Thursday, 25 November 2010

PDBTL #1 - seatbelts.

First in a series of (UK) government sponsored advertising, suggesting that perhaps the subjects citizens shouldn't break the law, and wasting tax-payer's money in the process.

This is the "gory" version of this particular advert (the pre 9pm watershed version only omits the allegedly 'graphical' stuff that happens inside Richard's body.)

Richard didn't want to die, [Richard is driving along] but he couldn't stop himself.[1]

The collision [two cars head-on-collide[2] in a residential area[3]] with the car didn't kill him, but he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, so he continued on his journey. [Airbag deploys and Richard hits it full on.][4]

When he hit the inside of the car[5] [his head breaks the windscreen[4]], that didn't kill him either.

But his internal organs carried on travelling until they hit his ribcage[5] [graphic of Richard's ribs], and his lungs were punctured [his ribs break and enter lungs[6]], and the main artery from his heart was torn.[shift to front view, and slowly leaking blood from his 'heart' is shown[7]]

And that's what killed Richard.


[Think! Always wear a seatbelt]

[1] Perhaps Richard should have had his brakes checked last time they felt spongy then. Or perhaps he should have been paying attention to the road ahead of him. Or perhaps he shouldn't have been speeding.[8]

[2] Such a perfect head on collision. To pick an easily found link at random, in 2005 in the US, only 2% of collisions were head on, (though were the cause of 10% of fatal crashes.) Most other 'head on collisions' don't involve the car going straight ahead as shown and stopping in such a short distance - which is what causes the injuries stated. If there isn't an air-bag[4]

[3] Typical speed limit in a residential area in the UK? (Section 24) 30mph. Are we expected to believe that there is a substantial number of fatal, perfect, head on collisions at 30mph in built up areas where at least one of the drivers dies?

[4] Hang on... Air bag? Those are supposed to protect you are they not? :

WTF is his head doing hitting the windscreen with such force (at 30mph[3]) that it breaks? That is one seriously mis-designed air-bag. Maybe it's the car company that killed him?

[5] The only part of Richard shown hitting the car at any speed is his head. The rest of his torso should have been less affected due to the air-bag[4]

[6] Not necessarily fatal.

[7] Given the speed of the blood coming out of that heart, the pathologist in me suspects that Richard was long dead before the crash, and *that's* what caused the crash.

[8] I have no doubt that one of those adverts will make an appearance here.

Anyway - as pointed out in a previous post, the fact the advert exists is a load of bollocks. While being in a moving car without wearing a seat-belt (with certain exceptions) is against the law, punishable by a fine, the government's own statistics show that the adverts do fuck all:
This publication presents estimates of seatbelt wearing rates [...] by drivers in England. Estimates of seatbelt wearing rates for Scotland are also included. Surveys were carried out in October and November 2009.

The main results from the seatbelt survey for England are:

* The proportion of car drivers observed wearing seat belts has not changed since the 2008 survey, remaining at 95 per cent in 2009.

We know you opted out but...

... we really really want to send you some crap.




We like to keep our customers up—to—date with all that’s going on, whenever we can. However, because you’ve chosen not to receive marketing communications[3] we’re not able to keep you informed of the latest news, offers, and insights.[4]

We’re committed to maintaining the privacy of all our customers.[5] That’s why if you do decide to opt back in, we’ll keep your information safe and secure. We won't share any of your details with third parties for marketing purposes.[6]


From fund launches and investor information to latest offers such as the cash back offers. It could benefit you and your investments to stay in touch with all the things we’d love to tell you about.[7]

We’ll only ask you this once every three years.[8] lf you do change your mind later on, you can opt out simply by calling or writing to us.


Opting back in to our communications is quick and easy. Just fill in the reply form below and send it back to us free of charge in the enclosed reply—paid envelope.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.[9]

Yours sincerely,

[1] Too bloody much it appears.

[2] I somehow think that L&G are hardly on the cutting edge (well any more than, say, LLTSB who took over Clerical Medical recently.)

