Tag Archives: nathan rao

“Biscuits are better than beer, sex, sexy beer and beery sex!” says biscuit maker

May 29th was ‘National Biscuit Day’, If you’re wondering why that’s even a thing – don’t worry, it isn’t. As is almost always the case we these national day/week/month/millenia tales, the whole exercise is nothing more than an excuse to peg product-laden stories into the press under the auspices of topicality. Take this effort, featured in the Daily Express:

Fancy a beer? We’d prefer a biscuit! McVitie’s survey reveals Britain’s love for treats

THE great British biscuit is a vital part of our national lifestyle, a survey reveals.

Most people eat an average of two a day.

And nearly every British household – 99.2 per cent – buys biscuits during the course of a year.

Even young people love a rich tea or a digestive with a cuppa so much that the study of 2,000 people reveals 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds prefer a biscuit to a glass of wine or a pint of beer.

Source: Express, 30 May 2014

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Preferring a biscuit over a beer might sound an unlikely choice – although, that said, a real ale doesn’t dunk quite as well as a digestive. Fortunately, the Express’s Nathan Rao (who likely contributed barely a word to this pr-driven story) has the weight of academia behind the claims in his article:

Food scientist Dr Stuart Farrimond said eating biscuits with a cup of tea makes them taste better.

He said: “The science shows us that hot drinks enhance the natural ­flavours of the biscuit because more flavour molecules are released in the mouth when the biscuit is warmed and moistened.

“In Britain, biscuits have a particular cultural significance and are a customary part of the mid-morning tea break.

“Research has shown that of all foods, biscuits and chocolate are among those that trigger the most pleasure and excitement.”

Of course, the bought-in academic isn’t the only talking head in the article – we also hear from the spokesperson for the company who paid for the spurious survey behind this story, and behind National Biscuit Day:

The research by maker McVitie’s found our choice of biscuit changes depending on our mood.

McVitie’s spokesman Sarah Heynen said: “There’s no doubt that we’re a nation of biscuit lovers.

“We know that our biscuits have a surprisingly important place in people’s lives – people relate to them in a very emotional way.”

That said, toppling a tipple wasn’t the most audacious claim McVities made for their fare during National Biscuit Day – that honour goes to the following, in the Mirror:

No sex please – we prefer biscuits! One in six Britons choose a Hobnob over nookie

Research to mark National Biscuit Day on Thursday also found that a quarter of us would give up booze instead of going without a Chocolate Digestive or two

Biscuit-mad Brits would give up sex for a packet of their favourite dunking snacks, a study has revealed.

One in six would rather have a Hobnob than nookie and a quarter would give up booze instead of going without a Chocolate Digestive or two.

Source: Mirror, 28 May 2014

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Perhaps fittingly, the Mirror ran their own in-page poll on what their readers would rather do – ‘Have loads of sex’ or ‘Eat loads of biscuits’, with results somewhat crumbling the McVities PR claims:

Poll - Q: What would YOU rather do?  A1: Have loads of sex = 64%; A2: Eat loads of biscuits = 36%.

Still, given the unequivocal nature of the question and the lack of pretence of being representative and bias-free, we can probably place more stock in the Mirror’s straw poll than in McVities’ original opinion survey and ensuing PR campaign.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dunk a HobNob in a Hobgoblin.

“It’s important to get Christmas dinner right!” says supermarket, via marketing scientists

“It’s important to get Christmas dinner right!” says supermarket, via marketing scientists

Christmas is just around the corner, and with it the annual stress over getting that family meal just right. Fortunately, research published in the Daily Express (by Nathan Rao, who potentially contributed barely a word to it) has the answer to your prayers: a scientific formula to follow.

Admittedly, if your prayers involve a scientific formula published in the Express and Daily Mail, to guide your Christmas Dinner preparations… well, you have a very curious idea of religion. But, I guess, evidence that yours is the one true god, so, y’know, Mazel Tov.

First things first – just how scientific is this article? Well, it’ll come as little surprise to you to find the scientist behind this is one David Lewis – founder of neuro-marketing company Mindlab International, and no stranger to this very blog. David has appeared in the press a number of times over the last few years, often (in my opinion) trading his scientific legitimacy in for publicity.

