There’ve been a couple of times in the last week where I’ve been surprised by how little some people understand things – which is kind of surprising, considering what low expectations I have of people in general.
The first of these surprises was with Tom Watson (MP) blithering on about how McDonalds should cancel their Monopoly promotion this year. In and of itself, it’s not a bad idea – I’m no fan of McDonalds, and their Monopoly thing definitely encourages people to buy/eat more than they usually would.
However, Watson’s announcement was made the day before the promotion launched. By that time all the necessary materials have been prepared, printed, distributed, all the ads have been made and booked, and it would be almost impossible to cancel the promotion. And there seemed to be no real understanding of that.
If the press release had been a couple of weeks later, and was aimed at getting McDonalds to stop using it after the current promotion then that would’ve made more sense. (Not a lot more sense admittedly, since even a rudimentary Wikipedia search will tell you it’s been an annual promotion since 1987, but there’s always a chance that they might do something else, if a new idea could come up that would work equally well as a promotional tool)
All told, it just showed (in my opinion) that it was all just a “This is bad, OK?” press-release, with no real thought or understanding of the business (and marketing) processes underneath it.
Note 1 : Owing to Muphry’s Law , there will likely be at least one typo in this post.
Note 2 : It may also induce eye-crossing rage/despair in some.
Anyway – this week I’ve had two emails containing images that include typos (or just piss off my pedantry) The first came from Cotton Traders.
Seriously, how the hell does that make it through umpteen proof-readers, editors, and marketing twerds? #rage
The second was a promo for a novel, and I’ve trimmed it down to just the bit that grated on me.
This one is a bit more pedantic – but it grinds my gears anyway. “A prickly woman” is fine. But crossing out the “Prickly” makes it “A Independent Woman” – which isn’t right. Find another word for “prickly” (which they’ve chosen because the title of the book is “The Cactus”) that starts with a vowel, or a synonym for independent that starts with a consonant. Then it works. And wouldn’t annoy pedants.
Anyway, now I’ve shared my irritation. You’re welcome.
On Friday, the UK introduced a “Sugar Tax” on sweet drinks, purportedly to help reduce childhood obesity. Will it work? Personally, I doubt it.
There’s a few reasons – first and foremost, that a lot of manufacturers have already chosen to reduce the sugar levels in their drinks to put them into lower rates for the sugar tax.
Connected to that, diet and zero-calorie versions of most of those drinks have been available for years. If people haven’t chosen to swap by now, will paying 10p extra make them change? Probably not. There’s not even a really visible price difference – at least two of the shop chains I use regularly have upped the price on all the drinks, not just the sugary ones, which also defeats the object. If there were a visible difference ( “I can buy 500ml of the sugary one for £1.50, or the diet one for £1.35, so I’ll save money”) then it might work, but without that, I don’t see that there’s a real driver to force the change.
Alongside that, I *personally* have a problem with government telling me how to be healthy, and attempting to enforce that. I have the same issue when it comes to smoking, the way government encourages people to stop smoking, while also getting massive amounts of income from the tax and duty on cigarettes. (This also applies for alcohol, telling people to drink less while getting the income from the tax and duty, and so on and so on)
I also suspect that there’s a lot more damage done by the ‘invisibly’ sweet drinks – the bizarre creamy milky super-sweet concoctions from Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa et al – which now seem to be far more prevalent than sweet fizzy drinks. I suspect there’s a lot more of the obesity blame that can be laid on the coffee culture now than can be laid at the soft-drinks industry. I’m not even sure that the coffee chains are being hit by the sugar tax – I haven’t seen any mention of it being on anything except the soft-drinks industry.
It’ll be interesting to see the results – although of course the government will always claim it to have been a massive success, even when it’s a clusterfuck of monumental proportions – but I really don’t expect to see it have any positive effects on reducing obesity, whether in children or adults.
At the moment the media is full of the story about Cambridge Analytica, and it’s use of Facebook profiles/data in order to (allegedly) provide personality profiles and feedback to campaigns such as the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Personally, I’m more surprised at how shocked and amazed most people are about this.