[3] There was a reason for that. I get enough crap through my letter box. And I thought a check box indicating "don't send me stuff not directly relevant to any accounts I hold with you" meant, well, not sending me stuff that's not directly relevant to any accounts I hold with L&G.

[4] Or advertising asking me to opt back in. Oh... wait... that's not right is it?

[5] No you're not. It's a legal requirement of the Data Protection Act. Not maintaining my privacy might cost you money, and certainly loss of good will.

[6] Of course, that's no guarantee that you won't offer the opportunity to send me crap on behalf of 3rd parties yourselves, is it? And make money from those 3rd parties doing it.

[7] Or I could just read the financial press, (and there's quite a bit of it online.)

[8] Once every three years too often in my opinion. And I'm sure there's absolutely no way of opting out of these three yearly reminders, without ceasing to be your customer. Or even if I ceased to be your customer.

[9] Don't hold your breath.


I intend to start a series or two.

Please Don't Break The Law (PDBTL)  and Stop Wasting My Fucking Money (SWMFM) - government spending wasting money on advertising suggesting (or telling) you to or not to do something.

This post started off as the first one in the series for PDBTL, but the background to the opening paragraphs started getting a bit verbose, so thought it needed a post in its own right.

Naturally this post is UK-centric, but I've seen other nations' governments' attempting to cajole their subjects/citizens.

Since the 'majority'[1] of the UK population that could be bothered to turn out and vote[2] at the last (May 2010) election removed the Labour party, who seemed to be such spendthrifts[3] - especially when it came to spending the tax-payer's money on advertising (£253M 2009/10[4],) I thought at least the coalition would have at least reduced it.

Down to nothing.

Especially since we're they're we're[5] supposed to be saving money in these straightened economic times.

No such luck. Though I have noticed a reduction in the number of government sponsored adverts, they are still there.

The previous Labour government spending on advertising spanned a few areas:

  • Health (^178% 2009 ->2010[4])
    • get your flu jabs
    • stop fucking around
    • if you must fuck around get yourself tested for chlamydia
  • Education (^50% 2009 -> 2010[4])
    • lern 2 spel
    • Learn to count
    • Learn the other stuff you should have learnt in school but didn't because they didn't teach you nothing.
  • HMRC
    • Tax needn't be taxing
    • Pay your fucking tax
    • Pension bollocks (NEST, GMP, S2P, SERPS)[6]
  • DWP
    • Get a job yer lazy twats
  • Among others.

    But the ones that really annoy me are the ones that suggest/tell you not to do things that are against the law.

    The government thinks they need to tell us what's against the law through the medium of  dance using adverts. Using our tax.

    For example in a few clicks of a mouse you can have access to the Highway Code. Or, alternatively, for the Luddites among you, you could pop down to your local WH Smiths and purchase a dead tree version for under £2.00.

    In it, it has words of wisdom such as things that are actually against the law, and if you (don't) do them, you leave yourself liable to a fine, points on your licence, or even accommodation at Her Majesty's Pleasure. (The online version lists the relevant laws - not sure about the book.)

    Things such as
    All three of the above have copious adverts telling you not to do them.

    Why? It tends to change nothing, and some of the statistics show it. The DFT (presumably by wasting more money) collated some results in their report entitled: Seatbelt and mobile phone use surveys: 2009 results. Some 'interesting' results:

    • The proportion of car drivers observed wearing seat belts has not changed since the 2008 survey, remaining at 95 per cent in 2009.
    • The proportion of car front seat passengers observed wearing seat belts or child restraints has decreased slightly from 96 per cent in 2008 to 95 per cent in 2009.
    • The proportion of car rear seat passengers observed wearing seat belts or child restraints has risen to 89 per cent in 2009 from 88 per cent in 2008.

