Tag Archives: independent

“People are eating more exotic food!” says supermarket convincing you to buy its exotic range

Goodbye mayonnaise, hello harissa: how UK shoppers’ tastes have changed

UK shoppers buy 3,000 per cent more spices than in the 1960s, according to a new report that shows how British tastes have changed.

British consumers swapped their gravy for turmeric and saffron as changes in population and increased foreign travel got the nation’s taste buds hooked on spicy flavours, according to new research by Sainsbury and food historian Polly Russel.

Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015


Harissa? Rather than good old fashioned working-class mayonnaise? I’m shocked. If only I knew where I could buy something like harissa on my local high street…

‘Chimichurri, peri peri and harissa sauces are now more popular store cupboard standbys as our taste for international cuisine continues to grow’ said Susi Richards, Sainsbury’s Head of Food.

Ah, there we go: I guess I might be able to get it from Sainsbury’s, given that this story is based on their PR.


“People don’t think enough about growing old!” says life insurance provider

Young do not feel grown up until 29, survey shows

Living at home longer, playing computer games and watching children’s films among most common reasons for young people not feeling like adults

Britons do not believe they have become a “grown-up” until they reach the age of 29, it has been revealed.

Despite becoming an adult at the age of 18, the average young person believes it is another 11 years until they are actually an adult.

Source: Telegraph, 3rd September 2015


The average Brit doesn’t feel like a grown-up until they’re 29, study finds

Ever still feel like you’re an 8-year-old with each passing birthday? Well new research has revealed that despite technically becoming an adult at 18, the average Brit does not feel like they have become a ‘grown-up’ until they reach the age of 29.

The study cites ‘living at home longer, playing computer games, watching children’s movies and a reluctance to settle for a “real job”’ as some of the most common reasons for not feeling like an adult, though speculatively I would add to that increasing life spans and the general death of adulthood in culture.

Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015

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Apparently we don’t feel like proper adults until the age of 29

You might be allowed to drink, drive, vote and all that jazz at 18, but a new study says Brits don’t really feel like proper grown-ups until we hit 29.

The research carried out by Beagle Street life insurance shows that we’re all basically big kids at heart, still watching cartoons and children’s films.

Well, let’s be honest, Frozen is amazing.

Other factors that are preventing us from letting go of our adolescence include refusing to settle for ‘a real job’, whatever that is, and living at home longer.

Source: Metro, 3rd September 2015


Today’s generation is late to grow up, reluctant to look ahead to the future, incapable of planning – according to a survey by a life insurance company:

Matthew Gledhill, managing director of Beagle Street, said: “The research shows that growing up is less about years and more about reaching milestones in life like getting married, becoming a parent or buying a home.

“With each of these life events there is a need to take responsibility and a need to become an adult as you have people depending on you to do so.”

He added: “Whether it’s before or after the age of 29, when people do get on the property ladder or start a family it is important that they are protected and we have used technology to remove unnecessary complication and unnecessary cost so it is really easy to get great value life insurance to do just that.”

So while the article looks like a report on what age we truly grow up, it’s actually an attempt to highlight to people that they should take more responsibility – by which we mean buy whatever Beagle Street insurance is selling.

“Mentioning a faddy word will get us in the headlines!” says dictionary company

Every year, a number of words get added to the dictionary, and every year the oddest or faddiest of them make for national and international headlines:

‘Manspreading’ added to online dictionary

The act of “manspreading”, or sitting with legs wide apart on public transport, is among 1,000 new words to enter the online Oxford dictionary.

OxfordDictionaries.com issues quarterly updates on current definitions of English words.

Other new entries include Grexit, Brexit, hangry, beer and wine o’clock and NBD – meaning “no big deal”.

Source: BBC, 27th August 2015


11 weirdest words added to online Oxford dictionary from ‘bants’ to ‘manspreading’

Oxford Dictionaries have been having some bants with their new website update, adding more than 1,000 awesomesauce new words and phrases. It’s NBD though and if this all annoys you then maybe you’re just hangry.

