Occasionally, my searches for Bad PR / Bad News (rebranding, here!) take me places I wouldn’t otherwise go. Like, for example, to The Sun website, where I was alerted by @cathyby and @DrPetra to this odious piece of PR bullshit:
You’re the affair-er sex, girls!
WOMEN are now more likely to cheat than men, a survey reveals.One in five said they would “definitely” have an affair if they fell for another bloke.
In contrast, just nine per cent of fellas were certain they would betray their partner.
The study of 3,000 people has for the first time exposed girls as the bigger love rats.
Wildly-misogynistic with an undercurrent designed to promote the kind of sexual mistrust which can really damage a relationship? I’m sure I read something similar in the not-too-distant past… oh, yes, that’s right, in The Sun:
One in 10 trick dads
One in ten mums TRICKED their fella into getting them pregnant, a survey revealed yesterday.
Top ruses were lying about being on the pill or just not mentioning contraception.
A quarter of those who duped their man said he ‘would have given in one day anyway’, the survey of 3000 mums found.
But half said they were not even bothered if the father stuck around.
Back then it was a poll by my favourite bullshit-mining marketing team OnePoll on behalf of misguided parenting club Bounty, and caused some genuine controversy, more of which you can read here. Although I’ve not seen anything which confirms this, I’d say the angle and the structure of the story strongly reeks of OnePoll again, but that is of course just conjecture. So, back to this latest worthless PR guff (because I’m going somewhere with this):
It found that women aged 35 to 40 were most likely to cheat.
Many were childless and embark on flings in a bid to get pregnant.
But while 15 per cent of men would forgive a cheating wife or girlfriend, just 12 per cent of women would take back a partner who strayed.
Nearly a quarter of single girls said they would consider a fling with a married man or one in a steady relationship.
Brilliant – so not only are those with girlfriends charged to watch their womenfolk with an eagle eye lest the strumpet stray, but also those men on the receiving end of a fling should be guarded as the harlot may just be using you for your sperm, with a paternity suit and child support payments the inevitable result of your liasons dangereux. Good to see this survey has the full range of deceitful women covered, and the full range of unsuspecting men fully warned, then.
What are we missing so far? Inevitably, the PR paymasters, who funded this whole piece of sexist and insulting bullshit in the first place. And while this next paragraph isn’t the fourth paragraph (in order to obey, ahem, Marsh’s Fourth Paragraph Law), it is the 9th sentence – which in an adult newspaper where each paragraph is more than 20 words long, would be around the 4th para. Perhaps I need to adjust the law to a word-count law… In any case, here’s the money shot:
Only 12 per cent of single men would try to bed a married woman or one in a long-term relationship, according to the poll for matchmakers Coffee and Company.
So this whole piece is a backhanded way of getting the name of an ‘online matchmaker’ into the press. While also telling men that women are up for it. Even readers of The Sun can do those sums…
C and C boss Lorraine Adams said: “Sometimes the need to experience motherhood overrides moral values about someone else’s marriage vows.”
Aaaand sometimes the need to advertise your hook-up site overrides moral values about being a decent human being and responsible with the press you put out, it seems.
So, that’s the polling company (who I will provisionally call UnoPollo) and the PR paymasters complicit in this sexist stitch-up, then. But what of The Sun? Surely they are clean as a whistle, after all they’re just reporting what they’re given, right? I think they get a pass on this one.
Wait, hold on a second, what’s that in the ‘Related Stories’… from back in October…
Vile website urges married people to have secret affairs – Source: The Sun
AN attractive couple lie entwined in a cotton sheet – clearly satisfied after what seems to have been a steamy sex session.
Cue subtitles for a dramatic finale: “This couple is married . . . NOT to each other.”The controversial TV ad for an infidelity website caused outrage when it aired in America.
Now, you may think this a little hypocritical of The Sun, having with the left hand poured judgement and scorn (you can pour those by hand, the metaphor stands) on websites set up to help people cheat on their partners, while with the right hand running direct PR copy for identical services. And you’d be right, partly. After all, this isn’t the first time The Sun has promoted find-and-fuck websites – having promoted in April the site ‘F-Buddy.com’ with a story about Jeremy Clarkson’s package.
However, there’s another angle to this – the ‘outraged’ article by The Sun is plausibly and almost certainly not outrage added by the publication (who, after all, published in the region of 4,290 articles on the topic of affairs in 2010). Instead, I strongly believe the outrage angle is in the original press release by the website’s PR team. The theory goes, fake a controversy and you get attention, tell people there’s a new website coming where people can sign up and find someone willing to have sex with them and it doesn’t matter what spin you put on it, people will come.
Could I be right? Well, let’s take a look at the next paragraph… which is paragraph four…
And now it could hit Britain as part of the multi-million pound UK launch of ashleymadison.com.
Plus the remainder of the piece includes a flattering interview with the website founder, a description of the service on offer, a rate card for website features and a couple of sweet human-interest stories:
He clearly revels in the debate over his business but, amazingly, also tries to convince the world there are heart-warming stories surrounding infidelity.
Like the Ashley Madison Diaries, a book written by a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who allegedly found her Prince Charming on the website.
Or the elderly gentleman nursing a wife with Alzheimer’s.
Thus we see the power of manufactroversies, and negative PR. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, sometimes.
For those who follow my Bad News exposures of the murkier elements of public relations in the news, I’ll be speaking on the topic at Glasgow Skeptics in the Pub on January 17th and Nottingham Skeptics in the Pub on March 15th. I’m also available for other SitPs, I’m sure!
Also, I’m one of the orgainsers of QED, which you should ALL come to – February 5th/6th, Manchester, tickets still on sale, visit www.qedcon.org