hasn’t let the side down – the first rains of the Valentine’s PR monsoon falling as early as January, with pioneering research into the evolution of the pet name (Daily Mail, January 28th) published in the Daily Mail:

Move over darling! Old-fashioned favourite beaten into third place as babe and baby become Britain’s top terms of endearment

The research found that terms of affection such as ‘darling’ and ‘sweetheart’ have been superseded by more modern and streamline pet-names like ‘baby’ and ‘love’ (both of which were actually only invented in the year 2000 as part of Britain’s preparations for the Millennium Bug). These findings have far-reaching implications, according to the researchers – who coincidentally are a sex toy retailer named after two common pet names:

Lovehoney co-founder Neal Slateford said: ‘The ways pet names have changed over the years show we are getting even more affectionate towards each other and a little less formal.

‘As a nation, we are learning to lighten up when it comes to love and sex. That has to be a good thing.’

If I were an online sex toy retailer, I’m sure I’d find ample reason to agree. Still, that the survey produced media-friendly results of potential benefit to the company carrying out the research should in no way undermine the credibility of this online, self-reported and entirely-subjective poll, even as further findings from this PR exercise are explained:

And while the British might have a reputation for being unromantic, the poll found that the opposite is true, with 72 per cent saying that Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to show a partner how much they appreciate them.

If anybody is still unsure how to show a partner how much they’re appreciated, a Mr Slateford at Lovehoney.co.uk has a number of expensive suggestions for you. Or perhaps you could always turn to vibrator vendors ‘Desire and Pleasure’, whose own online self-promotional pseudo-research was featured in The Sun (The Sun, February 7th):

CASH-strapped Brits are shunning expensive romantic nights out this Valentine’s Day — and stocking up on SEX TOYS instead, a survey claims.

The unromantic reputation of Britons was similarly noted by British tourist board ‘Visit Britain’, who pointed out (Daily Mail, February 10th):

Britain ‘too stuffy’ to host romantic visit as Italy and France is preferred by tourists

While we may be too stuffy to be romantic, we’re not too stupid to recognise reverse psychology. The lack of romance in modern-day Britain is clearly an area fraught with controversy, with a study published by Interflora insisting that Britons are a nation of romantics who fall in love at first sight (Daily Mail, February 6th), with one in five Brits positive the best way to declare new-found love is with a nice bunch of flowers. If only they could find a suitable florist.

While there’s clearly some rigorous academic dispute over the romance levels of the average Brit, at least one thing is certain – somewhere in Britain can be arbitrarily declared as more romantic than everywhere else. After all, in any closed set with random variance, there has to be an upper and lower limit – and what better way to highlight normal statistical distribution than by letting people know you sell perfume (Daily Mail, February 1st)?

When it comes to Valentine’s gifts, we’ve an abundance of research – each piece diligently compiled by online survey companies using questions written very carefully by PR companies on behalf of businesses aiming to use Valentine’s Day to secure column inches. Voucher website Groupon, for example, revealed flowers and chocolates just don’t cut it (The Sun, February 12th), and instead a gifts need to be memorable – rather like one of the experiences you can buy inexpensively on voucher websites like Groupon. And heaven help you if you get last-minute flowers from a petrol station – voucher website NetVoucherCodes.co.uk have research proving such an idea is a no-no (Daily Mail, February 11th).

On the other hand, as retailer Debenham’s helpfully researched, it’d be a good idea to buy the lady in your life some ‘posh knickers’ (Daily Mail, February 6th). Or perhaps you should take part in the British Heart Foundation’s charity initiative to write your partner a love note – after all, the BHF’s own research proves women prefer a simple, thoughtful gesture to an expensive gift anyway (Daily Mail, February 12th). But remember to buy your mistress something nice, too (Daily Mail, February 12th) – an extramarital dating website has research which says this is wise.

For those in long-term relationships, Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily all department-store knickers and online vouchers – there are innumerable pitfalls into which the unsuspecting lover could fall. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of PR-led research with commercially-valuable conclusions to guide an impressionable couple – with advice from MSN to avoid relationship-killing public display of affection (Daily Mail, February 12th) and data produced by internet security experts McAfee (Daily Mail, February 5th) proving that not only are your exes cyber-stalking you, but that those explicit photos on your smartphone are vulnerable to being hacked unless you can find an expert willing to sell you internet security. Even married couples aren’t safe from the relationship curse, with research proving that excitement, romance, sex and affection are dead in the water after three and a half years of marriage (The Telegraph, February 9th) – that the data was gathered by Co-op Foods probably has nothing at all to do with their Valentine’s Meal Deal and associated ad campaign.