Understand all that? ‘Bants’, ‘awesomesauce’, ‘NBD’ and ‘hangry’ are just a handful of the new entries that reflect current trends in the English language. Many of the nouns, verbs and adjectives will be familiar to the younger generations bringing them in, but there are still a number of unexpected additions that most people will need explaining.

Source: Independent, 27th August 2015


Why bants about manspreading at beer o’clock is NBD: 1,000 new words are added to the Oxford Dictionary

Britons are offending commuters by manspreading, revelling in bants with their friends at beer o’clock, and having a brain fart while talking about the Grexit – but it’s NBD.

These are just some of the 1,000 new terms added to OxfordDictionaries.com in its latest quarterly update, which reveals current trends in the usage of language.

New entries include manspreading, when a man sits with his legs wide apart on public transport encroaching on other seats, bants – short for banter – and NBD, an abbreviation of no big deal.

Source: Daily Mail, 27th August 2015


How much of this represents the natural changing of language, and how much of it is an overt attempt to grab headlines? The question could be answered by looking at how Oxford Dictionaries announce the new intake of 1,000 words in their official press release, which all of these media outlets picked up on:


It’s quite clear that of the 1,000 words admitted to the dictionary, it’s the ones with the most faddy usage that are prioritised in the press release – knowing that it’s these words that will generate the media headlines and gain the column inches the PR team desires.

Fiona McPherson, senior editor of Oxford Dictionaries, said the addition of multiple slang words did not represent a dumbing down of English.

She said: “There’s always been new slang words. I just think we are more aware of them because of the ways in which we consume and live our lives now.

“We are bombarded with more and more avenues where those sort of words are used and we just think that there are more of them. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case.”

What’s remarkable is that this story is exactly the same, year on year, every time new words and slang words are added to the dictionary. And every single year, the media run the story, complete with faux-outrage at the dumbing down of language.

Perhaps one of these years, ‘churnalism’ will make it into the Oxford English Dictionary


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“Houses are really quite expensive, you’ll need some savings!” says mortgage lender

Desperate parents are paying an extra £32k for homes near to top schools

DESPERATE parents are paying an average of £32,127 extra to live in the catchment areas of top-performing schools.

A survey concludes 1.8m households have paid over the odds for their property just to secure a good place.

And 31 per cent of the 4,570 people questioned have gone so far as to change jobs to give their children a helping hand.

Source: Express, 1st September, 2015


Number of parents moving to their desired school catchment area is increasing, according to Santander research

The extent to which parents are resorting to to live within their desired school catchment area has been revealed in new research from Santander Mortgages as competition for places at the UK’s best schools continues to increase.

The bank surveyed just over 4,500 people to find families are prepared to spend over £32,000 to be near their most sought after school – significantly more than the average full-time UK salary of £27,195.

Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015


School places desperation revealed: Millions of parents relocate their families at a cost of £32,000 and even change jobs to secure their child a better education

Millions of parents have moved house and even changed jobs to be within their desired school catchment area, research shows.

One in four parents has relocated their family so their children qualify for a place at a good school.

But a survey found almost half of all families who move to be within a catchment area will leave as soon as they have secured places for all of their children.

Less than a quarter said they planned to live in the area they had moved to for their children long-term.

Source: Daily Mail, 2nd September 2015


Having kids is hugely expensive (I’m told), and buying a house is hugely expensive (I know) – so it stands to reason that buying a house as a parent comes with particularly expensive demands. Still, an extra £32,000 on average? That’s no small amount. What civic-minded institution can we thank for paying for this ‘research’ to appear in the media?

The study by lender Santander says a quarter were forced to downsize to a less attractive home while 31 per cent moved to an area they did not like.

