Archive for the ‘Consume!’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at June 5, 2002

Category: Consume!

Early on Friday 30th May, we instigated a campaign to unclog Alex, who had been feeling the effects of stress and a significant change in habit. As part of this, we suggested a number of scaled activities to ensure that Alex received treatment for his condition.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

While sending a full range of Senokot products to the producers was entertaining and quite fulfilling, we pretty much came to the conclusion that a live protest at an eviction was a step forward that really couldn’t wait a week. By now it was midday. Could we get tickets? Could we get there in time? Would our protest be heard? Most importantly, would our message reach the television audience?

The care package we sent to Endemol

Getting The Tickets

The first step was to get tickets. These are normally available through a company called Powerhouse (020 7240 2828), who supply free tickets to a hundreds of audience-based shows. The difficulty being, of course, that we were after tickets for that very night. Not easy.

I won’t tell you how we managed it in the end, because we don’t want the poor dears to be overwhelmed by last-minute demands for Big Brother tickets. Let’s just take it as a given that mere mortals such as your good self are required to book at least a week in advance – probably much earlier as the show nears its end and excitement reaches a fever pitch.

Getting There

The easiest method for most who live in and around London is by public transport, with the nearest station being Elstree & Borehamwood. Be warned, however, that it’s a fair walk from the station to the studios and they don’t let you out until around 11:00pm (so you really have to hightail it back to the station to get back to Kings Cross in time for the last trains).

If you drive like we did, don’t park in the Tesco car park (which is right next door). Do so and you will be clamped. There are bright pinks signs that will direct you instead to a council car park a few blocks away that’s free after 6:30pm. Here’s an online map showing the location and its proximity to the station.

Getting There Early

To ensure a full house, Powerhouse actually ‘oversell’ tickets to off-set the risk of no-shows. Unless you’re blessed with a ‘guaranteed entry’ ticket, you’ll probably have to arrive at least 2 hours ahead of the scheduled entry time (8:45pm). We arrived pretty much bang on 7:00pm and managed not only to get in, but also get a good position one row back from the front, close to the studio doors (this gets you more Davina-time – see below). Again, as the series progresses, you may have to get in even earlier.

Standing In Line

Standing around for two hours is kind of dull. If you’re going alone, take a book. If you want to make friends, take a portable television set. One chap armed with such a device found himself to be very popular, especially as Lynne’s eviction was announced. As you might guess, nearly all of the conversation centred on Big Brother, but we quickly found ourselves on the outskirts of most exchanges once our fascination with Alex’s bowels came to light.

Security and production crew will drop by in advance to make sure you’re not carrying anything offensive. This really is quite important information, especially if you’re arriving by public transport (if you can’t take it in and you have nowhere to put the contraband, you’ll have little choice but to throw it away or stay outside with it).

Placards and Signs
These will be inspected very closely – front and back – for offensive messages and brand names (both frowned upon). Signs with sharp edges or long handles will similarly be rejected for reasons of safety. Our placard had an extra-long handle, which we had to break in half to please security. The sharp edge that resulted seemed much more dangerous to us, so we spent the next 20 minutes blunting it against the tarmac.

Food and Drink
You won’t be able to take any food or drink in with you, but you should also avoid overdoing it while standing in the queue, as there are only a few portaloos inside (and trotting off to any one of these is sure to lose you your place). There is a McDonalds across the road if you feel you must fuel up with sugar and grease, but you should expect this outlet to be very busy from about 6pm onwards.

Smoking
Smoking, surprisingly, is permitted.

Other items not allowed inside the studio grounds include:
– Cameras
– Recording devices
– Alcohol
– Anything that could be remotely described as an offensive weapon

You will be searched, frisked and scanned with a metal detector on the way in. I made the mistake of taking my work bag, which was full of metal items and presented a big headache for the security team. Thankfully, I arrived just as there was a backlog at the main gate, so I wasn’t responsible for holding up the line – but having to juggle items from my back, front, rear and coat pockets as I opened various side pockets on my bag was not something that I’d want to repeat. The moment when they produced not one but two bottle openers was hard to top for its sheer embarrassment factor, but what I entirely forgot was the large box on Senokot tablets that I had in my jacket pocket from the photo shoot earlier that afternoon. I got through pretty quickly after that, but in the end, they felt they had to object to something, so the larger of the two bottle openers did end up in the bin.

Our advice is to check your bag and belongings before you go and shed anything you have any doubts about.