    • Since the last survey in September 2008 the proportion of drivers observed using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving increased (from 1.1 per cent to 1.4 per cent for car drivers and from 2.2 per cent to 2.6 per cent for van and lorry drivers).
    • An increase in the number of drivers who appear to be using hands free mobile phones (from 0.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent for car drivers and from 1.1 per cent to 2.4 per cent for van and lorry drivers) was observed in the same period.
    Now that first section has changes of at most 1%. Taking front seat passengers with seatbelts, if 2008 was 95.5% and 2009 was 95.4%, and we round to 2s.f. we now have our 1% difference, generated from a 0.1% difference. Well within the bounds of error. (Granted other valid values could be 96.4% and 94.5% (1.9%) but I'm sure that this would have been pointed out had it been the case.)

    Likewise, the differences for phone use differ by at most 0.4% - suspected statistical error again.

    Hardly encouraging, or justification for spending on adverts, given that we've had these adverts on UK media for years.

    The cynic in me is waiting for the first advert telling you not to steal.

    Or don't go around murdering people.

    [1] Since (roughly) two thirds of eligible voters[2] actually bothered to turn up and vote, and of those only 60%[2] voted for either of the parties eventually involved with the coalition, I hardly think 40% of the electorate constitutes a majority.


    [3] Spendthrifts, contrary to what some/most seem to believe (me too, until I saw that first link when it was first published,) derives from "spending the money that [previous] thrifts saved," and thus indicates someone who spends a lot, rather than someone who is thrifty by not spending.

    [4] In Labour's last year of government, they managed to increase their spending on advertising from around £180,000,000 to £253,000,000. (The article says 40% up to £253M)

    [5] It's my tax you're spending damn-it!

    [6] Win 2 internets if you actually know what all those stand for without hovering over the links, visiting the linked sites, or work in the pension industry.

    Wednesday, 24 November 2010

    TV Licencing. Have you paid in Sheffield?

    Via BBW:

    There are five homes
    in Rock Street S3
    without a TV Licence

    [graffitti] Maybe they have a life

    That would be Rock Street, Sheffield then?

    View Larger Map

    Is your house there?

    Anyway, this is yet another prong in TVL's[2] "You're guilty until we decide otherwise you've bought a licence regardless of whether you're required to," campaign that's been prevalant over the years.

    There are a variety of reasons why a home might not legitimately have a TV licence.
    1. It may be unoccupied, the previous occupier having transferred their licence to their new house.
    2. The occupier may not be able to afford a TV Licence and has forgone the need to own a TV.
    3. The occupier may have decided that all the stuff on TV is shite and isn't worth the TV, or the licence.
    4. The occupier may simply have taken the stand that they disagree with the licence on principle and decided not to have a TV.
    5. The occupier may have a TV but may only use it to view DVDs/videos/Wii/X-Box, and not to watch live TV.

    Or there's one reason why they may illegally not have a TV licence and that's
    1. That they have equipment that is both capable of, and is being used to, receive as-broadcast[1] TV signals. (Edit 2017: or want to watch anything on iPlayer)

    That bolded bit is important - it's why the owner in #5 above is able to own a TV yet not be required to have a licence. It's also, incidentally, why it's possible for someone not to own a TV, but still be required to have a licence (TV receivers on PC's are an example of the latter.)

    Anyway, the poster above implies, as do the letters they send that border on barratry, that everyone(without exception) without a TV Licence falls into the latter group.

    I'm sure the BBC have better things to spend the Licence Fee tax-payers' money on.

    You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it's being broadcast. This includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder.

    [2] For the benefit of those fortunate to not be harassed by TVL - "TV Licencing" is actually a trademark, owned by the BBC in the UK, which 3rd party companies can licence(!) in order to harass law abiding members of the public.

    Crapita Capita seem to be the company that provides the bully-boys at the moment.

    Tuesday, 16 November 2010

    Not so happy down on the farm...