Personally, I find this deeply problematic – not least given that many people’s only experience of science is what they see in the newspapers. Stories such as this paint a skewed view of what legitimate science is, portraying scientists as little more than zany stereotypes, conducting silly work. Which leads to comments like this, from the Daily Mail story:

Really! I’m sure the science community has better things to do than spend time on this!! It’s the one time of the year when your definitely allowed to have a few extra spuds!

What the commenter – and many like him – doesn’t realise is that it’s likely no real science was done in the name of this article. Rather, a company looking to garner some attention in the press found an academic willing to lend their name – and with it, the legitimacy of their profession – to what is in essence an advert.

Which leads us to the company behind this story:

The perfect plate was created for Aldi by TV food psychologist, Dr David Lewis, of Channel 4’s Secret Eaters and eating expert Dr Margaret Yufera-Leitch…

An Aldi spokesperson added: ‘Everyone likes to treat themselves at Christmas but the traditional turkey dinner is the one meal where people feel most pressured that everything should be perfect…

‘By shopping at Aldi, families really can relax knowing that they are serving top quality, award-winning foods without breaking the bank.’

And by hiring scientists like David Lewis, Aldi can secure legitimate-seeming stories in at least two national newspapers, without breaking the bank.

“You can get a good Christmas dinner from a supermarket!” says supermarket

“You can get a good Christmas dinner from a supermarket!” says supermarket

“Kids don’t know anything about geography!” says new geography iPad app

“Kids don’t know anything about geography!” says new geography iPad app

Kids today, not only do they not know they’re born, but clearly they also haven’t a clue where they were born, given their appalling lack of geographical knowledge. If only there were some kind of technological solution to this knowledge gap…

The survey was carried out by Travelzoo, creators of a new iPad app called Map The World. A spokesman for the firm said: “There are a few children who don’t know the most basic geography.

“Children can get a lot out of knowing more about the world they live in. It will stay with them for the rest of their life.”

Of course, given that this story (which by-line author Nathan Rao of the Express contributed less than half of the copy to) was created by Bad PR regulars One Poll, there’s a good reason to be sceptical of these figures – especially where it comes to what children do and don’t know. Isn’t that right, Mr Gove?

“Getting a good night’s sleep is very important!” says bed manufacturer

Your sleeping habits were recently of great interest to the Daily Express and Daily Mail:

Snoring is OUT, threesomes are IN (that’s you, him and your teddy bear): Britain’s sleeping habits revealed

It might not seem a lot to ask from a loved one. But a good night’s sleep, it appears, is one of the things we find most difficult to offer each other.

Millions of Britons are losing vital hours of shut-eye because of a partner’s disturbances.

Not surprisingly, the number one complaint is snoring.

Source: Daily Mail, 3rd October 2013

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The naked truth about our bad bedtime habits

YOU know the honeymoon is well and truly over when your partner complains because you’re not wearing pyjamas in bed.

Sleeping naked is just one of the more unusual gripes that came up in a survey designed to reveal our most annoying bedtime habits.

Snoring is the thing most people find irritating, though 44 per cent of people admit they do it themselves.

Source: Daily Express, 4th October 2013

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Real research? Possibly not, given that both articles (including the one by Nathan Rao of the Express, who likely contributed barely a word to it) are corporate PR for bed manufacturers ‘Dreams’ – as their PR company Fever PR confirm:

This week, Fever has been busy working on a news generation campaign from bed expert Dreams. A survey was commissioned into the nation’s bad habits in bed and revealed that snoring topped the list of infuriating habits and that threesomes are in (you, your partner and your teddy bear!). Coverage hit across the nationals including print (and online) in Daily Express, The Times, Daily Mail, Daybreak as well as regional print and radio.

Our Dreams spokesperson, Chris Daniel and psychologist Emma Kenny are hosting a morning of radio interviews with stations such as Sunrise, BBC Hereford and Worcester. And we’re looking forward to following up these news hits with features leveraging our case study couple, Helen and Matt!

Source: Fever PR, 4th October 2013

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“People hate waiting for replacement cards!” says bank promoting same-day replacement service

October 3rd, 2013

What makes you impatient? Queuing at the Post Office? Counting down the days until Christmas? Waiting for your favourite Bad PR blogger to finally get around to blogging again? It could well be all of those things, and more, if you’re to believe what Nathan Rao of the Daily Express has to say:

Patience? We just don’t have the time for it

WAITING in for a parcel which eventually arrives just before the delivery slot ends is guaranteed to test the most patient of people.