The angle is clear: convince parents that they ought to be aiming high to keep up with the Jones’, and then be the ones to hold their hand when they over-stretch on the mortgage. Fortunately, that’s the kind of dependable and risk-free system sound economic models are based on, with no history of ever having gone wrong in the past…

Santander’s Miguel Sard said: “Being within a certain school catchment area can often come at a cost.

It’s important that parents don’t stretch themselves beyond their means.”

Wise words, Mr Sard, but we’d be more inclined to take them at face value in something other than a glorified advert for your services.

“Looking at the past is interesting!” says ancestry website

Green and Close now most common names for streets

Green and Close are now the most common names for a street, according to new research.

Green has overtaken Church as the most popular beginning for a street name over the last century, while Close replaced Street as the most popular ending, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The rise of Close and other names like Mews, Way and Court has gradually replaced common names such as Street, Road and Lane. This was attributed to the growth of modern estates.

Source: Independent, 27th August 2015


Why Green Close is the modern Church Street: How street names such as ‘Road’ and ‘Lane’ are no longer in favour and have been replaced by ‘Mews’ and ‘Court’

Green has replaced ‘Church’ as the most popular new street name, a study has found.

Meanwhile ‘Close’ has replaced ‘Street’ as the most common ending to an address.

Family history website Ancestry compared modern data with historic patterns from a range of sources, including the 1911 census.

Source: Daily Mail, 28th August 2015


Our street names have changed over the years, in ways that are both interesting and informative – it’s as if looking back into the past is a fun and fascinating way to understand the world we live in! Actually, oddly enough, that’s precisely what the spokesperson from Ancestry.com, the historical-examination company who paid for the survey-based-PR, said:

Miriam Silverman, from Ancestry, said: ‘Street names reflect people’s feelings of the time – who they wished to remember, how they felt about where they lived and its local heroes and what aspirations they had for the future.

‘That’s why looking at past censuses not only tell you vital facts about your ancestor, but also something about the thoughts and feelings of the community in which they lived.’

“Coloured clothing can make you desirable!” says T Shirt company

Want to be seen as sexy, intelligent and confident? Wear black, say researchers Brown, orange and pink were judged as the worst colours to wear in all respects The daily challenge of trying to decide what to wear just got a lot easier – with the release of the results of a survey that found that black clothes are best in almost all scenarios. The survey asked 1,000 people which colours they associated with various personality traits. Source: Independent, 27th August 2015 buytshirtsonline-27082015-independent

It seems that the colour of your clothing says all sorts of things about you, according to ‘researchers’. But who are these researchers? Are they behavioural psychologists? Not quite…

The research was conducted by British company buytshirtsonline.co.uk, a wholesale t-shirt website – so it would be wise to take their findings with a pinch of salt.

You’re absolutely right, Independent, given that this is just an advert for a clothing company it would be very wise to take the findings with a pinch of salt. It’d be wiser still not to print the story as if it were news.

“Aren’t burgers scientifically great?” says supermarket chain’s burger promotion


The news was ablaze last week with talk of the scientifically-perfect burger, although what else can you expect on ‘National Burger Day’?

How to make the perfect burger: Oxford food scientist claims to have answer

Oxford University chef says perfect burger is 7cm tall, should be eaten to music, given a name and should feel as good as it tastes.

A leading food scientist claims to have created the perfect burger – and says that its smell and feel are more important than the taste.

The best burgers are 7cm tall, 5cm wide and boast nine layers, according to Oxford University chef and food perception expert Charles Michel.

Source: Telegraph, 26th August 2015


A 7cm wide patty, crunchy lettuce and a warm bun… eaten with your hands: Chef reveals formula for the perfect burger (and how it SOUNDS is as important as the taste)

Making a delicious burger may seem as simple as whacking a beef patty between two sesame seed buns and finishing adding a slice of iceberg lettuce – but scientists are now begging to disagree.

According to new research commissioned by Asda, a great hamburger should stimulate all the senses including sound and feel.

