Saturday 18 December 2010

The man with no name

This is not the way to make your customers feel good about themselves!

Dear null

Sunday 7 November 2010

If it's free, it's worth nothing

Last week I received a mailshot that had travelled through time. I know this because the style and premise were so archaic, so ill-suited to the 21st century, they could not possibly have originated in the last 25 years.

The envelope was plain white with a red postage logo hinting at a bulk mailing. But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I opened it. This wasn't contemporary direct mail, it was a marketing Sutton Hoo.

The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists mailingInside was a letter, an order form and eight Christmas cards with envelopes. Each card had a different hand-painted design.

"Dear Sir/Madam", read the letter. "Christmas is drawing near and I write on behalf of my fellow artists to introduce our work - all created with the brush held in the mouth or feet".

It went on to say "Only by approaching you in this way can we adequately describe the background of these cards."

"Our aim is to support ourselves through the sale of our cards."

"The price for the set is £6.95... You are of course under no obligation to buy or return the set".

And that's where the letter is wrong. Those cards don't have a value of £6.95. They have a value of nothing. Sod all. I've been sent them without asking for them. If I don't want them, I can keep them anyway. Therefore they have no value.

Which is how I knew this strange little package had travelled through time. I reckon it would have worked fifty years ago. But not today.

Buying these cards supports talented artists. But you can't really use the cards, not now. Not here in 2010. What if your friends think you didn't pay for them? Of course you wouldn't do a thing like that, but... And what about the supposed £6.95 value? What's a £6.95 pack of cards worth when one in ten packs is wasted because the recipient doesn't want them? What if it's nine out of ten packs thrown away (or used without payment)? If you receive one, are you helping support the artists or are you getting one of those free cards that were too good for the sender to throw away?

Yes, I know, I know, there are undoubtedly economic reasons for the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists partnership doing things this way instead of just sending an order form or asking for unwanted cards to be returned. But, as I've said before, I neither want unnecessary gifts nor charitable blackmail. And, as the 21st century progresses, I'd like to think those marketing techniques will go the way of the dinosaurs.

I wish those artists every success. But I wish they'd drag their marketing out of the 1950s.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

When did opt-out become the new opt-in?

Robin Hood, eh? When he wasn’t riding through the glen – or wooing Maid Marian – he was taking from the rich to give to the poor. What a nice chap.

Except… well… not if you’re one of the rich.

Now, in defence of Robin Hood, he (a) may not have existed and (b) didn’t necessarily rob everyone who had money. “But loke ye do no husbonde harme, that tilleth with his ploughe. No more ye shall no gode yeman that walketh by gren-wode shawe; ne no knyght ne no squyer that wol be a gode felawe.” At least, that's what the kids sang in 1450.

However, I can’t help feel there’s a similarity between Mr Hood and today’s trend for opt-out charitable donations.

Head for a restaurant and you may find an extra £1 added to the bill to help the homeless. Oh yes, you can ask for it to be removed, but it’s already there and you need to opt-out. (And what sort of cad would do that?)

It’s the same when you head to a De Vere hotel. They’re adding £1 to your bill and giving it to the Variety Club.

When did this become an acceptable form of promotion? If a restaurant added a bottle of wine to the bill – “it’s okay, we’ll take it off if you insist” – we’d be livid. If hotels charged us for the movie channel – “tell us when you check-out if you didn’t watch it” – we’d probably never return. If every Big Issue seller picked our pocket for £1.70 when we walked past – but published a disclaimer on their ID badge – we wouldn’t be particularly happy.

It’s also worth noting that the establishments themselves don’t mention any donation they’re making. Sure, they’re promoting the schemes and they’re collecting the money, but there’s little or no expenditure. To quote StreetSmart, “The scheme is a very cost efficient way for restaurants to fulfil their social and community responsibility.”

So here’s an idea. First, give me a choice. You’ve already put a leaflet in my hotel room, why not let me put it ‘yes’ side up if I want to make a donation? Better still, why not offer to match my donation? If you can’t afford to do that, perhaps you could let me opt-out of having my towels changed in return for a matched donation? Maybe I could choose a smaller portion at the restaurant and the restaurateur could give some of their money, too?

Surely charities should follow the lead of marketers, who are encouraged to only contact customers that have opted-in to receive communications. This isn’t just backed-up by the law, it’s backed-up by common sense. No-one wants to be hassled into doing something – even if it’s a good thing they end up doing.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

It's AW10!

