Tag Archives: halfords

“Parents do a lot of driving!” says tyre manufacturer (this year)

Mum and dad’s taxi service: Parents drive 27,000 miles ferrying their children around

Parents often joke about providing a taxi service for their children and new figures show it’s no wonder they feel like full-time chauffeurs.

Parents rack up 26,741 miles driving their children around by the time they turn 20, according to a new study.

As parents ferry their children to and from school, friends’ houses and clubs, it means they clock up 197 days at the wheel.

Source: Daily Mail, 2 June 2014


It’s an age-old story: the put-upon parent and ferrying their children around, being treated like a taxi service. In this particular instance, it’s easy to see who placed this story into the press:

Meanwhile, parents are sat waiting for their children in the car for 30 hours and 46 minutes a year, according to the study by Goodyear.

Goodyear, of course, being the tyre manufacturer – highlighting to parents just how much driving is involved in raising a child.

But, as I mentioned, this is an age-old story, and Goodyear aren’t the first to realise the newsworthiness of this fairly inane finding. Take, for example, a story which appeared in the Mail back in 2013, on behalf of Sainsbury’s car insurance:

Taxi of mum and dad ‘would cost £55 a week at black cab rates’

The taxi service of mum and dad would cost around £55 a week if charged at black cab rates, a survey has found.

Parents are each clocking up more than 1,000 miles, putting nearly £2,000 on the family ‘meter’ and spending more than three full days’ waiting time each year as they act as unpaid chauffeurs for their children.

Collectively Britain’s ten million parents are clocking up an annual bill of nearly £20billion in running costs plus another £10billion ‘waiting time’, according to the study by Sainsbury’s Bank car insurance.

Source: Daily Mail, 23 March 2013


Or, indeed, the following from the Mail in June 2012, courtesy of Sainsbury’s car insurance again:

‘Taxi’ parents spent two days a year waiting in their cars for their offspring

Parents who double as their children’s unpaid chauffeurs spend more than two and a half days a year sitting in their cars ‘waiting’ for their off-spring to finish their sporting and social events, new research reveals today (Thursday).

The ‘mum and dad cabbies’ waste on average an hour and a quarter of their lives every week on stand-by while their sons and daughters do their thing – after they’ve been driven to their appointments, says the report by Sainsbury’s car insurance.

Source: Daily Mail, 14 June 2012


In fact, eagle-eyed readers might recognise the poor, put-upon parent in the photos accompanying each of the three stories – given that the Mail used precisely the same set of stock photos for all three articles. They very much seem to be the Daily Mail’s go-to stock driving family.

This poor lady isn’t the only stock-parent cursed to spend eternity behind the wheel, however – the same story also appeared in June 2011 on behalf of Halford’s Autocentre and even as far back as February 2008, when the AA brought it to the Mail’s attention.

It’s enough to drive you to distraction.

“Birds crap on cars!” says company selling car-cleaner

June 22nd, 2012

Generally, here at Bad PR, I’ve focused primarily on surveys with leading questions or tricksy outcomes. Go back, take a look over the rest of the site, you’ll see that I’m right. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. 

However, there’s another common and very potent PR trope – which, for want of a better name, I’ll call the ‘biggest orange in the bowl’ manoeuvre. Here’s a classic example, taken from the Daily Mail (chosen partly because it’s in my RSS feed, and partly because they’re the worst culprit, of anything, generally):

When birds see red: Crimson cars get hit with more droppings than vehicles of any other colour

Bright red cars attract more bird droppings than vehicles of any other colour, according to a study.

Scientists recorded the frequency that birds left their mark on cars in five cities around Britain, and found crimson vehicles were targeted the most.


Before I explain the trick, there’s a few things I’d like to address.

First up, while the Mail insist unspecified ‘Scientists’ made this shitty discovery, that’s not a claim which appears anywhere in the original press release, issues by Halfords (who, by startling coincidence, will sell you products to remove bird crap from your car). We know this, because the press release is here, and merely speaks of their ‘researchers’ – who are essentially people paid by Halfords to document examples of shit (nice work if you can get it – I get nothing for documenting the crap which passes through this blog).


Secondly, the article in the Mail bears so similar a resemblance to the original press release that an analysis of the text actually shows it to be 80% identical to the Halfords release, meaning Daily Mail journalist Graham Smith contributed only a fifth to the story. Which is fun to know (well done, Churnalism.com). 


The fact that this is a press release directly posing as news with barely a fifth of the story written by the stated author notwithstanding, we can now examine the trick behind this whole ‘research’, and it runs thus: in a closed data set, something has to be the ‘most’ in any given criteria. 

If you’re looking at 1,140 cars, and your options range from 6 colours, one of those colours has to be the most frequently crapped on by birds. Just as somewhere in the UK has to be the most sexually active town, somewhere equally has to be the least, and one of the subjects at Oxford university must feature the student populace who have the most sex. This isn’t necessarily research, it’s merely common sense – at every school sports day, someone has to win the egg and spoon race, but this doesn’t mean they’re the best egg-and-spooners in the world, they just beat the other people in the race.