And when it comes to hanging around on the phone, hearing “your call is very important to us” can reduce even the most saint-like to tears.

Britons are becoming less tolerant of being kept waiting as time becomes more precious, new research reveals.

Source: Daily Express, 1st October 2013

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Modern life, it seems, is a frustrating affair, with our lives spent hanging on the telephone and waiting for parcels – disastrous when time is ‘becoming more precious’. Although how and why our time is suddenly more precious than ever before is an unstated major premise, and a recurrent historical theme at that. Modern life is always getting more hectic, and always has been.

As if to demonstrate how hectic modern life has become, and how hard it can be to keep track of everything that’s going on, the Daily Mail decided to cover this story not once but twice, on consecutive days, written by two completely separate journalists. Well done Larisa Brown and Keiran Corcoran.

While it’s tempting to assume this latest outing of an age-old truism stemmed from genuine sociological research, it’s actually far more likely that Nathan Rao of the Express contributed barely a word to this article – given that the entire story was seeded by Barclays in order to highlight the frustration of losing a bank card:

Around a third of 2,000 adults polled said that being left without a credit card after having it lost or stolen will jar their patience.

The research from Barclays found that a third of victims are forced to borrow from friends or family due to the delay in getting a replacement.

Of course, this new research highlighting the frustrations of waiting on replacement bank cards has nothing at all to do with Barclay’s current ad campaign promoting their same-day-replacement promise for lost or stolen bank cards.

“Sleeping in the same bed as someone can be exhausting!” says hotel firm

What’s keeping you awake at night? If you’re anything like me, the answer is stories like those that have been appearing in the Daily Mail and Daily Express of late:

Bickering at bedtime costs us 10 nights of peaceful sleep a year

BICKERING couples lose up to 90 minutes a week of what could have been peaceful sleep time by arguing between the sheets.

Night-time rows flare up around three times a week and over a year could add up to as much as 10 lost eight-hour nights of rest.

Fidgeting, snoring and, ahem, passing wind are just three of the irritations guaranteed to get tempers frayed under the covers according to research by Travelodge. 

Source: Daily Express, 27 February 2013

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Couples lose 90 minutes of sleep a week bickering in bed about snoring, fidgeting and passing wind 

Fidgeting, snoring, passing wind and hogging the duvet – the list of things that couples argue about in bed is endless.

More than a quarter of British couples spend so much time bickering between the sheets that they are losing an average of 90 minutes sleep each week, new research suggests.

The problem is so big that the sleep loss builds up to three full days of missed sleep during a year.

Source: Daily Mail, 27 February 2013

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If that weren’t enough, on top of the article in the Express by Nathan Rao (which I imagine he contributed barely a word to), the paper then went on to double-down, with a follow-up article, cementing the research in the pantheon of PR piffle:

Bedtime battles

A new survey says that many bedrooms are a war zone. So what’s stopping you from having a good night’s sleep?

Bedrooms, we are told by the experts, should be reserved for two things: sleep and having sex. They warn us that the television or laptop can destroy the bedroom’s feng shui, that it should be a place free of distractions, that what couples should aim for is a comfortable love zone where they spend quality time with each other and promote intimacy. 

This is all well and good but let’s get back to the real world. According to research by Travelodge, it emerges that the bedroom is pretty much a war zone such are the night-time rows caused by bedtime behaviour. Whether it’s down to hogging the duvet, watching scary movies or insisting on sharing the mattress space with the family pet, couples lose up to 90 minutes’ sleep a week by bickering about each other’s antisocial habits in the sack. Over a year that’s at least a week’s worth of good kip gone missing. 

Source: Daily Express, 4 March 2013

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By now, dear readers, I can safely assume you’re savvy enough of the Bad PR world to spot the none-too-subtle commissioner of this particular piece of research – hotel group Travelodge.

In fact, locating their press release on their website and then feeding it into Churnalism.com, we discover that Nathan Rao of the Express and Emma Innes of the Daily Mail contributed less than half of the copy to their respective stories, taking the rest directly from Travelodge’s own copy.

