Tag Archives: tom morgan

“Possessions are really important!” says cashback website

Society’s status symbols have changed from ponies to pools

SYMBOLS of success now include a high-performance car, a nanny and a swimming pool in the back garden, a study revealed yesterday.

The survey showed just how much times have changed in the space of a generation.

Thirty years ago, a dishwasher, a mobile phone and a colour TV were thought of as signs of having money.

In comparison, to be judged a success now you need to travel in business or first class, own a second home and have a designer watch.

Source: Daily Express, 21 April 2014

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From dishwashers to swimming pools: How status symbols have been upgraded over the past 30 years

Gone are the days of showing off a cordless phone, dishwasher and conservatory to make your friends jealous.

Because symbols of success are now considered to include high performance cars, a nanny and a swimming pool in the back garden.

A study of 2,000 Britons shows how much times have changed in the space of one generation, with items used to show off wealth in the 1980s, such as microwaves, colour TVs and mobiles now considered nothing more than ordinary.

Source: Daily Mail, 21 April 2014

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While this pair of articles may ostensibly explore the relationship between status symbols past and present, the real purpose is to highlight just how important it is to have the latest must-have, to be valid in today’s society:

The survey of 2,000 Britons also found that four in 10 believe people place more importance on status symbols now than in previous generations.

Why such importance? Because this article was created by Bad PR regulars One Poll and placed into the papers by an online cashback site, whose very business model relies on people spending:

Andy Oldham, managing director of cashback website Quidco.com, said: “Things our parents grew up dreaming of owning – a dishwasher, colour TV and even a mobile phone – are now so normal that almost everyone has them.

“One thing that remains is the desire to have the best of the best and be a success.”

“Two things working together is good!” says makers of two-tone chocolate bars

Fish ‘n’ chips beats tea and biscuits as the nation’s favourite double-act

FISH and chips, tea and biscuits, Morecambe and Wise. Any one without the other is unthinkable.
Now a list has been compiled of Britain’s top 50 favourite pairings ranging from Marks and Spencer to Wallace and Gromit and Posh and Becks.

The survey of 1,000 adults put fish and chips in first place but also recognised that the seaside favourite would be no good without salt and vinegar.

Source: Daily Express, 22 April 2014

Fish and chips, tea and biscuits and Morecambe and Wise are named as Britain’s greatest-ever double acts

It is a British tradition that has brought joy to millions of families for more than 150 years.

Now one of Britain’s favourite dishes, fish and chips, has been voted as the country’s greatest-ever double act.

The meal polled above the likes of Posh and Becks and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in a survey of the top 50 British combinations.

The survey asked 1,000 adults to choose their favourite British pairing, from areas such as comedy, music, food, business or sport.

Source: Daily Mail, 21 April 2014

These type of list-based PR stories crop up from time to time, and are rarely anything other than confusing and vague. What’s better, Morecambe and Wise or Fish and Chips? In what world is that a valid question to ask?

Well, technically, in the world of nonsense PR – specifically in this case for a chocolatier:

The survey was commissioned by chocolate makers Elizabeth Shaw to launch their Flutes chocolate batons range.

This is where the PR-crowbar comes into play – Flutes chocolate batons are a mix of crispy and creamy, which links back to double acts because:

A spokesman said: “We love our double acts in this country, from Posh and Becks to cheese and crackers.

“They all show just how well two different elements can go together to create something magical, whether it is showbusiness, sport, food or business.”

Sometimes the appalling flimsiness of PR amazes even me.

“Men turn into their fathers!” says TV channel promoting old comedies

Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you’ve embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father.

It’s a startling moment in any man’s life.

You’re sat on the sofa keenly scrutinising the money pages of the newspaper, looking forward to giving the lawn a good mowing and finding yourself unusually excited about an upcoming sale at B&Q, when it hits you (if you can keep your eyes open long enough): you’ve turned into your dad.

It’s enough to make you slip on your sensibly priced comfortable shoes and retreat to your man cave with a pint of bitter.

Source: Independent, 17 April 2014

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It seems all men are destined to become their fathers – it’s a message carried not only in the Independent, but also in the Daily MailDaily Express and Daily Star. With so many convergent sources, it must be true… or, just maybe, it might be PR for a TV channel running a ‘Dad Dancing’ competition:

Steve North, General Manager of UKTV channel Gold said: ‘The future looks bright for men, more sleep, having your very own chair, letting loose on the dance floor and finding ourselves funny – it seems 38 is the age men officially lose their inhibitions

Source: Daily Mail, 17 April 2014

And why the focus on getting old and turning into your father? The Daily Mail carries the crucial quote from North:

‘The best way to ward off the top dad-ism sign of falling asleep in the front room is by tuning into Gold’s Easter schedule featuring Only Fools and Horses, the Royle Family and the Vicar of Dibley.’

