A “crack-down” on UK Chiropractors

Chiropractors are notoriously one of the most controversial members of the medical world, and recently UK chrios have been second guessing their participation in the field.

Last year, Dr. Simon Singh was sued by the British Chiropractic Association for publishing his doubts on what some chiropractors were claiming their care could cure.  His article in the Guardian explained  there was little (if any) evidence to support some of the claims used by the BCA concerning what chiropractors could treat.  The resulting law suit got very messy and,  because the UK laws greatly favor those who claim defamation, things are not going well for the BCA.  Much attention is now focused on the questionable treatments the BCA once boasted about.

Surprisingly, much of the “dirt” that has resulted from this case has been uncovered by a group of bloggers that dug deeper into the case than some UK journalists.  One blogger reports that every chiropractor associated with the BCA is being examined for false marketing claims.  The findings show that a staggering one in four chiropractors in Britain are now under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements.

If the BCA is smart, they will rethink their marketing plan STAT, or the world of chiropractic “medicine” will change forever.

Pick on somebody your own size.

Bullies haven’t been cool since Biff Tannen graced our presence, and even he wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box.  North Face has proven they’re not quite the cool guys in school like many may have believed them to be.  When 18-year-old Jimmy Winkelmann created a parody brand, “South Butt,” North Face decided to file a lawsuit against the teenager rather than laughing along with the joke.

The story became viral most recently when South Butt released a Facebook app that allows you to use your judgment to see if you can “tell a butt from a face.”  The popularity of the app strengthens South Butt’s case that their brand is truly a mere parody and proves that the class clown can sometimes come out ahead of the school bully.

North Face’s decision to sue ultimately ruined their reputation.  Sorry Biff, your days are over.

Barclays seems to have something to hide. Oops.

barclaysI’ll open with the line TechCrunch opened with, because it summarizes this situation perfectly:

The lawyers never seem to get the fact that some things just aren’t that interesting until they try to force people not to talk about them. And that’s certainly the case with London headquartered Barclays bank, which has fought the UK newspaper The Guardian all week over the publication of internal Barclays Bank documents alleged to detail huge tax avoidance schemes by the company that total more than $16 billion.

It’s really quite simple.  Before the lawyers made a stink about this, the documents had been accessed by a grand total of 127 people.  Now the WikiLeaks page has been overwhelmed with traffic, and thousands of people have seen the documents.  Oops indeed.

Make sure people don’t know that Ivell Marketing is a boring place to work

Kimberley Swann16-year-old Kimberley Swann had recently been hired by Ivell Marketing & Logistics to do some office administration work — shred paper, scan documents, etc.  She updated her Facebook status a number of times to reflect how boring the work was.  Some of the updates included:

  • first day at work. omg!! So dull!!
  • all i do is shred holepunch n scan paper!!! omg!
  • im so totally bord!!!

Considering the kind of work she describes, I can’t say I blame her for being bored.  Her boss didn’t see it that way.  After discovering the posts, he called Kimberley into his office, fired her, and told her:

I have seen your comments on Facebook and I don’t want my company being in the news.

Oops.  He didn’t mention any problems with her performance, and she hadn’t been using the companies name in her updates.  It’s also not clear whether she was posting from work or not, but it seems that she was.  If it was a problem, he probably should have at least asked her not to play on Facebook during work, which would be fair.

As it turns out, this story is now on the Daily Mail, Fark, Fox News, the Telegraph and many other sites.  So much for keeping his company out of the news.

Nemesysco makes it well-known that their lie detector has issues

NemesyscoA very classic case (via techdirt).  Nemesysco developed a lie detector that apparently has some problems, which were documented by a report in a technology journal by some Swedish researchers.  Rather than debunk their claims, Nemesysco decided to try to silence them with legal action.  Oops.

According to the researchers:

It was hardly their intention. But since the article was withdrawn, I have received lots of mail and requests for copies of the article. The article would not have been read to this extent if the company had simply ignored it in silence.

The fact that they jumped right into legal action rather than trying to set the facts straight tells me that the technology journal probably has the right story.

Did you see the De Beers ad in the NY Times spoof? Now you will.

