Tag Archives: metro

Wholesale Clearance’s PR stunt makes mugs of the nation’s media

Did you hear the one about the intern who mistook US president Barack Obama for England defender Chris Smalling? I bet you have – it’s been everywhere. Here’s the story from the Daily Express:

You MUGS! Manufacturers mistake England’s Chris Smalling for BARACK OBAMA

AFTER the team’s timid capitulation against Uruguay and subsequent exit from the World Cup England are less world leaders at football, more like a bunch of mugs.

Two successive defeats at the World Cup in Brazil has left the hopes of a nation in ruins.

Right now, there are few more important jobs than shoring up Roy Hodgson’s leaky defence…with the possible exception of leading the free world, that is.

The Three Lions might be heading home soon but do we really think the team can one day win something? Yes We Can.

If you are wondering why the chap on this souvenir mug looks a little familiar, well, it’s Barack Obama.

Source: Daily Express, 22nd June 2014

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The Daily Express weren’t the only ones to run the story – in fact it also found coverage at:

Mixing Barack Obama and Chris Smalling – what an embarrassing mistake to make! I imagine there’s an intern out there who is pretty red-faced! But, of course, it’s an easy mistake to make, isn’t it? After all, all it takes is for an intern to do a Google search for Chris Smalling but accidentally type the words ‘Barack Obama’ by mistake, then find that very famous photo that definitely exists of Barack Obama wearing this season’s England shirt, and then fail to recognise one of the most famous men in the world and use that photo in place of Chris Smalling.

After that, it’s a simple case of nobody at his company stopping to question why the President of the USA is on a mug, wearing an England shirt (we all remember when Obama posed for that photo in an England shirt, right?), and for no printer to notice the error either (and I’ve worked extensively in print design and can confirm, when it comes to printing merchandise like this, that there’s typically at least half a dozen conversations around design specs, plus the need to sign off a proof of every product before a full print run).

Clearly it’s a mistake that absolutely anybody could make… well, primarily anybody who wanted to get the name of their online surplus stock wholesale company into as many media outlets as possible:

Andy White of Wholesale Clearance UK, which specialises in buying end-of-line stock and factory seconds, said it had knowingly bought the mugs when they were offloaded by a merchandising company.

If we stop for even a moment to think about the validity of the official story behind these mugs, it’s clear it simply doesn’t hold up. Even now, more than 24 hours since the story broke, a Google image search for Chris Smalling shows hundreds of photos of the Manchester United player… and zero photos of Barack Obama.

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What’s more, a photo of Obama in an England shirt simply does not exist – so it had to be photoshopped. Are we to believe the ‘bleary-eyed intern’ accidentally photoshopped a photo of the world leader into an England shirt ‘by mistake’?

There simply is no route by which this story could have happened as told in the media. This is, in my opinion, the clearest of PR stunts from Wholesale Clearance UK.

What’s more, it’s not the first story of this nature to involve Wholesale Clearance UK. Remember when William and Kate were still pregnant, and we didn’t know if Baby George was actually going to be a Georgina? Remember the tale of the memorabilia firm who jumped the gun and printed a job lot of ‘Royal Princess’ plates? Here’s the Daily Mail’s version of events:

‘To celebrate the birth of the Royal PRINCESS’: Firm left with 5,000 unsold plates after wrongly assuming Kate would have a girl

The birth of Prince George has been a massive boon for many manufacturers, but one company lost out after it produced 5,000 commemorative plates celebrating the arrival of a ‘Royal Princess’.

Other objects produced to mark the historic birth this week include Lego, dolls and an official porcelain collection – but most had the wisdom to wait and find out the baby’s sex before launching their memorabilia.

However, one unnamed firm supposedly had a tip-off from a royal insider that the Duchess of Cambridge was set to give birth to a girl, and designed plates with the message: ‘To celebrate the birth of the Royal Princess’.

Source: Daily Mail, 25th July 2013

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Once again we have an un-named memorabilia firm making an unfortunate-but-comic screw up, and once again who bought up their useless stock?

The useless memorabilia was snapped up by online retailer Wholesale Clearance UK, which is selling the plates in lots of 50, with each set costing £149 – or £2.98 per item.