I know I'm going to sound grumpy. But if it takes much longer than a split-second for me to work out what your marketing email is talking about, either you've sent it to the wrong person or you've messed up the subject line. I'm assuming AW10 is autumn/winter 2010... but why should I need to assume?

Thursday 16 September 2010

Dedit order

I've just received an email about a Lloyds Cheuqe warning me that my Bank Account Statement Show Ј560.99 Dedit Order. Oh no! I've not written a cheuqe for a J560.99 dedit. I must CLICK HERE at once. Hold on… this isn't one of those spam emails, is it?


NB: Loving the 'smiley' in the subject line.

Monday 6 September 2010

And the FBI said...

Here's a lovely spam email that claims to be from the FBI. I particularly liked the inconsistent use of capital letters and the appearance of phrases that definitely aren't in the FBI style guide. I've removed the alleged contact details but nothing else is changed.



We believe this notification meets you in a very good present state of mind and health. We the Federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Washington, DC in conjunction with some other relevant Investigation Agencies here in the United states of America have recently been informed through our Global intelligence monitoring network that you presently have a transaction going on with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as regards to your over-due contract payment which was fully endorsed in your favor accordingly.It might interest you to know that we have taken out time in screening through this project as stipulated on our protocol of operation and have finally confirmed that your contract payment is 100% genuine and hitch free from all facet and of which you have the lawful right to claim your fund without any further delay.Having said all this, we will further advise that you go ahead in dealing with the Central Bank office accordingly as we will be monitoring all their services wit h you as well as your corresponde

In addendum, also be informed that we recently had a meeting with the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in the person of Lamido Sanusi along with some of the top officials of the Ministry regarding your case and they made us to understand that your file has been held in abase depending on when you personally come for the claim. They also told us that the only problem they are facing right now is that some unscrupulous element are using this project as an avenue to scam innocent people off their hard earned money by impersonating the Executive Governor and the Central Bank office.We were also made to understand that a lady with name Mrs. Joan C. Bailey from OHIO has already contacted them and also presented to them all the necessary documentations evidencing your claim purported to have been signed personally by you prior to the release of your contract fund but the Central Bank office did the wise.

They further informed us that we should warn our dear citizens who must have been informed of the contract payment which was awarded to them from the Central Bank of Nigeria, to be very careful prior to this irregularities so that they don't fall victim to this ugly circumstance. And should in case you are already dealing with anybody or office claiming to be from the Central Bankof Nigeria, you are further advised to STOP further contact with them in your best interest and then contact immediately the real office of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) only with the below informations accordingly:


You are therefore adviced to fill out your info and forward it to the office above for authorisation

YOUR FULL NAMES_________________________ _____________________

YOUR CONTACT ADDRESS_______________________ _________________

TELEPHONE/FAX NUMBERS_______________________ ___________________

OCCUPATION____________________ __________________________

In your best interest, any message and phone number that doesn't come from the above official email address and phone numbers should not be replied to and should be disregarded accordingly for security reasons. Meanwhile, we will advise that you contact the Central Bank office immediately with the above email address and request that they attend to your payment file as directed so as to enable you receive your contract fund accordingly.Ensure you follow all their procedure as may be required by them as that will further help hasten up the whole procedures as regards to the transfer of your fund to you as designated. Also have in mind that the Central Bank of Nigeria equally have their own protocol of operation as stipulated on their banking terms, so delay could be very dangerous. Once again, we will advise that you contact them with the above email address and make sure you forward to them all the necessary informations which they may require from you prior to the release o f your fund to you accordingly.

All modalities has already been worked out even before you were contacted and note that we will be monitoring all your dealings with them as you proceed so you don't have anything to worry about. All we require from you henceforth is an update so as to enable us be on track with you and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Without wasting much time, will want you to contact them immediately with the above email address so as to enable them attend to your case accordingly without any further delay as time is already running out.Should in case you need any more informations in regards to this notification,feel free to get back to us so that we can brief you more as we are here to guide you during and after this project has been completely perfected and you have received your contract fund as stated.Thank you very much for your anticipated co-operation in advance as we earnestly await your urgent response to this matter.

Best Regards,
Robert S. Mueller III
Federal Bureau of Investigation
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW Washington, D.C.
20535-0001, USA
Email:muellerxxxx@xxx .com

Friday 3 September 2010

Santa's bringing tablets this Christmas

[Originally posted on]

Santa’s bringing tablets this Christmas – and I’m not talking about the plink-plink-fizz of Alka Seltzer. These are tablet computers… and they’re going to be everywhere.