It’s shocking how many big companies still don’t have a clue about the Streisand Effect.  The latest comes from De Beers.

A couple of weeks ago, a spoofed version of the New York Times was handed out in New York.  They printed thousands of copies, headlined with “IRAQ WAR ENDS” and dated July 4, 2009.  It was kind of funny, everyone had a laugh, and by now we’d forgotten all about it.  Except for De Beers.

Buried in the online version of the paper is a fake De Beers ad.  It wasn’t remarkably funny and didn’t get much attention.  However, De Beers is now sending the legal dogs after it.  Oddly, they’re going after the domain registrar for the site rather than the people that created the ad.

As TechDirt points out, the registrar is clearly protected from this type of action, and the ad is quite clearly a protected parody.  The only thing that’s going to happen is that:

A — More people will see the ad that De Beers wants removed.
B — De Beers comes across looking like a cocky, out-of-touch company.

Nice move.

Don’t make Canon look too good – mediocre is preferred

This is more “idiotic companies” than “Streisand effect”, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Canon has a new 5D MKII camera that apparently is quite awesome.  Robert Scoble was slobbering all over the awesomeness of it, and the CEO of SmugMug wrote a long blog post to show off the amazing video quality.  Canon should have been loving the free publicity.  Instead, they requested the footage be removed, but didn’t say why.  They have some of it posted on their own site, but in much lower quality.

Scoble hypothesizes that the super-HQ video at SmugMug was making someone at Canon look bad, but that’s pretty weak if it’s true.

The only thing I can figure is that it might be an attempt at a reverse Streisand Effect, something that’s never been pulled off successfully — generate publicity by trying to hide something, in the hopes that more people will see it.  In this case, maybe they’re hoping it will draw more attention to their camera.  Maybe it’ll work.  I still think they’re idiots.

Mormons want you to read their old documents

The Mormons aren’t pleased about some old documents on Wikileaks, so they’re suing them to get the documents taken down.  Not only that, but they’re also threatening WikiMedia (because they linked to Wikileaks) and Scribd (because they briefly hosted a copy of the document).

It’s yet another case where it’s having the exact opposite of the desired effect.  Now everyone knows about these documents, and they’ll never be able to get them taken offline.

Why don’t these people understand how things work?

Wall Street Journal rep tries to buy all of the copies of a WSJ parody paper

To mark the April 15 tax deadline, the parody newspaper My Wall Street Journal was on news stands this week, featuring a topless sketch of Ann Coulter.

According to the owner of a local news stand, a man wearing a shirt with a WSJ logo purchased every copy of the parody paper using a corporate American Express card.  He apparently went around to different stands to buy up all of the copies that he could, in an effort to hide the parody paper.

The result was predictable — Huffington Post (NSFW sketch in that link) wrote a story about it, which reached Digg, and now thousands of people have seen the paper.  I would have never seen this story if the man hadn’t tried to hide it.

Wal-Mart is promoting the “Walocaust”

WalocaustA Georgia man had a creative way to protest against some of Wal-Mart’s policies — he created t-shirts and bumper stickers that said things like “walocaust” and “wal-qaeda“, terms which are obvious parodies of Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart sued the guy for violating their trademark, but the claim was rejected today by a federal judge in Atlanta. Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen attorney who was defending the man, had this to say:

“This ruling shows that even the biggest company in America is subject to parody, and that trademark rights must yield to the right of free speech,” Levy said. “This is a resounding victory for First Amendment rights and sends a clear message to big corporations that would try to use their deep pockets to intimidate and silence their critics.”

In addition, Wal-Mart tried to claim trademark violations for the use of “their” smiley face. However, according to a Techdirt comment, there was a battle for that trademark in 1997 which no one won. In other words, Wal-Mart was claiming a trademark violation on something they didn’t even own the trademark for!

So how this this a case of the Streisand Effect? Had you ever heard of “walocaust” or “wal-qaeda” before? Me either. Apparently this guy had only sold one shirt (for $5.10) before this mess began. Now hundreds of blogs are writing about it, giving this man a chance to show why he thinks Wal-Mart is evil. The reason for his sudden surge in traffic is a direct result of Wal-Mart’s own actions…