Tag Archives: Opinion Matters

“People find it hard keeping up with their neighbours’ lifestyles” says loans company

July 24th, 2012

Today’s generation is more obsessed with materialism and consumerism than ever before. This much, we know – it’s one of the truisms of our age, not least because of the unquestioning way the media parrots this very message on a regular basis. See, for example, the Daily Mail, July 23rd:

Keeping up with the Joneses’: Comparing ourselves to our Facebook friends now at a whole new level

Everyone is guilty of having a quick flick through their Facebook friends’ holiday snaps from time to time.

But according to a new study, the common idiom ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, which refers to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social caste, has been taken to a whole new level thanks to social media.

To fail to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority and now it has been revealed that one in five Facebook and Twitter users admit they now constantly compare themselves to others based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their ‘friends’ on social media sites.

The message is clear – in this connected consumerist age, our increased access to the social media status updates and therefore to the social status updates of our friends makes us feel inferior, causing us to become more competitive. Specifically, what are we meant to be competing on? Fortunately, we’re given a list:

The latest study by personal loans provider savviloans.co.uk, shows that ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is now a high-tech affair, with the constant stream of pictures and status updates of holidays, purchases, weddings, babies, new homes and other boasts leading to the rest of us questioning our own lifestyles.

Of course, regular readers would have spotted that the ‘study’ was conducted by savviloans.co.uk – a personal loans company, who you might argue have a strong commercial incentive to emphasise the importance of keeping up with our neighbours, and buying things we can’t afford.

A quick google for ‘savviloans.co.uk press release’ finds us the source of the story – it really is that simple. 

From here we can see that the savviloan’s parent company Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance hired Leeds-based PR firm Hatch Communications, who in turn commissioned a survey via polling firm Opinion Matters, which produced this whole story.

What’s more, we can then take the text of the press release over to Churnalism.com, where we can see that Bianca London of the Daily Mail, who apparently wrote this article, actually took 85% of the press release, adding only 15% of her own take on the story:

To emphasise just how remarkably similar these two stories are, I pulled both the original press release and the Daily Mail article (apparently written by Bianca London) into Word documents, and flicked between them, like this:

Which I think says it all.

“Paris is a great place to propose, girls!” says London to Paris train operator

March 7th, 2012

Last week was a Leap Day. I don’t usually feel the need to preface posts with a calendric context, but it seems somehow crucial this time, given that a Leap Day is a day in which an archaic tradition dictates women are allowed to do that most shocking and inappropriate thing of proposing to a man – a practice which is violently banned throughout the rest of the year, punishable by death under a law which stretches back to the time Catherine the Great attempted to wed a horse, merely so as to make their first time together really meaningful, or something.

OK, the latter half of that last sentence was entirely untrue, but you’d be hard pushed to believe that the notion of a woman proposing to her beau wasn’t highly illegal at every other point in the year had you so much as existed in the UK last week, given the way in which various and numerous facets of the media were falling over themselves (and each other) to talk-up the ‘magical lady proposal’ day.

It’s as if radio stations, inane TV mid-morning magazine shows, tabloids and glossy magazines were somehow clutching at any straw suitably palatably fluffy to pad out their content. Funny that.

We had The Sun, following five ‘wannabe brides’ as they did the unthinkable, the Scottish Sun reporting on three Scottish women who popped the question, the Mirror ambushing men conviently-closely to a prominently-mentioned bridal boutique, the Daily Mail bizarrely flogging an iPhone app, and many more.

Given the ubiquity of the storyline, it’s little surprise to see PR types fully took the opportunity to get their clients in the news, with this fine effort making the Daily Mail:

Single girls would leap at proposing …but they would still expect to be bought an engagement ring!

In an ordinary year, they might be happy to wait for the man to do the asking.

But almost half of unmarried women would take advantage of a leap year to propose to their partner on February 29 – though two thirds would still expect their partner to buy them a ring, a study has found.

It also revealed that three quarters of men nationwide would have ‘no problem’ with being proposed to.

In Bristol and Leeds, this jumps to 90 per cent. But those from Belfast are the least accommodating, with just 50 per cent open to the idea, the study by Eurostar found.

Rather amusingly, the press release which formed the basis (if not verbatim, this time) of the Daily Mail story led with the clunky title “Voulez-vous vous marier avec moi?…. but only if you’ll buy the ring!” – a continental affair unsurprisingly rejected by the Daily Mail. 

If it weren’t already apparent what the hook to this story is, it’s put beyond a doubt with:

When it comes to ideal locations, a third of those questioned for the Eurostar study said they thought Paris was the most romantic city in Europe, followed by Venice and Rome.  

Mary Walsh, from Eurostar, said: ‘It seems modern men have met their match in the modern woman, with thousands of ladies planning to get down on one knee this leap year.

‘Every year we see a jump in bookings to Paris for Valentines Day but this year we’ve also seen a surge on February 29, compared to a typical Wednesday.

So, the message is clear: “Girls, why not propose to your fella? By the way, we hear Paris is nice, and apparently you can get there by train these days…”

Stay classy, Eurostar!