As with the Obama England mugs, this story simply doesn’t pass the sniff test: the firm created 5,000 plates assuming the baby would be a girl. Did they also release a range of plates based on the Royal baby being male? If they did, I can’t find them. There absolutely are such plates available, but none with a remotely similar design to the Royal Princess range (which are, incidentally, still on sale on Wholesale Clearance’s website). Did the unnamed company really only make Royal Princess plates? Or did they also make Royal Prince plates, but inexplicably chose to create a whole new design for them, knowing only one of the two designs would ever be on general sale?

What’s more, take a look at that Royal Princess plate – who the hell is that baby in the middle of it?

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Why would a firm commemorate the birth of a child who wasn’t yet born, at a time when they didn’t know the gender, using a photo of a baby who wasn’t the actual baby? When the more sensible alternative would be to have no photo of a baby at all? Even if the royal baby actually was female, the plate would have been worthless, given that the photo wasn’t of the correct baby. Are we really meant to believe that any memorabilia firm in the world would make such a decision, rather than running without a baby photo at all? Do we really think, even for a moment, that there is any truth to this story?

It seems clear that both the Obama mug story and the Royal Princess plate story are nothing more than paper-thin attention-grabbing PR stunts from Wholesale Clearance Ltd – and given the huge impact and universally-credulous coverage the stunt has received from the mainstream media, it seems like it was a successful stunt at that.

Hat tip to @FieldProducer and @TheMediaTweets, where I first spotted this story.

“Buy a new television, you’ll have better sex!” says voucher company offering discount TVs

Does having a TV in your bedroom lead to more sex?

Those of you that spend your precious post-work hours in bed watching Game Of Thrones, give yourself a pat on the back, because it’s you lucky chaps that are getting more sex. Hurrah!

According to a new survey, couples who have a television set in their bedroom have sex twice a week, compared to those who don’t, who only engage in love-making *snigger* once a week.

Well, it’s hard to have spontaneous sex while you’re sitting in separate armchairs, balancing a cup of tea and some HobNobs isn’t it?

Source: Metro, 29th May 2014

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Want to spice up your love life? Get a TV in your bedroom! People with a telly in the boudoir have TWICE as much sex (what ARE they watching?)

Having a TV in your bedroom may damage your sleep cycle – but it could also spice up your sex life, if the latest research is to be believed.
Those with a TV in their bedroom have sex, on average, twice as much as those who don’t, according to a new poll.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘Do you have a TV in your bedroom?’ to which three quarters, 74 per cent, of the people taking part said ‘yes’.

Source: Daily Mail, 3rd June 2014

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In the world of tabloids and cheap PR, there’s no shortage of companies and products promising you a better sex live. There are plenty of examples listed on this very website, no less.

Who is it this time pressing the big red button labelled SEX?

A spokesperson for VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, who commissioned the research, said: ‘We’re a little surprised that Britons who have a TV in their bedroom have a more active sex life than those who don’t, but it makes more sense when you look at the possible reasons why.

Oh really, discount voucher website? You believe this is genuine research, then? And definitely not about convincing people to take advantage of your discount deals on televisions?

‘However, we’d suggest that if they were wondering how to improve their sex lives, they could do so simply by purchasing a TV for their bedroom.

‘Technology is becoming such a pivotal part of everyday life and it’s becoming much more common to have a TV in your bedroom than to not.

Whilst it’s much better for your health to use your bedroom as a place to sleep and your living room as a place to watch TV, it seems that the addition of a plasma could spice things up between the sheets!’

I thought as much.

“Your partner is probably cheating on you… and you’ll never know it!” says voucher company

A third of Brits cheat on their stag and hen dos, and 88 per cent keep it from their partner

A survey has today revealed that a staggering 31 per cent of brides and grooms-to be cheat on their partners on their stag and hen dos.

Source: Metro, 3rd June 2014

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A third of Brits cheat on their stag or hen do…but you’ll probably never find out because 92% keep it from their partner

A stag or hen do is known as the last night of freedom before committing to someone for the rest of your life – and it seems that some Brits really take advantage of that.

New research reveals that a third of stags and hens cheat on their betrothed during their final night of freedom.