Being Herded

Once the ‘guaranteed entry’ ticket holders and those with colour-coded wrist bands (i.e. the beautiful people) have been escorted to the front, it’s time to let in the rabble. This is done in groups of about 100 people, who are herded past the Big Brother house and into place in the fenced reception area.

The first thing that strikes you when you see the Big Brother house is how small it is. The other is how big the security dogs are. Don’t even entertain the notion of yelling a message or throwing anything over the fence as you go past, unless you want to end up as a late supper.

Waiting and Watching

Once you’re let in, there’s yet more standing around to be done, but they do at least have ‘live’ footage from the house projected onto the plain white wall that faces the reception area.

From time to time the warm-up man will get you to yell and scream for a bit and hold your signs in the air. This lets the producers and cameramen line up what they consider to be the best shots.

Similarly, the lovely Davina will make an early appearance to fish for material from the front lines. This appearance will be brief and fleeting, and she won’t get anywhere near the core of the crowd (at the bottom of the stairs). We used this opportunity catch her eye with our extra-large banner and inform her of our Let’s Get Alex Moving campaign.

Famous for 0.15 seconds!

Blink And It’s Over

After over an hour of ‘very soon’ this and ‘a few minutes’ that, it’s time for the show. By now, the crowd is well-revved up you’ll find yourself with much less personal space as the harsh reality of the cameras sets in and people naturally surge to the front.

Davina did her preliminary walk-past and did, as it turned out, mention our banner and the campaign behind it – but we didn’t know about this until we got home and watched the recording. The crowd was that loud.

Lynne was evicted from the house and guided past the one-sided gauntlet. Davina and Lynne made their way past the crowd and into the studio within a matter of seconds. One idiot jumped over the fence and was quickly spirited away by security. I think they fed him to one of the dogs.

All that remained was to watch the post-eviction interview on the house projection but, truth be told, after 4 hours of waiting resulting in 40 seconds of activity, most of the audience outside was wondering when they would be allowed to go home.

That time didn’t come, of course, until half an hour later. Davina appeared just once more (again, getting nowhere near the core of the crowd) to get some vox-pops, and was quickly spirited back into the studio.

Announcements were made, gates were opened, and all that was left was the march past the Big Brother house and the ever-vicious guard dogs. We did, however, have one more task before our evening was over.

Damn it, we had a campaign to run, and pamphlets are central to this. We made our way to the head of the crowd as best we could and turned around to face the oncoming multitude. Cries of “Help us to help Alex” were largely ignored and for a moment it looked like we would go home with nearly all of our 200+ pamphlets. An ingenious change in promotional tactics followed, where we instead implored the crowd to “Help us to help Alex’s bowels”. We ran out of pamphlets in less than a minute. Go figure.

All in all, it was an educational experience, but not one we see ourselves repeating. Unless, of course, Alex looks to get the boot this Friday, in which case you should keep an eye out for us front row, centre.

Cheers all.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

Support our campaign to unclog Alex.

Check out this enormous collection of Big Brother links.

This site is in no way endorsed or recognised by Endemol, Bazal or Channel 4. You can access the official Big Brother site here.








Posted by Tim Ireland at May 31, 2002

Category: Consume!

Let's Get Alex Moving!

Viewers of Big Brother will be more than aware of Alex’s recent lack of reliable bowel activity. Such a condition is quickly and easily attributable to a combination of a sudden change in diet and/or habit, and stress (though the presence of a camera in the toilet is a contributing factor that cannot be discounted).

The ever-lovely Narinda (from Big Brother 2) continues to suffer, associated as she is with the stigma of stubborn stools. This is an association that most of viewers of the show will carry with them forever, so we are concerned not only for Alex’s general well-being, but also his future as a photographic model. The last thing we want is for his career to be tainted by people wondering whether that gorgeous pout is strictly for the camera or a sign of general discomfort.

This we would consider to be extremely unfair. The producers, knowing full well that this kind of thing can happen, should have taken measures that ensured a high-fibre intake to offset the dangers of this sudden change in lifestyle and the effect it can have on one’s digestive system.

Sadly, the time for dietary solutions has passed – but, while Alex has actually been in the diary room suggesting the possible need for a suppository and lubricant, affirmative action need not be this extreme. We do live in the 21st century, after all, and many far less intrusive measures are available to us. (Unless, of course, Alex would prefer a suppository – in which case we would support him wholeheartedly. At the very least, it would make for very interesting television.)

Even if Alex has experienced some relief recently, it does not necessarily mark the end of this condition. To ensure that Alex and the rest of the housemates have the opportunity to remain happy, healthy and regular, we intend to employ the following progressive plan of action.