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What motive have Travelodge for outlining the battles of bedtime, and the difficulty people have in sharing a bed? While none of the three news articles explain the motivation behind the story, it’s unequivocal in the original press release:

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman said: “Our research has highlighted that bedtime bickering amongst couples is a growing concern across the UK. In some areas such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool couples are losing a week’s worth of sleep a year which is not good news. Therefore in response to this growing issue, we have created a new luxurious bespoke bed which addresses the number one reason for bed bickering which is fidgeting between the sheets.

“The Travelodge Dreamer which is deemed the Rolls Royce of beds boasts a 925 pocket sprung mattress. Each individual spring is designed to follow the natural contour of an individual’s body in order to provide the correct amount of support and comfort. For a couple, this ensures that each individual is much less affected by the movement of their partner, resulting in a good quality night’s sleep. 

“Also to ensure there is a balanced temperature between the sheets, we have introduced a bounce back 10.5 tog duvet which offers the ideal snuggling cover up whilst sleeping.” 

So, ‘sleeping with someone is tricky unless you have the correct bed’, says hotel firm advertising the range of beds they have available. PR this blatant never fails to amuse me, especially the ease with which it passes into the national press. How do the journalists not see straight through it? Perhaps Nathan Rao and Emma Innes are both in need of a good night’s kip…

“Good-looking men style their hair!” says hair-styling product manufacturer

Did you know, celebrity men who are considered to be good-looking are sometimes emulated by other men who’d like to be considered good-looking too? Of course you did, you’re not an idiot. Still, it’s a startling and interesting enough revelation to make both the Daily Express and the Daily Mail:

DAVID BECKHAM HEADS STAMPEDE FOR A NEW HAIRDO

HE seems to change his hairstyle almost as often as wife Victoria changes her dresses.

And whenever David Beckham adopts a new look, thousands of men race to follow suit, according to a new survey.

Source: Daily Express, 9 January 2013

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Beckham is top of the crops! David’s is the hair most UK men envy (while Gary Barlow beats Robert Pattinson into second place)
– Beckham’s ever-changing style won him most fans
– Average British man changes hairstyle only four times during his life…
– ….but spends 24 minutes grooming locks before a night out
– Essex men most likely to check hair EVERY time they see a mirror

He’s had more hair styles than Imelda Marcos has shoes.

And the men of Britain, it seems, have loved them all.

Football star David Beckham has the hairstyle that most men are dying to emulate, a new study has revealed.

Source: Daily Mail, 9 January 2013

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Besides the chance to put a nice big photo of David Beckham into the press – something any tabloid will reliably jump at, even Nathan Rao of the Express (who I imagine contributed barely a word to this story) – what do we have here? We’ve learnt that although David changes his hairstyle often, most British men rarely change it throughout their lives… which means they should really focus on getting it right, I imagine, even if that includes, say, spending money on expensive haircare products:

The father-of-four, 37, beat Take That frontman Gary Barlow – who came second – and Twilight star Robert Pattinson – who nabbed third place – to the top spot of a survey carried out by hair brand Fudge.

What’s more, buying Fudge products can do more for we men than simply bettering our barnets – there are a whole range of important, tangible and entirely-unbiased benefits to buying these products to emulate our heroes, as their spokesman explains:

John Vial, Creative Director for Fudge, said: ‘From Kevin Keegan’s perm to George Best’s sideburns, footballers have always been powerful when it comes to influencing the hair styles of the nation’s men.

‘It’s no surprise that David Beckham is the modern man’s hairstyle icon, his versatile styles are ultimately achievable by the man on the street.

‘The man of the moment’s influence on the hair of the nation confirms that when a sportsman endorses something, it automatically makes it more masculine and ultimately, desirable.’
So, it’s settled: in order to feel more masculine and desirable, we simply have to spend more time – and money – on our hair. Thank you, Fudge!

“Teachers get expensive thank-you presents these days!” says department store selling thank-you presents

Despite this cash-strapped age, parents looking to convince their child’s teacher into giving better grades are going to ludicrous lengths to impress, says unlikely-sounding news articles in the Express and the Daily Mail: 

FORGET APPLES…TODAY’S TREAT FOR THE TEACHER IS A PARADISE HOLIDAY

Parents are giving teachers increasingly lavishing gifts

AN apple on the desk will no longer get you in a teacher’s good books, according to a survey of parents.