Worse still, you’ll probably never find out because 92 per cent of those who cheated said that they’d kept this from their partner.

Source: Daily Mail, 4th June 2014 

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Not only is your beloved definitely, definitely cheating on you, but the fact that you don’t think they are only goes to show just how good they are at keeping it a secret – it’s a perfect, watertight argument.

Of course, just as equally, it might be that your partner isn’t actually cheating on you, and that this story is merely a headline-making, eye-catching episode designed to capitalise on spreading fear and paranoia amongst relationships simply to promote a product or service in the mainstream news. But who would do a thing like that?

A spokesperson for vouchercloud, who commissioned the survey, said: ‘I think it’s no secret that when full of alcohol and banter, things can get out of hand on these events and one of these things is the issue of cheating.

‘Many people see this as their chance for a final fling before finally settling down. We were surprised to see that a good two thirds of the country remain faithful even in the excitement of their celebration.

Vouchercloud: the online discount website that says, “Your spouse slept with a stranger!”

“Britain’s Horniest students sleep around!” says website looking to help students sleep around

Did you hear the one about Britain’s Horniest Student? The Mail, Metro, Star and Huffington Post have all told the tale today of Elina Desaine, recently awarded the controversial title:

Girl who bedded three men a week named ‘Britain’s horniest student’ in revolting online competition where young women are encouraged to have sex at university for cash prize

A computer science student who boasts of sleeping with up to three men every week has been named Britain’s Horniest Student after entering a degrading online competition.

Elina Desaine, 20, doesn’t even know the names of all her sexual partners, but tries to keep track with handwritten list using descriptions such as ‘French guy’ and ‘third year’ to recall her trysts.

Source: Daily Mail, 14th November 2013

If you’re thinking to yourself “I didn’t know that was a real award”, give yourself five points for memory, but minus five points for skepticism – it’s not a real award. Instead, it’s a publicity stunt competition by the website ShagAtUni:

The University of Exeter student received £500 and a year’s supply of condoms after winning the competition run by controversial ‘no strings attached fun’ website, Shagatuni.com.

This is literally therefore nothing more than an overt advert for a sleazy hook-up site, disguised as news. In fact, here’s the full press release up on their website – demonstrating just how much the media lifted and churned the PR copy they were given.

This isn’t the first time ShagAtUni – a site whose motivation and business model is near-cryptic in its opaqueness, given the name they’ve elected to call themselves – has made the news with this competition. In fact, launching the competition itself made just the same splash in the Daily Mail, back in early October.

Given the reward in the competition – almost £1000 in total – and the nature of the site promoting it, it’s fair to say the exact details of the winner’s story are open to questioning.

Of course, that this is nothing but an advert for a sleazy website won’t stop the endless stream of slut-shaming on Twitter – demonstrating neatly the damaging and detrimental effect this level of Bad PR can have on the perceptions of women, of the young, and of the newspapers.

Here’s an ongoing selection of the public reaction to this non-story – see if you can spot a common trend:

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Ultimately, as ever, the only message of this article is this: ShagAtUni is a thing, and they want you to go there and use their service. Everything else is just a wrapper.

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“Women feel too fat to be seen naked!” says dodgy diet pill retailer

“Smartphones are replacing photo albums!” says smartphone manufacturer

The digital age comes with many advances, and just as many outmoded technologies left to fall by the wayside. Take, for instance, recent reports from the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Metro that the once-cherished family photo album is becoming a thing of the past:

Family albums fade as the young put only themselves in picture

Traditional photo albums are dying out as young people now take more pictures of themselves than friends and family, a survey suggests.

So-called “selfies”, where the photographer takes photos of themselves by holding their camera at arm’s length, have become the most popular image captured by young people.

They now account for 30 per cent of pictures taken by those aged 18-24, with men taking more photos of themselves than women, according to the poll.

Consequently, two-thirds of Britons now eschew displaying their photos in old-fashioned albums and prefer to catalogue their pictures on computers, tablets or smartphones instead.

Source: Telegraph, 17th June 2013

Digital, it seems, is king – with the once-loved practice of slipping printed photos into plastic wallets in increasingly-dusty family photo albums now long dead. Instead, photos are near-exclusively saved to online repositories like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with access to those sites – and the smartphone technology to make the most of them – crucial in the modern world. 