Of course, if all else fails, you could always opt for the free Valentine’s Day Divorce (Daily Mail, February 12th). After all, there’s only 365 days left until Valentine’s Day – and there’s a hell of a lot of spurious, commercially-driven and scientifically-worthless online surveys to fill in before then.

Originally published in The Guardian, 14 February 2013

“We don’t clean often or thoroughly enough!” says cleaning product manufacturers

July 10th, 2012

I like it when a story is plain and simple, with no twists and turns. Take, for example, this one from the Express:

WHAT A DIRTY LOT…SO MANY SKIP HYGIENE

MILLIONS don’t bother with basic personal hygiene because they are too busy or too lazy, a survey revealed yesterday.

Researchers found barely half of British adults always wash their hands with soap after visiting the toilet. And a quarter of workers claim to be too rushed to wash and dry their hands properly after nipping to the loo.

A morning shower is regularly skipped by 58 per cent of men, with a quarter admitting they would rather have the extra time in bed. One in three said they simply couldn’t be bothered.

And its partner from the Daily Mail:

We really ARE the great unwashed! Brits ‘too busy’ to wash their hands after using the loo – while over half of men skip their daily shower

Millions of Britons neglect a string of basic personal hygiene tasks – because they are too busy or too lazy, a survey found today.

Researchers found barely half of adults always wash their hands with soap after visiting the toilet.

And shockingly 27 per cent of workers claim to be too rushed at work to wash and dry their hands properly after visiting the toilet.

Additionally, 58 per cent of men regularly skip the morning shower – with one quarter admitting they would rather have the extra time in bed.

Incredibly, one quarter of lazy Brits change their bed sheets just once a month.

Here we have a simple, easy-to-follow story telling the tale that we Brits are dirty, filthy creatures who don’t know the value of soap and have no clue how to keep ourselves clean. There are no prizes for guessing where this one is heading.

Before we get there, a quick note on some of the stats:

  • 58 per cent of men regularly skip the morning shower – this stat is meanignless without a definition of what constitutes ‘regularly’, an analysis of how many respondents had access to a shower (rather than just a bath), and how many respondents opted for a late-night shower instead
  • with one quarter admitting they would rather have the extra time in bed… one in three said they simply couldn’t be bothered – presented as if to seem like a quarter or third of the 2000 people polled, this is actually one quarter of the 58% above, therefore this stat not only suffers from the issues its parent stat does, but also from the issue of now including a much smaller number of respondents
  • One in twenty of the 2,000 adults polled … said the last time they cleaned their toilet was a month ago and 10 per cent said it was two weeks ago – does this reflect the last time their toilet was cleaned, or the last time the respondent cleaned it? It’s beyond plausible that other members of the household could have cleaned the toilet, yet with the incorrect wording of the question we’d see only the last time the particular respondent personally undertook the cleaning.
  • one quarter of lazy Brits change their bed sheets just once a month – oddly this contradicts other equally-scientific ‘findings’ in the past, stating that Brits change their bedsheets either once every three weeks (Daily Mail, April 2012, for shopping channel QVC), or just four times a year (Daily Mail, February 2010, for insurers Sheila’s Wheels). It’s almost as if this isn’t science at all, but meaningless paper-filling PR drivel.

Speaking of which, this was a study conducted on behalf of cleaning product manufacturers Dettol by 72Point’s polling arm (and our old friends) OnePoll – we know that because here it is on their site:

Quite remarkably, the Daily Mail version of the story (which was ‘written’ by Deborah Arthurs) takes 90% of its text directly from the OnePoll press release, meaning that the journalist involved contributed only 10% to the article.

Similarly, the article in the Express, attributed to Jane Matthews, was actually 80% copied and pasted from the press release, making the Jane of the Express twice as good as Deborah of the Daily Mail, but still operating at only a fifth of the quality standard expected of a professional journalist. Value for money, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Now, is anybody else left feeling a bit dirty?