Facebook has never really been about being useful to people – it’s always been a marketer’s wet-dream, getting people to voluntarily enter information about themselves, as well as about their interests, social connections, preferences, brands, and so on. The ‘social network’ thing was effectively a mechanism to make things work better for advertisers and marketers – it drew people in, it made them happy to give up their data, and their ‘reward’ was to connect with other people.
In the case of Cambridge Analytica, they appear to have taken the submitted data and linked profiles (as well as the ‘friends of friends’ profiles, which is pretty dodgy as they didn’t consent to it themselves, but again, I’m pretty sure that was part of Facebook’s allowances at the time) and then made use of that data for their own uses. Which isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – Facebook’s problem. Supposedly the data from Facebook ‘wasn’t meant to be shared with others’, but that’s pretty tricky to word. If a vendor has sold me something (regardless of whether that product is data, goods, services, or whatever) and I’ve paid for it, then it’s mine to with as I will. It’s no longer the vendor’s responsibility. Otherwise we’re saying “I bought a car and drove it at people, it’s the vendor’s fault, they shouldn’t have sold it to me“, which is frankly fucking ridiculous.
There’ll be a lot more of these ‘stories’ to come out now, from any number of different data providers/handlers. Now Facebook are in the media’s gunsights, they’re going to have a tough time getting out of it. (And bearing in mind the ubiquity of Facebook logins on other sites for things like commenting, etc., it’s going to be quite the shitshow, I suspect)
All told, though, it’s just utterly unsurprising – except for the apparent shock of so many people who seemed to think that Facebook was some kind of benevolent ‘let the world stay in touch’ thing, with no cynical over-arching purpose, budget, plan, or activities.
As usual, I did absolutely sod-all for Valentine’s Day. (A revelation that comes as no shock at all to anyone who knows me)
However, I am glad it’s over and done with. To me, it’s the end of the really useless marketing cobblers for a while, all the materialistic shite about presents, cards, gifts and the like. Sure, there’ll still be useless marketing cobblers about other stuff – Easter, Holidays, Hallowe’en and whatever, but at least that’s all at a greatly reduced level than the shite that goes around the Festering Season and Valentines.
Onwards and upwards, and all that piss.
When I moved to the current place, I got a new phone number – not surprising, as I was in a new area, and a new (to me) house. As always, I registered that number with TPS and so on, and made sure it was ex-directory. I usually only use landline phones for broadband purposes – although it turns out I also use it here for some calls, as the mobile coverage inside the house is shockingly bad. So I have a phone landline, and a phone connected to it.
Unbeknownst to me, the number I got had obviously been owned by someone else before me, and that person was the type of fucking moron who’d sign up for all kinds of promotions, and ran up all kinds of debts. So right from Day One I was getting a couple of calls a week looking for the previous occupant. (Well, the previous owner of that phone number – it wasn’t a name connected to the house at all) And because they were for a previous person, it turns out that TPS doesn’t really apply. (Which is an interesting, and fucking annoying, loophole)
Even so, I re-registered with TPS, and put a spam-calls block on the line. (Which was absolutely useless, and so came off again) It was only a couple of calls a week, and usually while I was out at work. *shrug*
Over the last two years though, it got worse. The phone’s call log would get filled up in the course of a week, all with “Number Withheld” and “International” numbers, along with the ones who didn’t conceal their numbers, who left messages and blocked up everything else. I used a couple of other number-blocking services, none of which did much good. Hell, if I were cynical I’d say they were the ones who sold the number on and spread it ever further. Not that I’ll ever know for sure, one way or the other.
Late last year, the situation was ridiculous. We’d gone from a couple of calls a week right up to filling the phone’s call log every day. Nothing was working to prevent the calls, and it was just getting stupid.
So I bit the bullet, and changed my phone number. I explained to BT why I was doing it – in the hope that they now blacklist that number completely (although I doubt it, they’ll just have farmed it off on some other unsuspecting sap) – and got a new number allocated to me. Same set-up, it’s ex-d, and registered with TPS.
The big difference though, is that in the three months since I got it changed, I haven’t received a single solitary spam call. My phone call log stays blank (as I said, I don’t use it that often) and it’s lovely.
Sometimes these extreme measures are the ones we need to take. I wish I’d done this one two years ago…