Just a third of those questioned said they still displayed images using an old-fashioned book, while 53 per cent claimed they preferred to use Facebook and only 13 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they had ever used an album.

Around one in five people take photos with the intention of posting them on sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, with 10 per cent of those polled saying their snaps were uploaded onto a website in less than a 60 seconds after they had been shot on a smartphone.

Or, at least, so says a survey by smartphone manufacturers Samsung:

“The growing trend in sharing photography online is also resulting in the death of the photo album,” said Samsung, which analysed the responses of 3,000 people collected by OnePoll.

While it’s undoubtedly true that the taking and sharing of pictures has moved almost exclusively online, it’s hard to see Samsung’s role in informing the world of this fact as anything other than self-serving market positioning and glorified advertising, as featured in at least three  national newspapers. 

“Old age is stalking you like a hungry wolf!” says life insurance provider

Old age is slowly but surely, not to mention inescapably, coming for us all – trust me, I know, with my 30th birthday only a few months away. Don’t worry, I’m not panicking, by the time I’m 30 we’ll have cured the ageing process and we’ll all be happily flying round in our jetpacks and double-ties. So I’m fine. But what about the rest of you – just how old are you all feeling?

New ‘research’ published literally everywhere – such as the Express, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Metro and even BBC 4’s The Now Show – reveals just how old and decrepit we all are:

Don’t spill sherry, it’s one of 40 signs you’re getting old

DO you groan when bending down, use the phrase “in my day” or have switched from Radio 1 to Radio 2? Then you’ve got to face it, you’re getting old.

Falling asleep in front of the TV is a sure sign of getting old

Although most people agree there is no set figure that defines old age, certain habits and opinions identify a person as getting on in years.

In a survey of 2,000 people, the 40 most common pointers included taking your slippers to visit a friend’s house and using phrases such as: “It wasn’t like that when I was young.”

Other tell-tale signs were developing a love of sherry, taking a flask of tea on days out and falling asleep in front of the television.

Source: The Express, 18th June 2013

It seems, then, that an awful lot of things we would stereotypically attribute to ‘old people’ – such as drinking sherry, watching the Archers and driving slowly – really genuinely are signs that the shadowy hand of the reaper grows ever nearer. This would be quite a sobering thought, if it weren’t equally plausible that the research instead picked up on what we assume ‘old’ people do, based on the very stereotypes that are reinforced by articles such as these.

Other entries in the list were particularly obvious examples of this effect:

15. Discovering you have no idea what young people are talking about.

This is a textbook example of ‘begging the question’: of course someone who has no idea what ‘young’ people are talking about must be ‘old’ – if they weren’t old, they wouldn’t be able to label the former group as young.

Equally, it’s worth bearing in mind that this list was almost certainly given to participants in the survey who then had to rank which ones they felt were real signs of old age – rather than being a representative sample of responses freely offered by participants. It’s essentially a case of stacking the deck – by asking people to choose from a discrete list you yourself have chosen, with no real opportunity to offer their own suggestions in any meaningful way, you can easily produce exactly the kind of stereotype-friendly and media-pleasing list you need to support your client… who, in this case, is life insurance firm Engage Mutual:

Kathryn McLaughlin, of life insurance specialists Engage Mutual, which conducted the survey, said: “What is interesting is the general expectation across age groups that someone in the ‘older’ bracket will look and behave in a particular way. But with an ageing population, and working beyond retirement age becoming the norm, the reality is that many older people are challenging the ‘pipe and slippers’ stereotype.”

Eight out of 10 people in the survey believed you are only as old as you feel while 76 per cent intend to enjoy their youth for as long as possible. However, more than half were worried about getting old, losing memory, becoming ill and deteriorating physically.

Which, if you ask me, sounds like the kind of thing you should take out life insurance to protect yourself from… wait a minute! Sneaky, Kathryn McLaughlin of Engage Mutual life insurance, sneaky!

