July 24th, 2012
Today’s generation is more obsessed with materialism and consumerism than ever before. This much, we know - it’s one of the truisms of our age, not least because of the unquestioning way the media parrots this very message on a regular basis. See, for example, the Daily Mail, July 23rd:
Keeping up with the Joneses’: Comparing ourselves to our Facebook friends now at a whole new level
Everyone is guilty of having a quick flick through their Facebook friends’ holiday snaps from time to time.
But according to a new study, the common idiom ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’, which refers to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social caste, has been taken to a whole new level thanks to social media.
To fail to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ is perceived as demonstrating socio-economic or cultural inferiority and now it has been revealed that one in five Facebook and Twitter users admit they now constantly compare themselves to others based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their ‘friends’ on social media sites.
The message is clear - in this connected consumerist age, our increased access to the social media status updates and therefore to the social status updates of our friends makes us feel inferior, causing us to become more competitive. Specifically, what are we meant to be competing on? Fortunately, we’re given a list:
The latest study by personal loans provider savviloans.co.uk, shows that ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ is now a high-tech affair, with the constant stream of pictures and status updates of holidays, purchases, weddings, babies, new homes and other boasts leading to the rest of us questioning our own lifestyles.
Of course, regular readers would have spotted that the ‘study’ was conducted by savviloans.co.uk - a personal loans company, who you might argue have a strong commercial incentive to emphasise the importance of keeping up with our neighbours, and buying things we can’t afford.
A quick google for ‘savviloans.co.uk press release’ finds us the source of the story - it really is that simple.
From here we can see that the savviloan’s parent company Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance hired Leeds-based PR firm Hatch Communications, who in turn commissioned a survey via polling firm Opinion Matters, which produced this whole story.
What’s more, we can then take the text of the press release over to Churnalism.com, where we can see that Bianca London of the Daily Mail, who apparently wrote this article, actually took 85% of the press release, adding only 15% of her own take on the story:
To emphasise just how remarkably similar these two stories are, I pulled both the original press release and the Daily Mail article (apparently written by Bianca London) into Word documents, and flicked between them, like this:
Which I think says it all.