Chef and flavour researcher, Charles Michel, said that the sensation of the burger in our hands and the crunch of the lettuce all add to the overall experience.

Source: Daily Mail, 26th August 2015


National Burger Day 2015: What does your perfect burger look like?

In a now annual tradition, today we gather together, slap meat into a sliced piece of bread, and stick it in our mouths. Here are the burgers we dreamt of waking up to, on National Burger Day morning — and our pick of our favourite real ones.

Source: Independent, 27th August 2015


This is how to make the ‘perfect’ burger for National Burger Day

It’s National Burger Day tomorrow and we’re already salivating in anticipation of perhaps the greatest food day of the year.

But where to go for the perfect burger?

According to chef Charles Michel, your best bet is to stay at home – and cook up his ‘perfect’ burger.

Michel is the chef in residence at Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, where they analyse how our senses work.

He has conducted some Very Important research in labs for Asda to prove scientifically what makes the perfect burger, from the individual ingredients to the entire eating experience.

Source: Metro, 26th August 2015


Who’d have thought there was a scientist out there independently undertaking such important research as figuring out what the perfect burger consists of? And at Oxford University, no less! What a time to be alive… except, of course, that this was not legitimate research, and was by no means independently-derived:

Mr Michel’s work was commissioned by supermarket Asda to celebrate National Burger Day on Thursday.

No, indeed, this was merely a case of Charles Michel being employed to lend his name to a promotion by a supermarket chain. We can even see the full press release on the Asda website, including the infographic featured in the Telegraph and Daily Mail.


In case you’re wondering what Asda’s angle is in this, the obligatory spokesperson quote makes everything clear:

Asda’s beef buyer Neil Moorcroft said: “Burgers have come a long way from a humble beef patty in a bun to a great British favourite and gastronomic dish.

“Wagyu burgers are full of flavour, texture and have a decent amount of fat to carry burger smells to our nostrils. It’s important to us to support food innovation and offer customers something new.

“We want people to listen to the sounds and appreciate all of their senses when biting into their perfect burgers this National Burger Day.”

As for the scientist, I’m not sure Oxford University would relish their name being bandied around quite so cheaply. Yes, relish.

“Children’s bedtime storybooks are important “, says book retailer and holiday company

The last few weeks have been a curious time in children’s bedtime story news. First off we had the Telegraph and the Independent reporting on the bedtime phenomenon that’s scientifically-designed to send your child to sleep in no time:

Bedtime phenomenon: scientist develops book to send children to sleep in minutes

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep uses psychological techniques to send children to sleep quickly

For most authors the prospect of their books sending readers to sleep would be horrifying.

But the latest publishing phenomenon which is topping the Amazon charts is a book which promises to do just that, at least for children.

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep, has been created by Swedish behavioural psychologist and linguist Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin and is currently outselling Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and Paula Hawkins The Girl on The Train.

Source: Telegraph, 15th August 2015


The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep: Psychologist develops bedtime book to send children to sleep in minutes

The book has shot to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list after being embraced by parents

Every parent of a young child will be familiar with the daily struggle of trying to coax an energetic child into going to sleep.

A psychologist has claimed that he may finally have the answer to the age old problem and has developed a new book scientifically designed to send children to sleep within minutes.

Since going on sale, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep has rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best sellers list.

Source: Independent, 15th August 2015


And of course, by ‘scientifically designed’ we mean put together by a scientist willing to lend his name to a promotional exercise for an international book retailer:

The book was publishes using Amazon’s CreateSpace system.

Alison Forrestal, Director of Books and Entertainment Media, Amazon UK said: “This book has been a word of mouth phenomenon. Carl-Johan took the opportunity to independently publish and has now reached parents and children all over the UK.

“This is the first time an independent author has taken the number one position in our print books chart and ‘The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep’ is currently outselling big releases like The Girl on a Train and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. It’s a great achievement and we, like many families across the UK, hope there are many more books to come.”