It all started with the Apple iPad; a device so widely anticipated, the TV advertisements didn’t even need to say what it did. "What is iPad? iPad is thin…"

But now it’s having to share the limelight. The Samsung Galaxy Tab runs the rival Android OS and, unlike the Apple iPad, appears to have every model 3G-ready.

Then there are the new Binatone tablets. Archos tablets. And many, many iPad lookalikes from China. Plus potential new products – such as RIM’s rumoured BlackPad, along with LG, HP and Motorola tablet devices – still to come.

So… we’ve got the stock. But what about the demand?

Well, according to retailers, that’s there too.

DSGi chief executive John Browett expects the iPad to be a "winning product at Christmas" in Currys and PC World stores.

Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices division, says tablets could make laptops obsolete.

Best Buy’s Shawn Score says his company "will make tablets a focus" – and it wouldn’t be too surprising to find The Carphone Warehouse heading in a similar direction.

Cost could also play a big part. Not only are some of these WiFi-only tablets costing under £100, even the dearer 3G-equipped ones will look attractive when subsidised with a two-year mobile contract.

Overall, it looks like good news for the mobile industry. Whether it’s also good news for consumers isn’t so clear. After all, there’s still a chance that may of those tablet devices could end up in the same cupboard as electric candles and laser-guided scissors!

Monday 30 August 2010

More online grumbles

My bank still hasn't mastered punctuation for its email newsletter.

Introducing the August collection

And my mobile network thinks it's important that nothing's happening.

Friday 20 August 2010

When is a broad not a broad?

When is a broad not a broad?

When it's a b-road, apparently. Serves me right for using Microsoft Word and not Roget.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

A bit of a give-away

A while ago I had a little grumble about an email from my bank that looked like spam - and also remarked on the (fortunately) poor quality of many spam emails.

As if to prove my point, I've recently received this piece of spam. Apparently a Mr Noman has been trying to pay me. Noman. No man. See what they've done there?

Offensive anti-terrorist ad banned by ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that an anti-terrorist radio ad could cause serious offence and mustn’t be broadcast again. The advertisement suggested that a man who keep himself to himself, doesn't have a bank card and he keeps his curtains closed because he lives on a bus route could be seen as acting suspiciously.

In its adjudication, the ASA “considered that the ad could also describe the behaviour of a number of law-abiding people within a community”.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Nokia sarcasm reaches a new level

A few weeks ago, the Nokia Conversations blog published an article called How do you hold your Nokia?

It coincided with well-reported problems affecting the new Apple iPhone 4. The article ended by reminding Nokia users that they could hold their phones any way they liked without suffering any signal loss.


But it seems that wasn't enough. Today, in Settle down: it's story time, we're told that "video calls using mobile devices are very new", with Nokia users having to "wait all the way until 2004" before they could make video calls. Oooh. Six years before iPhone users. The story behind the article - a partnership between Nokia and Sesame Street - doesn't really involve mobile phones at all, which means this looks like little more than another unashamed pop at Apple.

That first article struck me as pretty funny... but I really don't see sarcasm as one of Nokia's brand values. No more digs for a while, eh? Just get the N8 into the shops.

Thursday 8 July 2010

A bank newsletter that's no better than spam

I’ve said – privately – on more than one occasion that spam ‘phishing’ email messages asking for bank details would work much better if only they were written with more marketing nous. (Just for the record, I’ve only said this to friends. I’m not touting for business from spam marketers!)

And then I received an email from my bank on 25th June. I like my bank… and I tend to like their style… but this is pants. I see now why people are fooled by phishing emails if this is typical of a bank’s official message.

Introducing the June collection

"Mr Bridge introducing the June Collection"

What in heaven’s name are those quote marks doing there? They appear to be a bid to make this look as spammy as possible. And where’s the punctuation?

In fact, while I’m having a go at the subject line, let’s ask why I should bother to open this email at all. ‘The June Collection’. What’s that when it’s at home, eh?

Oh, alright, let’s move into the body of the email.

The June CollectionHang on, there it is again. The June Collection. Still no idea what it is, mind you.

And now there’s an invitation:

‘This month we're giving you the opportunity to enter the London HACK for free…’

The London HACK. It’s a good job I’m not thinking of spam email here, isn’t it? Because that would put me right off. So – what is the London HACK? Perhaps a quick glance at the next story will tell me. Nope, that one’s about You look after them and we'll look after youshoes and life insurance. Then we’ve got a Toshiba Mini NB200. I’m assuming it’s some kind of computer because there’s a picture of a computer there. Then again, they’ve used two pairs of shoes to sell life insurance, so it might as well be a cereal bar they’re giving away.