    MotherCare are selling (but currently out of stock) the Early Learning Centre Happyland Goosefeather Farm [current] for £30. In the product description:

    • All the fun of the Happy Land Goosefeather Farm with Farmer Shepherd and his wife
    • Includes a barn, tractor and trailer, sheep pen, pig sty, and six animals
    • Your little ones will love playing with the farmyard animals, while learning the different sounds they make with the help of the animal sound effects
    Brilliant, eh? But what's this? If you want to buy it direct from the Early Learning Center [current] it's only £25. What do you think might be the difference? Their product description:
    • Bring all the fun of the farm to HappyLand with this lovely set.
    • Farmer Shepherd wakes up early in the morning to tend the fields. Mrs. Shepherd makes sure all the animals on the farm are well fed and happy.
    • Set includes barn, tractor, trailer, pen, 3 fences, gate, Farmer Shepherd, Mrs. Shepherd, horse, cow, sheep, sheepdog and chicken. 
    • Press the buttons on the roof to hear five animal sounds.

    Can you spot the difference?

    Bit difficult?

    Ok - here's the promotional photo from Mothercare:

    And the promotional photo for ELC:

    Spot the difference yet?

    How about a hint - here's the mother care one again:

    Yes - for a reduction of £5, you can get the new version of Goosefeather Farm without pigs.

    "New Version" I hear you ask?

    Yup - the ELC have slaughtered all the pigs on Goosefeather Farm for fear of offending Jews and Muslims.

    Really. But don't worry - the pigs are still there in spirit. Ghostly pigs can still be heard haunting Goosefeather Farm, because the button that produces the Oink sounds proved a little more difficult to remove than the pig.

    Oh - what's this? ELC have done a U-turn due to bad publicity? Colour me surprised.

    Wednesday, 10 November 2010

    Smut on smut channel - shock horror!!

    Not so much the advertisers themselves this time, but the authority that purports to regulate them.

    No video this time, sorry ;)

    Imagine you're watching an adult themed channel at 6.40am.

    An advert for a parody of the Blair Witch Project called "The Bare Tits Project" pops up. (Mistakenly, apparently - the advert shouldn't have gone out.)

    Tagline:  "In 2009 4 students went out to make a naughty documentary in Epping Forest ... They never returned but the footage was found a year later ...".

    Now given that the advert (from the ASA description) has nothing more explicit than that which may be found on Page 3 of your favourite Red Top, and bearing in mind that this is "Tease Me 2" what would your reaction be?

    1) Ignore it because you realise that kids won't typically be watching Tease Me 2, especially in households where the parents are actually parenting and have probably put the controls on such channels.

    2) Ignore it because you realise that no-one except you will be watching Tease Me 2 at 7am in the morning.

    3) You wouldn't be watching it anyway, since you either realise that there's very little smut on the smut channels that early in the morning, or you have better things to be doing then. Like sleeping.

    4) Complain to the ASA that people might be offended at seeing smut on the smut channels at early-o'clock in the morning and it would "cause serious or widespread offence [and] that the depiction of nudity contravened [...] generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards."

    Yes, some sad twat chose #4.

    And the ASA agreed with them.

    Furthermore, the ASA decided to stick their oar in and add to the complaint by claiming that the ('explicit') premium rate numbers advertised alongside should have been presented on an encrypted channel. (They should perhaps take a look in the adverts sections of the aforementioned Red Tops.)

    And the ASA, strangely enough, agreed with themselves on that 2nd point.

    So, the punishment for mistakenly airing an advert before 7am in the morning that normally wouldn't be aired after 9pm?

    The usual, with a rider: The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form, unless it is shown on encrypted elements of adult entertainment channels.

    Monday, 8 November 2010

    Vicks - up next: the cure for cancer

    Proctor & Gamble have finally done something no other scientists have thus far been unable to do - cure the common cold. Or so they imply:

    Stop Your Cold with First Defence

    When you catch things early, they're easier to deal with.