Step One
Voice our concerns to the producers of Big Brother.

We’ve already emailed Endemol to advise them of our position, making very clear our intentions to escalate activities should we not see and/or be informed of immediate and decisive action. We would also urge you, the concerned viewer, to send an email yourself, expressing concern for the housemates’ health. Similarly, it would also help if you could spread the word regarding this campaign (see below).

Step Two
Ensure that the correct treatment is on hand.

This morning we picked up the following range of treatments from the country’s leading laxative brand, Senokot. The pharmacist quite rightly asked us why we needed so many laxatives, so we explained about the campaign. He was a Big Brother fan, and subsequently really helpful! He confirmed that 6 out 10 constipation sufferers atttribute their condition to ‘changing routine, changing diet and water, or going on holiday/away from home’. He then spent the next five minutes outlining the differences between the products. Which we’re now going to share with you…

Our care package includes:

Senokot Tablets (20 pack and 100 pack)
A single dose at night gives a ‘predictable result by morning’.

Senokot Syrup
This was described as a ‘pleasant fruit flavoured syrup’ suitable for adults and children over 6 years old. So even if Alex has a problem with tablets, relief is but a spoonful away.

Senokot Granules
We liked this product the most. These are chocolate flavoured granules that can be eaten ‘off the spoon, mixed with milk or sprinkled onto food’. We think they’d be pretty yummy on top of ice cream, but he’d have to keep it well clear of Alison.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

The above products were then packaged and sent by courier to the producers of the show, along with a letter that, yet again, voices our concerns for Alex and the rest of the housemates. As with the email, the letter also makes clear that, unless action is taken soon, we will have no recourse but to escalate the campaign.

Step Three
Operation Enduring Obstruction

On the same shopping trip, we also picked up some extra tablets and a few tennis balls. Close followers of the show will be aware that it is relatively easy to throw or hit such a projectile well over the security cordon and into the central compound itself.

Our tennis balls, however, will contain a ray of hope. Stuffed inside each ball will be a blister-pack of 20 Senokot tablets and a photocopy of the instructions. Only one need reach a fellow housemate for Alex to finally have access to a more-than-ample course of treatment. There should even be enough left over, even in this single emergency supply, to address the discomfort of a number of other housemates.

We do not wish to encourage this kind of loutish behaviour, but as a housemate is at risk, we don’t see ourselves as having much choice.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

UPDATE – We’ve been emailed by yet another helpful pharmacist (what is it with these guys?) who informs us that sending treatments like this in such a fashion could be interpreted as ‘sampling’, which is little bit naughty, apparently. So, no tennis balls.

Frankly, we’re quite relieved. While at the Big Brother house (see below) we got a good look at the layout and saw several good launch positions – but we also got a good look at the size of the security dogs.

Step Four
Operation Overkill

Should our efforts to place the treatments directly in the housemates’ hands fail, and if the producers still refuse to address this issue, we will have no choice but to take our protest further into the public domain. Grass roots action will begin at the evictions themselves, where supporters will be present to not only hand out informative leaflets to concerned fans of the show, but also carry out a formal protest come airtime with chants, placards and at least one dog on a string.

We have the materials and a number of concerned followers on hand for this activity, but if you would also like to take part, we would welcome the support. Email us today.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

UPDATE – We were there for Lynne’s eviction. We not only managed to get our main placard on screen twice, but we also got a direct mention from the lovely Davina who pointed out our sign and explained; “I think it has something to do with Alex’s bowels”. (Quite helpful of her, we thought. Perhaps she should think about a career in pharmacy.)

We also handed out hundreds of pamphlets outlining our cause and directing people to the website. We started handing these out with the phrase ‘Help Alex’ and didn’t get many takers, but once we started up with ‘Help Alex’s bowels’, folks couldn’t snap them up quickly enough. We ran out of pamphlets in less than three minutes.

After all of this, we still haven’t heard from the producers, so it looks like we may have to start cooking up a Step Five. We welcome suggestions by email.

How To Support This Campaign

We welcome all levels of support for this campaign. Any or all of the following measures will help us to achieve our goal.

Email a Link To This Page
Even if you don’t have a website or weblog, you can spread the word by emailing a link to this page to your friends and family.

Link To This Page
One of the most powerful things you can do as a site owner or weblogger is link to another site. Doing so by either or both methods below lets your audience know about our campaign.