Let us hear your views

It’s not until I get to the fifth story that I discover the London HACK is a fundraising walk for charity. To register, I’m told to “select find out more below”. No hyperlink in the text. No italics. No quote marks. (This might have been a good place for them instead of the subject line). No, that would make it too easy to read. And, just to add to my fear, a warning that the bank “has no control over the linked To register, select find out more belowwebsite and is not liable for your use of it. The closing date is 28 June 2010.” Leaving me a mere three days to enter, assuming I had the confidence to click that potentially dangerous link.

As I mentioned earlier, I like my bank. I like them enough to have concealed their name in my rant. I’m not annoyed – just disappointed and a little frustrated. I don’t want to ‘opt out’ of marketing messages. All I want is something that’s a bit better… and something that gives me a reason to read it.

Finally, to add insult to injury, the online survey had closed when I tried to offer my opinion about the newsletter. Still, I’ve got it off my chest now.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

The accidental photo-journalist, part 3

The University of Lincoln's student newspaper has borrowed another of my photos. This one's a football fan from the last time England was knocked out the World Cup.

Thursday 24 June 2010

The Commodores rewrite 'Nightshift' as Michael Jackson tribute

The Commodores have rewritten the re-written the lyrics to 'Nightshift' and have re-recorded it as a tribute to Michael Jackson.

Michael, he was a friend of mine
For more than forty years, no brighter star did shine
Michael, they call you, “King Of Pop”
But for your gentle soul, the pain would never stop…
Tomorrow, Friday 25th June, is the anniversary of Michael's untimely death. Nightshift is a good song, although I'm not sure about the concept of rewriting a tribute song as a tribute to someone else. I wasn't sure 13 years ago, either.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Another unwanted gift

I've just received more unwanted gifts from the Red Cross, which has reminded me to opt out from their 'unwanted gift' mailing list. A sheet of adhesive labels and a paper clip, since you ask.

Saturday 15 May 2010

KITT is ready to hack your car's computer

Remember how Michael Knight's KITT could take control of other cars in Knight Rider by jamming their brakes with a 'Microlock'. Technology has now surpassed that.

CNET reports that a group of university researchers has managed to 'hack' a car, locking the brakes, the engine and the windows remotely. They were also able to change the speedometer display, turn on the radio and sound the horn.

So watch out if a 1982 Trans-Am pulls alongside you...

Tuesday 4 May 2010

An unnecessary 'thank you' from the Red Cross

As far as I'm concerned, the Red Cross does a great job. But I'd rather it didn't waste my donation on sending me 'thank you' gifts I don't want.

I've just received a letter from them that contains some cards, envelopes, address labels, gift tags, a bookmark, a sheet of wrapping paper and a ballpoint pen. Because that collection of tat will persuade me to make another donation, right?

Now, I'm sure there's evidence that this kind of thing works for many people. I'd like to think the British Red Cross isn't just sending stationery because it's run out of novelty gifts or jelly beans - and I'm sure it's not spending for fun, given that the world isn't crisis-free at the moment.

But today this seems like money-wasting nonsense. These gifts are of no real use to me. And yes, I know the Red Cross suggests that unwanted gifts could be passed "to friends, family or community groups to help spread awareness of our life-saving work". Probably not the address labels, though.

I'm also irritated that the gifts were - according to the letter - created as a tribute to Red Cross volunteers in the First and Second World Wars. Adhesive labels are hardly a fitting tribute, are they?

So now I feel guilty. Guilty that most of those gifts will be heading for the recycling bin. Guilty that I'm annoyed at the Red Cross. Guilty that I'm disinclined to donate to them again, given their tendency to buy ballpoint pens instead of bandages.

Perhaps it's just a question of demographic profiling. (Filter out the grumpy people from the free gift list). Or perhaps - as has been suggested more than once - it's time for charities to get back to basics.

Monday 3 May 2010

Did you mean...?

It's not just Microsoft Word that thinks it may know better than me. Asda's website also isn't sure. "You searched for irish. Did you mean finish, fresh, brush, wrist or crisp?

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Breaking News?

Breaking NewsThe front page of 'Grazia' includes the following message:

Breaking News
Is Angelina pregnant?

