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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.