This first link is your standard ‘go and look at this’ plug. How and where you do this is completely up to you, but you can cut and paste the following to make it easier if you like:

Use Our Protest Button
A nice, eye-catching way to ensure that your audience sees and understands the importance of our mission. Again, all you have to do is cut and paste the following into your weblog.

Let's Get Alex Moving!

We appreciate your time, and will be publishing updates here as they happen. May your bowels remain happy and healthy.

[UPDATE – Read about our adventures at the eviction @ Big Brother: The Eviction Experience.]

[FINAL UPDATE – Hooray! Success! Big Brother did give Alex the treatment he required. Out of the choices provided, he chose the syrup and has commented on air at least twice about how tasty it is and how it didn’t make his insides explode ‘like you see in the movies’. We don’t know what kind of movies he’s been watching, but we suspect they have something to do with cliched teenage pranks. Hooray for Hollywood and visions of exploding bottoms!]

This site is in no way endorsed or recognised by Endemol, Bazal or Channel 4. You can access the official Big Brother site here.








Posted by Tim Ireland at March 22, 2002

Category: Consume!

It’s no secret that I run more than one site. I happen to be quite involved in Search Engine Optimisation amongst other things, and one thing I do as part of this is run experimental sites to test methods and techniques.

One such site is smellfinger.com

In commercial terms it doesn’t serve much of a purpose beyond its largely academic use as a research tool. Mind you, I nearly always cater such sites to my interests to make the work more appealing.

In this case, the interest is focused on my objection to the commercial and marketing methods of Tommy Hilfiger.

Elitist. Racist. Both words could be used to describe the marketing approach of this label and many others, but in this particular case a decision was made to parody Tommy Hilfiger’s ridiculous advertising and the hedonistic standards that they promote.

I felt that this statement simply wouldn’t have been strong enough unless you were actually able to buy the clothes. Sadly, you can no longer do so through the Smellfinger site as the third party store (CafePress) has suspended my account after receiving notification from representatives of Tommy Hilfiger that the store ‘allegedly contains material which infringes upon her/his copyright rights’.

Oh, really?

First, let’s start with a direct comparison of the two logos:

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the colours are different. The second is that the words are different. Those with poor vision who can’t read English might not be able to tell the difference, but this combined condition normally only exists within the populace of impoverished third world nations, and we all know that clothing labels like Tommy Hilfiger have no involvement or interest in such places.

Perhaps the people at Tommy Hilfiger think that they hold the copyright of the colours red, white and blue. This being the case, I would like to present some other examples of copyright infringement that they may wish to pursue:

OK, forgetting the colours for a moment, let’s get back to those words and what they represent, shall we?

‘Timmy Smellfinger’; what does this mean? It means that my name is Tim and I think that a certain company stinks. To be more precise, I think that it has blood on its hands. That’s just my opinion, mind you – but one that I have a right to voice, particularly in terms of parody when it comes to fair use. My right to express this in such a way is protected by the Copyright Act of 1976, which clearly states that:

“[I]n order to constitute the type of parody eligible for fair use protection, parody must do more than merely achieve comic effect. It must also make some critical comment or statement about the original work which reflects the original perspective of the parodist–thereby giving the parody social value beyond its entertainment function.”

Let’s look at that logo again:

There’s my name, there’s my statement, and yes, there’s the clear representation of blood on the hands.

As Tommy Hilfiger’s representatives have not contacted me about the removal of the site itself, I might assume one of two things:
– They’re using an easy-to-bully commercial enterprise to enforce a small measure of censorship.
– They are fully aware of my rights under ‘fair use’, so can do nothing about the site, but are of the opinion that, when seen out of context (i.e. on a t-shirt, away from the site) that the Smellfinger logo no longer qualifies as a statement or parody in a legal sense.

If the latter is the case, then I can only say “rubbish”.

It should be perfectly clear that a shirt adorned with the Smellfinger logo is not a Tommy Hilfiger logo, but rather an anti-Hilfiger statement. If anybody is in any doubt about it or requires more information, a URL appears on each item of clothing.

I’m in two minds as to what I should do about this. Sending a counter notice to have my CafePress store reactivated involves all sorts of headaches that I could do without.

Some would argue that I should be happy that I’ve got their attention, and that if the CafePress suspension was their best shot, then I should be happy with it as a result.

UPDATE – Within a month or two, this article was getting better search results and far more traffic than the actual site it was about (probably because Hilfiger’s actions and my published response provided far more useful information than the considerably gentle parody at smellfinger.com) so when the time came around the renew the domain, I simply let the site pass away into the ether.








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