Leaving aside the 'news' aspect of a 34-year-old woman in a stable relationship possibly having a child, I'm inclined to ask something else.

Can 'Breaking News' ever involve a question?

Monday 5 April 2010

A very mobile wedding

Well, as I mentioned on 3rd April, I got married. Well done me. And, as I also mentioned, I was attempting to use a variety of different online social-type services from my mobile phone. So... how did it go?

I started the day by sending a text message update to Twitter. (It wasn't quite the 'Twitter wedding' that some people have achieved - but I didn't want to be too distracted during the important bits).

Then, when I picked up the flowers, I sent a MMS picture message to photo-sharing site Flickr. This wasn't perfect - I didn't use all of Flickr's mobile options so I needed to 'tweak' the file name and description later. I also updated this blog by visiting from my phone's browser. (I'd wanted to use ShoZu to upload a photo to Blogger at the same time but I’d written the blog post in a separate document and couldn’t cut and paste it into ShoZu).

Later that day I uploaded a photo and a short note using the Facebook application on my phone. (It’s an HTC phone running Windows Mobile). In fact, all of the day’s updates showed up on Facebook, thanks to FriendFeed, which takes information from other social networking sites and adds them to Facebook as well.

Google Latitude on Windows Mobile smartphoneI updated my location on Foursquare, which was a little bit messy on Windows Mobile because you’ve got to tell it where you are. (Unlike the iPhone app, for example, which can automatically use GPS to narrow things down). I also used Google Latitude to keep a small circle of friends up-to-date with where I was. (If I'd wanted to share a one-off location update, I'd have chosen Glympse instead).

I left a short phone blog - a phlog - using ipadio. Not only does ipadio put your voice blog online, it also uses SpinVox to convert your words to text. It's all as simple as making a phone call. And I recorded a short video clip using Qik. Rather like a video version of ipadio, Qik doesn’t just record but also streams live, which means people could watch or listen online in real time.

Reasonably pleasing, I'd say. Anyway, I'll be talking more about my technology - and the services I used - in this week's edition of The Fonecast on Wednesday.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Wedding day

Today I've set myself the challenge of using my mobile phone to update as many different types of social-enabled web sites as possible. It's the type of thing that's been done before, I know, but not by me... and not on the day I get married.

Most of my updates should end up on Twitter ( and FriendFeed, in case you're interested in following them.

Right. I'm just going to upload this to on my Vodafone-branded HTC TyTn II.

Sunday 28 March 2010


Today's OED word of the day is 'cuckoo'. The etymology notes include this delightful moment: "...the annual lessons given by the bird have prevented the phonetic changes which the word would normally have undergone".

Thursday 25 March 2010

The accidental photo-journalist, part 2

One of my photos has been used to accompany an article in the University of Lincoln's student newspaper. Could a new career as the UK's leading snail-and-coin photographer be awaiting me?
Snail with 5p coin

Friday 12 March 2010

It's a dangerous game, giffgaff

You know me. I like a bit of enthusiasm. I like a start-up business. I like mobile phones. Therefore you'd think that I'd like giffgaff. And I do.

giffgaff on TwitterBut this week I've become a little concerned, in the quasi-parental way I'd usually reserve for Geri Halliwell and road-crossing hedgehogs. Dear little giffgaff has been Tweeting about problems at Verizon. Well, not problems. A problem. A customer service faux pas extraordinaire that involved a member of Verizon staff refusing to disconnect a dead customer's mobile phone because their daughter didn't have the account PIN. Death certificate, yes. PIN, no. Not good.

But is this really a wise move from an organisation that has even less control over its customer service operation than Verizon? Relying largely on your own users to deliver 'crowdsourced' customer service is innovative, it's true. And - so far - pretty effective, it seems.

But I can't help feeling that giffgaff is throwing its stones from inside a glass house. Watch your windows, giffgaffers. We all make mistakes.

Saturday 6 March 2010

How long is an ounce?

The answer in the fourteenth century would have been "around seven-and-a-half-seconds" or "three inches". And that's before we start talking about shekels and gneeves. Thanks, OED Word of the Day.

Friday 5 March 2010

Chilean earthquake has literally shaken the world

The recent earthquake in Chile may have moved the Earth's axis by about three inches, according to a NASA scientist. Richard Gross has also calculated that the quake is likely to have shortened the length of a day by about 1.26 microseconds (µs). A microsecond is one millionth of a second.