If that weren’t odd enough, a fortnight later the Daily Mail and the Telegraph (again) ran a follow-up, this time crediting science with having derived the formula for the perfect bedtime story:

Recipe for perfect bedtime story: Ideal tale lasts eight and a half minutes and includes a dragon, a princess, a wizard and a fairy, research reveals

The perfect bedtime story lasts eight-and-a-half minutes and includes a dragon, a princess, a wizard and a fairy, research reveals.

And such knowledge might just come in handy because the survey also found that parents spend a total of one week a year trying to get their children to go to sleep.

While the ideal story lasting eight minutes and 36 seconds might have traditional elements, such as the backdrop of a castle, the hero should carry a thoroughly modern mobile phone as well as a magic wand.

Source: Daily Mail, 28th August 2015


The secrets of the perfect bedtime story revealed

The ideal bed time story should be just 8.6 minutes long, feature a dragon, a fairy and a wizard and be set in a castle, new research has revealed

Many a parent has melded the literary greats with the themes of Hollywood blockbusters to create bedtime stories to tell their young ones.

But now the formula for the ultimate bedtime tale has been revealed for the first time.

A new study of 2,000 parents and their children has shown that the ideal story should last just 8.6 minutes long.

Source: Telegraph, 27th August 2015

Yet more bedtime science! I’m not sure when the world became awash with experts in the field of children sleeping, but August 2015 will truly go down as a landmark date for great advances in this particularly niche science. Either that or it will be noted for the time that one company jumped on the back of a PR push by another company, and science got taken along for the ride.

So who came up with the recipe for the ‘perfect bedtime story’? We know it wasn’t noted ‘storytelling expert’ Alex Charalambous, who has this to say:

Story-telling expert Alex Charalambous said: “As your child prepares to go back to school after the holidays, it’s a good idea to establish a steady bedtime routine that includes reading a story. As the research shows, the familiarity of a classic tale draws children in and the happy ending makes for a pleasant night’s sleep.

It seems an odd point to start from in bringing up, a propos of nothing, preparation to go back to school after holidays, and the importance of routine. What does that have to do with the perfect bedtime story? Well, as it turns out, everything:

The study, by holiday camp company Butlin’s, as part of their new ‘Just for Tots’ breaks, highlighted how difficult mums and dads find getting their children to sleep when they start school again following the summer break.

This is a PR campaign by Butlin’s – in fact we can see it all over their website.


What have bedtime routines and bedtime stories got to do with a holiday company like Butlin’s? The answer, of course, is that their ‘Just For Tots’ holiday range includes bedtime stories for your child, all the way through the holidays, so you don’t have to worry about establishing a new post-holiday routine.


If you think that seems a far-fetched hook for a national news story, let the obligatory spokesperson quote clear things up for you:

Dermot King, managing director of Butlin’s which commissioned the research, added: “With our dedicated Just for Tots breaks we already aim to cater for the under-fives in every way possible, whilst ensuring parents can spend as much time with their children without any added stresses.

“To make sure bedtime is as much of an event as the rest of the day, we’re lending out these clever story boxes on resort, giving parents the tools to engage their little ones fully at bedtime, and ensure they nod off in preparation for another action filled day.”

And that, boys and girls, is how if you wish really hard on the right star you can turn your self-serving advert into national news. Good night.

“Kids have unrealistic salary expectations!” says group of bankers

Another from the ‘kids are stupid’ file now, with the finding that pupils who have just gotten their GCSE’s aren’t fully acquainted with the realities of payscales:

GCSE results 2015: Average school-leaver expects to earn almost £90,000, Santander survey reveals

Bank says only 7% would consider becoming an apprentice which shows ‘there is still a lack of awareness’

The average school-leaver expects to earn an annual salary of almost £90,000 at the height of their career – despite the UK average being £26,500, according to new Santander research.

The bank, which is one of the UK’s biggest personal financial service providers, spoke with almost 500 Year 11 students to gain an insight into their career attitudes to discover they think they’ll be taking home £89,000.