Embrace it, fellas – turn into your dad, and you can enjoy the same tired old sitcoms he was watching 20 years ago!

“Dressing like your friend is a good way to compliment him!” says men’s clothing retailer

“Dressing like your friend is a good way to compliment him!” says men’s clothing retailer

Ticking the ‘blokey bloke-bloke’ box perfectly, we have this Express story highlighting exactly how proper blokes don’t go around doing girly silly things like being nice to each other. Or so one particular menswear retailer would like you to think:

Martin Roberts of menswear brand Jacamo, which carried out the poll of 1,502 men, said: “The idea of a ‘man code’ is something most blokes would recognise – it takes different forms but having our own language means we can speak freely, wherever we are.”

“Women are more attractive than men, and can be good ego accessories!” says app about looks

“Women are more attractive than men, and can be good ego accessories!” says app about looks

We have something of a mixed bag of genderism to unpack in this story from the Express: firstly, the implication that men are less attractive than women, which comes with a whole host of problematic attendant assumptions around the value of looks in one gender or another, and the related value of that particular gender. It’s flattering and helpful to neither men nor women.

Plus, we have the equally insidious suggestion that having an attractive woman on one’s arm is a boost to the self-esteem of men. Clearly this sets up all manner of implications, from the reduction of women to a mere accessory to male ego, all the way to the definition of masculinity being reflected and represented by the attractiveness of partner a man can attract.

In a few short sentences, we’ve some pretty ugly assumptions and unhelpfully genderist messages sent – and to what purpose?

But how do ugly men end up with a beautiful girl who might usually be out of their league?

Well, being funny, a good listener and having nice manners are the key attributes, according to the survey by lookalikes site Celebalike.com.

All this, simply to advertise an app about celebrity lookalikes? Was it really worth it? Well, if you were the makers of the app surveying the headlines, or if you were Bad PR regulars OnePoll, the company hired to produce the ‘data’ behind this story, you might well think it was worth it.

“People are using eggs more often!” says egg spokesperson

Few fads from the 1980s have stood the test of time; leg warmers, perms, power ballads and keyboard ties have all long-since been consigned to the great neon-lit dancehall in the sky. Now, it seems, we’ve a new addition to the list, according to the Daily Express:

Home cooks shun microwave

THEY were the must-have kitchen gadget of the 1980s.

But Britons are now ditching microwaves and ready meals and are cooking their dishes from scratch.

Nearly one in four of the 2,000 people polled by British Lion eggs said either they did not own a microwave or it was “completely redundant”. Seven out of 10 said that when time was tight they would rustle up a quick dish from fresh ingredients. Just one in five people said they would turn to their microwave.

Source: Daily Express, 26 January 2013


Think of the microwaves, oh won’t somebody please think of the microwaves.

Of course, it would be simple to imagine this story was placed by Phillips or Bosch, reminding people of the irreplaceable value the microwave. That would make sense. However, it speaks volumes about the nature of commercial PR and these worthless surveys that the real sponsors of this story are the polar opposite:

Nearly one in four of the 2,000 people polled by British Lion eggs said either they did not own a microwave or it was “completely redundant”. Seven out of 10 said that when time was tight they would rustle up a quick dish from fresh ingredients. Just one in five people said they would turn to their microwave.

People are now so adept at cooking that the microwave is redundant – instead they’re relying on the true essentials in life… like eggs. And we know this is true, because a company which sells eggs commissioned OnePoll to create a survey to tell people how essential eggs are.

“Being around the mother-in-law at Christmas is a pain!” says hotel firm

It’s a tradition almost as old as Christmas itself: the stereotypical unbearable mother-in-law. Take the Daily Express, a little before Christmas:

MOTHER-IN-LAW BOTTOM OF CHRISTMAS GUEST LIST

IT’S official – the mother-in-law is the most dreaded dinner guest at Christmas, according to a new poll.

She pipped mother as the least welcome face at the festive get-together, followed by father-in-law, father and ex-partner.

At the other end of the popularity scale, TV presenter and comic actor Stephen Fry was named the dream Christmas dinner guest.

Source: Daily Express, 21 December 2012

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So, it seems that every Northern working men’s comic from the 1970s was right, and it really is the mother-in-law who haunts the existence of adults around the country. Or, perhaps, this is a piece of PR promoting an agenda…

Fry beat Take Me Out host Paddy McGuinness and comedians Miranda Hart, Paul O’Grady and Russell Brand in the survey of 2,000 people by hotel chain Travelodge.

In fact, it’s a press release put out by Travelodge, which itself focuses on the comic angle, rattling off newspaper-friendly celebrity names at a rate of knots, with the aim of naming someone plausible who’s face the newspapers would like to put on their pages:

TURKEY WITH A DASH OF LAUGHTER PLEASE

Britons are craving laughter at the Christmas dinner table as comedians top the list of ‘ideal’ Christmas lunch guests

We are a nation in need of desperate laughter as Britain’s top comedians including Stephen Fry, Paddy McGuiness, Miranda Heart, Paul O Grady and Alan Carr dominate this year’s Travelodge ideal Christmas lunch guest poll.