Odder still is the fact that Engage Mutual published the exact same story back in 2011 (as featured in the Daily Mail and the Mirror, amongst others), with almost identical entries in their top 50 list, many of which expressed in identical terms – further confirming that these reflect not the open responses of the survey takers, but the desired answers of the survey makers.

Perhaps they didn’t realise that constantly repeating yourself is a sign of old age…

“Some accents are better than others!” says casino firm trying to get into the newspapers

To be filed neatly away in the ‘nope, not a clue’ drawer, we had the revelation in a number of news sources recently that the Essex accent is hard to stomach:

WILL THE TOWIE STARS JUST SHUT UUP?

THE Essex accent made famous by TOWIE has been voted worst in Britain.

The trademark twang of babes Sam, 22, and Billie Faiers, 23, and fellow stars in the hit ITV reality show bombed in a new study.

Brits were asked to name their favourite accent and just 1% chose Essex, where the TOWIE cast tell each other to “shuut uup!

Source: Daily Star, 23 January 2013

Shuuutuup! Essex accent voted least attractive

A controversial new poll is set to be the talk of Essex after naming the county’s accent as the least attractive in the English language.

Source: Metro.co.uk, 22 January 2013

Shaaht aahp! The Essex accent is revealed to be the worst in Britain as women admit to swooning over a soft Irish twang

The Irish accent is the most popular in Britain, a survey revealed yesterday.

More than a quarter of people questioned said they prefer listening to a soft Irish lilt to any other manner of speech and women were particularly keen on the accent.

Those polled found the least attractive was the Essex accent, popularised by the stars of The Only Way Is Essex such as Amy Childs, Mark Wright and Gemma Collins and it scored just ONE per cent.

Source: Daily Mail, 22 January 2013

The source for all of these stories – which essentially amount to a local-newspaper-pleasing ‘some accents are better than others’? 

The survey, conducted by online casino RoxyPalace.com, asked 1000 people to name their favourite accent.

I must admit, I can’t see an angle in this one – sometimes, whatever gets you into the press is justification enough. Clearly, it works so well, you could barely call it a gamble.

“The Harry Potter films are still popular!” says film company looking to be in the news

A nice, simple story, here: pick a name people know, and use it to promote yourself in The Telegraph, The Metro and the Daily Star:

HERMIONE GRANGER A ROLE MODEL

HARRY Potter sidekick Hermione Granger has been voted the best big-screen role model in a poll of young film fans.

The brainy student, played in the films by Emma Watson, 22, picked up 19% of the votes.

Source: Daily Star, 7 January 2013

The story was placed to promote the charity ‘Filmclub’ and it’s associated commercial sponsor LOVEFILM, who know that putting a film star’s name onto a press release and tying in the name of a popular film series will get their own name advertised in the mainstream media cheaply and reliably.

The Love Hearts PR Swizzle

February 12th, 2012

“Britain’s most romantic workplace? Love Heart factory, where 61 couples met, claims to be most lovestruck factory” declared the Daily Mail yesterday.

The makers of Love Hearts sweets claim to be the most romantic workplace in the country, because an unusually high number of their staff are said to be married to each other. 

Jeremy Dee, director at Swizzels Matlow, said: “One couple even used to pass Love Hearts down the production line to each other before they got chatting in the canteen. Love Hearts clearly inspire romance.”

Clearly.

Appearing just three days before Valentines day, it proved to be quite a popular story too, having also been taken up by the Telegraph, Mirror,  Metro and Express, so far (I’ll spare you the links). 

Jeremy even went as far as to deny that the figures were ‘deliberately released around Valentine’s Day in a cynical ploy to sell more sweets’, saying:

“We knew anecdotally that many were either married to each other or going out with each other, but we just did a quick ask around to find out how many were together. It’s a very close-knit place.”

Which is odd, given this diary entry in yesterday’s Independent:

Sometimes you have to admire these public relations people for the ingenuity and effort they put into trying to whip up interest in something that is truly, deeply, utterly uninteresting.

This one came yesterday from a PR person identifying herself only as Rachael: “The Swizzels Matlow factory in Derbyshire, home to the iconic Love Hearts sweets, is in the running for the most romantic workplace in Britain, after love blossomed for 61 couples. One in four of the factory’s workforce is in a relationship with a fellow colleague.”

Oops.