Source: Independent, 21st August 2015

GCSE results day: School leavers reckon they’re going to be on £90k a year

If you know anyone getting their GCSE results today you may want to sit them down and have a word.

The average 16-year-old reckons they will be on £89,000 a year at the peak of their career with one in five expecting to hit £100,000.

The average salary, remind them, is currently £26,500 and while some of them undoubtedly will make a decent amount of money, their expectations are pretty unrealistic.

The findings are from a Santander survey aimed at gauging young people’s career attitudes and expectations, released the day students discover their GCSE results.

Source: Metro, 20th August 2015

First off, it’s worth highlighting that the story in both papers is merely a trimmed down version of a press release by Santander – meaning no original journalism, or likely even fact-checking, was done by either the Metro or the Independent in this case:

This is particularly telling, as the press release wasn’t overly interested in kids’ earnings over their career as it was advertising Santander’s apprenticeships, as we can see from the quote in the Independent coverage:

The results also showed how apprenticeships are being perceived among the group: only seven per cent would consider becoming an apprentice which, Santander said, shows there is still a lack of awareness amongst young people of the career benefits and opportunities available through becoming one.

HR director at Santander, Vicky Wallis, described how there is the perception amongst young people that apprenticeships are only for ‘hands on’, manual professions.

While young people have a good understanding of the value of college and university, she said, there is a significant number who are unaware of the benefits of apprenticeships.

She added: “We need to encourage young people to look into the vast number of opportunities available to them through apprenticeships and the multitude of sectors involved, such as banking.”

As for the kids and their sky-high salary expectations, while what they want to earn might not be too closely aligned to reality, to have this pointed out by workers in the banking industry is something of a pot and kettle scenario.

“People wanted to sell Glastonbury tickets!” says ticketing website

Glastonbury 2014: Four in five fans wanted to resell tickets after Metallica announcement

The vast majority of people would have re-sold their Glastonbury Festival ticket after Metallica were announced as headliners, new research has found.

The US heavy metal group’s booking has been met with controversy, with musicians and fans doubting whether the “Enter Sandman” band are a suitable fit for the “hippy” vibe of the event.

Furthermore, frontman James Hetfield’s involvement in a pro bear-hunting documentary sparked online petitions to remove Metallica from the line-up.

Source: Independent, 26th June 2014


It seems not everyone was happy with the oldie-heavy line-up at this year’s Glastonbury, with a straw poll showing some people wanted to sell their tickets – something the festival’s personalised tickets made impossible to do. It’s worth noting who decided to point out the downside to this particular policy:

But almost four in five fans who bought a ticket to this summer’s festival were put off going by Michael Eavis’ decision to invite Metallica to play, Viagogo reports from their June poll of 2,000 UK adults.

“These findings support widespread media reports that Metallica was a controversial choice to headline one of the world’s most iconic music festivals,” a spokesperson for the ticket marketplace said.

Viagogo are an online ticket exchange and resale website, where gig-goers can sell their unwanted gig tickets… so long as they aren’t personalised, like Glastonbury tickets. Oddly, Viagogo believe non-personalised, tout-friendly tickets are much better. Odder still, the research they commissioned agrees with them:

“We believe that once you’ve bought a ticket it’s yours and if you want to sell it or give it away, you should be allowed to do so.

“In this case, with an unpopular headline act announced late, ticket holders lose out because they can’t resell their tickets and Metallica fans lose out because they can’t buy them.”

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that there’s no guarantees the people polled by Viagogo were actually even Glastonbury ticketholders. It’s also worth noting that Viagogo tried a different tactic at criticising Glastonbury’s ticket resale policy last year – to no avail. Clearly, Viagogo really want to get a piece of the Glastonbury action.

If only Viagogo were in the PR industry – there’s no such sanctions stopping content resale in the PR world, in fact it’s the very basis of the industry.