Mums and dads are splashing out on expensive and elaborate gifts to win favour for their children.

Some presents are worth hundreds of pounds – including laptops, jewellery and even free holidays.

Source: Daily Express, 12 December 2012

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Modern ways of sucking up: Teeth whitening, trips to holiday homes and laptops among gifts being given to teachers to curry favour
– But teachers still appreciate the cheaper gifts like note cards and pot plants

While many will be tightening their belts this Christmas, there is one group who can still expect to be spoilt.

And no, it’s not the children.

Instead, cxpensive Christmas presents will be lavished on schoolteachers as parents splash out in a bid to curry favour in the classroom.

Despite a cash-strapped festive season, parents are still prepared to blow the budget when it comes to gifts for their children’s teachers.

Source: Daily Mail, 11 December 2012

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That parents spend such vast amounts on their child’s teacher is a shocking and weird notion, I’m sure you’ll agree – if it’s true. What can be said for certain, is that the article featured in both the Express and the Mail comes from a single source, with a clear vested interest in stressing that a good parent who really cares about their child will buy gifts for their child’s teachers:

Debenhams carried out their survey after their personal shoppers reported being approached by customers to help choose suitable gifts for teachers.

However … all that parental effort could well be wasted as some of the top ten Christmas presents teachers claim to appreciate the most, are the least expensive; such as chocolates, a bottle of alcohol, note cards or a pot plant.

Debenhams spokeswoman, Elena Antoniou, said: ‘While it is a lovely thought to buy a gift, we would stress that there are many low-cost options in our stores that would make delightful presents, without the need for any parents to feel they have to go over budget.’

In fact, both the articles in the Express and Daily Mail are derived from the same extensive press release put out by Debenhams, which itself was complete with quotes from teachers, parents and the Good School Guide, providing all the possible depth any news report could ever want, giving the journalist the least amount of work to do themselves:

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It’s fair to say it worked, too – with the Daily Mail reproducing an impressive 91% of the press release in their article. It’s not clear how much of the article in the Express was written by Nathan Rao, however, but it’s possible he contributed barely a word to it.

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“All the cool kids go abroad loads!” says airline firm

British people are more adventurous than ever before, according to new ‘research’. And how exactly does this spirit of adventure manifest itself? From The Daily Express, November 9th 2012:

SURGE IN OVERSEAS TRIPS

THE average adult will travel more than 18,000 miles around the world by the age of 40 – nearly seven times as far as their parents.

A study yesterday revealed the typical 40-year-old has been on at least 13 holidays abroad and 21 in the UK while their parents would have only visited five European countries, clocking up 2,653 miles.

Source: Daily Express, 9th November 2012

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And similarly from the Daily Mail on December 1st 2012:

Adventurous Britons travel seven times further than their parents did by the same age

The average Briton will travel 18,324 miles by the time they reach 40 – almost seven times as far as their parents did by the same age.

Researchers found that on turning 40, the typical adult will have been on at least 13 holidays abroad and another 21 in the UK. 

While today’s Brits are travelling to far flung destinations with their families, on average the previous generation travelled only as far as Italy.

Research shows travellers today are becoming more and more adventurous, with seven in 10 choosing destinations where they can experience unknown cultures and sights.

Source: Daily Mail, 1st December 2012

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The same story also made, at least, the paper editions of The Sun and The Daily Star, as well as the paper edition of the Daily Mail.

While it may well be true that people of the current generation travel more than their parents (in face it’s almost guaranteed to be true), as ever the source of the information is vital in figuring out why this research made the news. 

The poll by British Airways High Life magazine found travellers are increasingly adventurous, with seven in 10 choosing destinations where they can experience unknown cultures and sights.

The research came from British Airways, who have something of a vested interest in promoting the fact that people travel by planes an awful lot.

The research was carried out by polling company One Poll, part of the 72 Point PR company.

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Looking into the press release fully, and it becomes clear what angle British Airways are pushing: ‘to be part of ‘Generation Curious’ you must be adventurous, and jet-set to far flung places of the world… and British Airways will take you there, including to our selected hottest places to travel in 2013’. 

The Churnalism rating? The Daily Mail article took 88% of the original press release,  while Nathan Rao of the Express contributed barely a word, taking 78% of his short article from the BA press release.

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