For the first time ever royalty, celebrity chefs and musicians have been snubbed in favour of our most loved comedians. In a quest for more laughter this year’s poll leads with Stephen Fry, renowned for entertaining his five million Twitter followers with his intellectual wit and humorous tales. The comedian, also known as one half of the duo ‘Fry & Laurie’, moved up from last year’s number two spot to this year’s number one position.

In second place the nation opted to keep their light-on for ‘Take Me Out’ host Paddy McGuinness as their ideal Christmas dinner guest. Famous for his ‘Paddy-isms’ on his dating show, the Bolton born comic beat his sidekick, Peter Kay, who debuted much further up the list at number seven this year.

In third place Britons chose the self acclaimed ‘giant’ of comedy and award winning comedienne Miranda Hart, star of BBC Two’s Sitcom ‘Miranda’ to join them for the most important meal of the year.

Source: Travelodge.co.uk, 20 December 2012

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Given the celebrity angle leading the press release, where did the mother-in-law research come from? Further down the piece it appears:

The research also revealed the Mother-In-Law is still the most dreaded Christmas guest, followed by Mum as both women know best and will interfere with the day’s planned proceedings. Sixty eight per cent of women said it really annoys them when their Mother-In-Law or Mother tires (sic) to take over on Christmas Day. Thirty one per cent of respondents said it makes them feel inadequate and not a good host. A fifth of women said if it gets too much on Christmas day they will use the excuse of having a migraine so that they can have a sneaky catnap.

Given that the research was actually an online poll, complete with the inherent flawed methodology of paying people an incredibly small amount to complete a survey, inadvertently incentivising respondents to focus more on response time than accuracy, it’s entirely plausible that what Travelodge really picked up on was their respondents familiarity with a well-worn and clichéd stereotype, rather than their actual experience and feelings. A stereotype which then becomes the lead in the reportage of their findings, reinforcing the stereotype so that the next time a poll asks about mother-in-laws, we can confirm it all over again. In this way, the cycle feeds itself, with the newspapers and the PR companies harvesting the self-perpetuating loop to feed their own interests.

And, in case it wasn’t clear, what is Travelodge’s particular interest in stressing the unbearable nature of the nation’s mother-in-laws?

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: “However, savvy Britons are forgoing imposing on their families and avoiding the dodgy sofa and bed by booking themselves into a nearby hotel. This actually gives both parties free time to enjoy the holiday season and make the most of their time together, rather than getting under each other’s feet.”

“Bad weather puts us off sex!” says creepy firm still asking men to pay to for female holiday companions

July 23rd, 2012

The shocking British summer does more than put a dampener on our barbecue plans – it also dampens the fires of our passions. Or so the Daily Express would have had you believe recently:

NO SEX PLEASE…IT’S RAINING

THE wet weather has put a dampener on everything this summer – including sex.

As Britain flounders in its wettest summer for decades, a new survey has found the torrential rain has been a passion killer which puts both men and women off love-making.

See, they even used that obvious line about putting a dampener on things. However, who commissioned the survey?

The dating website MissTravel.com polled its 20,000 British members on top holiday aphrodisiacs.

Yep, our old friends at MissTravel.com – the ‘wealthy men paying for attractive girls to go on holiday with them’ site, which recently appeared on this very blog after the revelation that women who go on holiday are more likely to sleep with strangers (the implication to their customer base being obvious).

And just in case the implications weren’t obvious enough, here’s the head of the business to bludgeon anyone still not sure what he’s getting at:

Website founder Brandon Wade said there had been a surge in membership with the wet weather.

He said: “Who wants to stay in rainy Britain when they can enjoy the sunshine? Travel itself is the greatest aphrodisiac.”

If consenting adults want to enter into an arrangement whereby companionship and even sex is traded for travel or money, I’ve little issue with that – what bugs me is the pseudosociological truisms trotted out by the company in order to get press attention, and the hook-line-and-sinker approach of Express journalist Tom Morgan in publishing these blatant media-baiting sentiments.

This isn’t news; this is an advert.

Update: Many thanks to Sean Ellis, who pointed out that these ‘findings’ directly contradict previous ‘findings’. From July 1st, 2010:

Rain evidently does a lot to put people in a sexy mood, as 80 percent of U.S. adults say they have had sex during a rainstorm, a survey indicates.

The brand being promoted at the time?

A survey by the makers of Trojan Brand Condoms found 83 percent of Americans rate rain as the best weather for sexual intercourse, while seven in 10 say they have had sex during extreme weather, such as a thunderstorm, a tornado or a hurricane.

Absolutely perfect.