    So when you feel the first signs of a cold[1], Vicks First Defence catches the virus and helps stop the cold developing.[graphic of Vicks nasal spray attacking viruses][2]

    Vicks First Defence - helps[3] stop your cold before it takes hold. [current]

    Attack is the best form of defence

    Picture the scene. You’ve got a holiday coming up and, just when you should be getting excited, you feel the dreaded twinge of an approaching cold. Great.

    Don’t panic! Vicks has the solution - First Defence Micro-Gel Nasal Spray. Applied as soon as you feel the first warning signs of a cold[1]. The unique Micro-Gel attacks the virus where it first takes hold[2] – at the back of your nose, traps it, disarms it and helps to remove it. When people used Vicks First Defence Micro-Gel Nasal Spray at the first signs of a cold[1], 77 per cent said they didn’t develop a full blown cold*[4]. So next time a nasty cold threatens to ruin a holiday, don’t surrender – send it packing!

    Always read the label/leaflet.
    *2006 consumer satisfaction survey of 90 UK users.[5]

    [1] The first signs of a cold typically occur 2-5 days after catching the virus which causes the common cold. (But, as the link points out, it could be as soon as 10 hours.) The problem, of course, being that once you've started showing the first signs of a cold, the virus has been replicating busily in your body, so...

    [2] It's impossible for a nasal spray to attack the virus as shown in the nose when the virus has already taken hold in the rest of the body.

    [3] Weasel words.

    [4] How many of those 77%[5] would have developed a full blown cold had they not been using Vicks? From the link above:
    Sneezing and coughing are the body's natural efforts to eject the viruses. Fever reduces the virus' ability to reproduce inside the nose. It does seem to be likely that in those people who only experience symptoms for a few days, the immune system is functioning well.

    [5] 77% of 90 UK users is... 69 people. Out of an adult population of 45,457,163 (Number of voters on 22 Feb 2006.) For the mathematicians at P&G, that's 0.00015%.

    Clearly Vicks products do mitigate the symptoms of colds, but I find it highly unlikely that they can do anything about the causes of those symptoms.

    Tuesday, 2 November 2010

    The AA - Half price driving lessons?

    Cheap driving lessons [current] from the AA? Hardly.

    AA Driving Lessons
    from only
    £10.50 per hour *
    Call now on
    0800 980 1834
    Offer subject to availability
    * Discounted price is for the first two hours of tuition purchased in one transaction using a valid debit or credit card when calling 0800 980 1834, after which standard lesson pricing applies. A handling fee of 1.5% plus VAT is applied to credit card transactions. Lesson prices vary by postcode and instructor and will be confirmed when you call. Debit card transactions are exempt of handling fees. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and applies to new pupils only. Tuition must be booked through the AA Customer Service Centre on the number displayed in this advertisement. AA tuition is subject to instructor availability. AA driving instructors are self-employed franchisees and all contracts for the provision of tuition are between the pupil and the instructor. AA Driving School reserves the right to amend, change or withdraw this offer at any time.

    So, for one transaction only, you can get two half price hours worth of tuition at £10.50. If you buy at least two hours. If this is your first transaction with the AA. If you can get an instructor, and if that instructor only charges £21 per hour. If you aren't paying by credit card.

    Having bought some lessons, you aren't allowed to use this offer again, since you would no longer be a new pupil.

    That's a lot of if's for saving £21 on something that will probably cost quite a lot more.

    Now, the AA has already recently been slapped once on the wrist by that most toothless of regulators (the ASA) for a similar (previous) advert:
    we considered that the claim "Learn with Us HALF PRICE AA driving lessons from only £10.50 per hour*" in the headline implied that unlimited lessons could be booked at the stated price within the promotional time frame, whereas the price stated in the offer was limited to two lessons only, and was dependent upon the purchase of a block booking of a minimum of five lessons and was also dependent on the availability of an instructor who offered standard lessons at £21. We considered that, although the conditions of the offer were stated in subsequent click-throughs, those conditions contradicted rather than qualified the headline claim and the promotion was therefore misleading.

    Clearly The AA has changed their advert due to the ruling, but have they really changed it sufficiently?