The calculations take into account the position of the earthquake and the direction of the fault line, although the figures are too small to confirm and are likely to change when additional quake data is available.

Tuesday 9 February 2010


Apparently not. It seems I mean 'unfishable', according to Microsoft Word.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Getting those unwanted grey lines out of Microsoft Word

They come from out of nowhere. And there's no obvious way to get rid of them.

Not an insect invasion. No, I'm talking about those irritating grey marks that suddenly appear at the corner of your text in Microsoft Word 2003. You can go for days, weeks, perhaps even years without seeing them. Then, with no apparent warning, they appear. Little right-angled lines to mock you. At which point you dive into your Microsoft Word settings.

Later, you'll jump out. Frustrated.

You see, those 'margin marks' or 'crop marks' only appear if you have Chinese, Japanese or Korean language support turned on in Microsoft Office Language Settings. And Microsoft Office might have done that for you without you really noticing.

The answer, according to Microsoft, is to remove the Asian language (or languages) from the enabled languages list. It's pretty straightforward... once you know the secret:
  • First, make sure that the Text boundaries option in Word isn't selected. (Go to Tools in Word, click Options, select the View tab and clear the Text boundaries tick box).
  • Now click Start, find Microsoft Office from the programs list, choose Microsoft Office Tools and click Microsoft Office 2003 Language Settings.
  • Remove the languages you don't need from the Enabled languages list (e.g. everything except 'English') by selecting the unwanted language and clicking Remove.
  • Finally, click OK.

Apparently it's a similar process for Word 2000 and Word 2002.

But that still leaves me with a question. Why would you want those margin marks for Asian languages and not for others?

Wednesday 27 January 2010

The $877 million man

Colonel Steve Austin. The Six Million Dollar Man. Rebuilt with experimental cybernetic parts for a TV series in 1973.

But fiction is becoming fact, according to new figures from ABI Research. They reckon we're going to spend a total of $29 million worldwide on 'human augmentation systems' this year - from electronic eye implants and powered limbs to exoskeletons - and in ten years' time we'll be spending $877 million annually.
Powered exoskeletons — robotic frameworks designed to enhance the strength of the wearer — will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 68% over the forecast period of 2010-2020, and will be used primarily in military and medical settings initially, due to their high cost of manufacture. Advanced powered upper-limb prostheses, which include myoelectric and nerve-controlled limbs with articulating digits, will post a CAGR of 28.5% over the forecast period, while ocular sensory-substitution devices for the blind, such as retinal implants and ocular prostheses, will see a CAGR of almost 75% this decade, with more than 16,000 units to be shipped in 2020.

ASA to take no action against McDonalds 'bob' TV ad

"The Pound, also known as a bob". That's what fast-food giant McDonalds is telling us in a TV commercial for its 'Saver' menu, although it's wrong. A bob is old-fashioned slang for a shilling, which is today's 5p.

There's been a fair amount of discussion about this, with the US company's executives being blamed for not researching the UK market. That's all very well, but you'd think the voice-over artist might have mentioned it.

Now, call me a grumpy old pedant, but 5p is considerably less than a pound. Advertising something on television and promoting two different prices is misleading, I reckon.

That's certainly what the Plain English Campaign told Sky News: "It just doesn't work for me, a bob certainly isn't anything like a pound."

The response from McDonald's was "Although a 'bob' was formerly used as a slang term for the shilling until the introduction of decimalisation in 1971, research has shown it is now more commonly used as slang for a pound or money in general."

Research? Whose research? Asking the people who approved the ad?

Sadly, the Advertising Standards Authority thinks the ad is clear enough for TV. Their response is: "The ad clearly states the cost of the advertised products and we acknowledge that those viewers who are familiar with the pre-decimalisation term ‘bob’ are likely to understand it refers to a shilling. However, we do not consider the use of the word here is likely to mislead viewers about the cost of the advertised products."

Tuesday 26 January 2010

The ultimate mobile phone

Here's a Nokia press release:

"Nokia today announces the launch of its ultimate entertainment device – the X6 16GB. The 16GB has all the stunning features of the 32GB..."

Woah. Hang on a moment. The earlier version of the X6 had more memory. So that's not "ultimate" meaning "best", is it?

And I doubt it's Nokia's last-ever entertainment device. So what exactly does "ultimate" mean on this occasion?

Oh sure, it's a good phone. And it's a good price. But "ultimate"?

I think not.

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Mostly listening to...

By combining Wordle and I discover I've been listening to the following collection of artists: