Archive for December, 2008

Donkeying around

December 22, 2008


In my last post, I considered the growing popularity of online shopping.  I spotted an unusual story this morning, which illustrates the flipside of the coin: residents in Chalford, Gloucestershire, are buying their Christmas vegetables from Teddy the donkey.  Reviving an old tradition, Teddy works tirelessly every Saturday morning to deliver groceries and other treats to houses inaccessible by car. 


In a world increasingly dominated by the Internet, I took a moment this morning to contemplate the fact that there are still a number of areas where the digital age has yet to make its mark… And Teddy the donkey is living proof. 

Teddy the Chalford Donkey

Teddy the Chalford Donkey

Shoe me the money…

December 22, 2008


You may remember President Bush’s encounter with a pair of rapidly moving size 10s last week.

Whilst the President escaped without a shoe-shiner, only a few hours later the puns were flying too: “It’s shoe time”, “Back at shoe”, “Arch enemy” and “The shoe must go on” to name but a few.

One of the best was “Sock and Awe”, which prompted Alex Tew to set up an online game in which, you guessed it, you hurl shoes at the President.

The site sold on eBay for over £5,000 to Fubra, a company looking to cash in on the massive number of viewers flocking there.

Well, I got a kick out of it…

X Factor or internet factor?

December 16, 2008

Alexandra Burke surprised us all when she won the X Factor last Saturday. Well, that’s a lie, it wasn’t a surprise to be quite honest – I thought it was obvious she should win. The bookies have made hundreds of thousands of pounds out of her winning, and look set to make much more as she’s storming the charts, well on her way to becoming this year’s Christmas number one. Her single had sold more than 105,000 copies since going on sale at midnight on Saturday, less than two hours after she won the fifth series of the ITV1 reality show.

Is Lilys success down to MySpace?

Is Lily's success down to MySpace?

So, the question I ask is this: is the accessibility, the ease of downloading songs nowadays, the main reason she’s already so successful? Are people that much more tech savvy now that they know they can acquire her song without having to leave the comfort of their own home? I’d hazard a guess at yes.

However, a bigger question to ask, is that of the internet: is the internet the main reason why artists are so successful today? Is it not so much a case of really great music being made, but instead, being made so easily available to buy at such a low cost that people buy it just for the sake of it?  

Would Lily Allen be so well known now had it not been for MySpace? I sense not, and that’s one of the joys (or pitfalls) of the internet. Stores like iTunes and recently, Amazon’s MP3 store are further compounding this surge in music downloads, as are apps like Pandora and Shazam on the iPhone. Both Pandora and Shazam link back to the internet, as when using the app, you are directed to the internet site related to them to buy the song you’re hearing.

All in all, the internet is most definitely a contributing factor in the success – both monetary and in terms of popularity – of some of today’s music stars. Not all of them, however, warrant their success…but that’s a whole separate rant!

Dumb and DRMer

December 12, 2008

It emerged recently that Spore (the much anticipated evolutionary epic) has become the most pirated video game of all time, according to the TorrentFreak weblog. It clocked 1.7 million downloads (a figure only slightly short of its legitimate sales figures).This revelation came despite the rather draconian DRM software protection that was bundled with the game which limited legitimate users to only being able to install the game three times. (And also caused a host of technical issues for users).


Ironically, it was the inclusion of DRM that reportedly drove so many potential customers to download illegal versions of the game (although EA’s corporate executives may still deny this link and see the figures as a sign that piracy is everywhere).

As the campaign to rid the world of DRM gathers force ( even industry veterans are now speaking out against it. Gabe Newell of Valve Software, recently said that current DRM strategies “are just dumb” and should seek to add value to the customer, not turn them away from buying games. A sustained public backlash has also begun, with customers awarding DRM protected games 1/5 stars on Amazon.

At the end of the day, it’s clear DRM does not stop games being pirated. So surely it would be better to release games without security systems that actively enrage legitimate users? 

Ambiguous headline tickles man

December 8, 2008

The ambiguous headline is a rare and beautiful thing. As PR’s, we scan thousands of headlines every week looking for news relevant to our clients, and most of the time they do exactly what they say on the tin. But every now and again an absolute corker pops up. Perhaps they are honest mistakes – the result of a particularly busy day in the office – or perhaps the journalist has a wicked sense of humour.

I noticed a headline on the Yorkshire Post website last week that sparked my interest more than usual. It read: ‘Horsewoman died in freak show accident’. Now who else instantly thought of a half-woman/half-horse creature that died among other oddities in a freak-show accident?

Obviously this wasn’t the case and the headline actually referred to a very sad story about a woman who died in horse-show accident. You can see what the headline meant but it created a completely different meaning.

A quick Google search later and I had found a list of some classic ambiguous headlines that have appeared over the years. A few of the best were:
• Prostitutes appeal to Pope
• Enraged cow injures farmer with axe
• Iraqi head seeks arms
• Queen Mary having bottom scraped
• Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers

There are also the ridiculously stupid headlines, which go beyond explaining the story, and explain the simply obvious:
• Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say
• Sneak attack by Soviet Bloc not foreseen
• Blue skies unless its cloudy

Take a closer look next time you read a paper and let me know if you spot any more gems.

Online shopping boom as Christmas threat approaches

December 8, 2008




Today is the day that we all start to panic about our earlier lack of enthusiasm regarding Christmas shopping.  Socks for your Grandad, Turkish Delight for your fat uncle, some stupidly overpriced soap box set for your great aunt, probably in exchange for some cheap perfume which will bring you out in a rash.  Ah, the joys of the festive season! 


But if you don’t fancy jostling your way down Oxford Street with your nose wedged firmly between the armpit of a harassed father desperately trying to find the last James Bond figurine in London and the exhaust pipe of a double-decker bus, then don’t despair… just use your lunch hour to do some Internet shopping instead.


Today is forecast to be the busiest Internet shopping day of the year, with £320m forecast to be spent online.  With some 29 million people are expected to use the Internet to buy Christmas presents this year, the Internet trade body IMRG says the UK’s Christmas online retail sales could reach £13.6bn ($19.9bn). The peak shopping hour will take place between 1 and 2pm today when £28m may be spent online in an hour.


What better than doing your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own PC?  There is, of course, no guarantee that your goods will turn up in time for Christmas, but that’s another matter….


Word of the Week

December 5, 2008





   • noun a student or lover of archery

  • adjective relating to archers and archery

   — ORIGIN from Toxophilus, a name invented by the English scholar Roger Ascham, used as the title of his treatise on archery (1545), from Greek toxon ‘bow’ + -philos ‘loving’.

The Mousetrap

December 5, 2008


Everyone loves mice

Everyone loves mice

The consumer technology giant Logitech has just seen the billionth computer mouse roll off its production lines. Their publicity machine merrily declared: “It’s rare in human history that a billionth of anything has been shipped by one company”. Well, actually that must happen quite a lot. If there are one billion mice, it stands to reason that there must also be a huge number of monitors, keyboards and other technology – not to mention companies that produce FMCGs…

Regardless, the first computer mouse ever produced is just about to hit 40 years of age. It was 9 December 1968 when Douglas C. Engelbart and his group of researchers at Stanford University put the first mouse through its paces. But Gartner analyst Steve Prentice has claimed that “the mouse will no longer be mainstream in three to five years”, given the arrival of touch-screen technology and other advances. Seems like a hit or mice statement to me.

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