Archive for the ‘Consume!’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at May 31, 2008

Category: Consume!

This became an irretrievably stupid idea from the moment the newspapers started to cash in on it.

(Both London freesheets had it on their front page yesterday, and it’s in several nationals today.)

My advice to you if you’re planning on a day or night out in London today is to avoid the underground system. You certainly shouldn’t put yourself in a position where you need to rely on it.


UPDATE – Alternatively, you could throw caution to the wind and have a drinking competition.


Posted by Tim Ireland at May 14, 2008

Category: Consume!

Amy Williams – Burger King fires two for filings about farmworkers: Burger King has fired two employees who made online postings that “did not reflect the company’s views and which were in violation of company policy,” the fast-food restaurant chain announced Tuesday. In an e-mailed statement, the Miami-based corporation also said it has stopped using Diplomatic Tactical Services, a Hollywood, Fla.-based investigative firm, because it violated Burger King’s code of conduct. The company would not say which employees were fired.

So, Burger King, what you’re telling me is that action was taken over Steve Grover’s sock-puppeting, but you’re not going to tell me exactly what action (if any) was taken against Steve Grover. Meanwhile, numerous sock-puppets remain and continue to fight your corner over the CIW matter throwing punches you’re forced to pull (e.g. claims that this is a vendetta, that CIW are corrupt, that the pickers are illegal immigrants, etc.) under this very article.

You’ll have to do better, I’m afraid.

UPDATE – Tch. Too late for Burger King to grasp the nettle now:

Amy Williams – Two identified as no longer working at Burger King: Although Burger King won’t say which two employees it fired for vilifying the Coalition of Immokalee Workers online, the company’s main phone system contains no extensions for vice president Steven Grover or spokesman Keva Silversmith. Both numbers worked Tuesday, the day Burger King announced the firings without naming which employees were let go, but this morning they didn’t. An operator at the company’s Miami headquarters who declined to give her name said neither Grover nor Silversmith work for Burger King any longer.

Posted by Tim Ireland at May 9, 2008

Category: Consume!

Remember Steve Grover, the Burger King of sock-puppets? The matter is finally news in the UK.

If they start denying stuff, I have lots saved to disk… so I wish Burger King well with their whitewash.

[Psst! BK peeps! Why haven’t you fired this git yet?]

PS – Totally unrelated, but this is all kinds of awesome. (via)

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 29, 2008

Category: Consume!, The Political Weblog Movement

[NOTE: a lot of this will seem familiar to most regulars… but I’ll only be mentioning one obvious name that came up recently anyways.]

The CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) recently found a spy in their midst. They have also been the victim of a series of anonymous comments questioning their honesty, integrity and motives.

See if you can spot the cleverly hidden smear in this statement from Burger King denying their involvement in such things;

“I have no idea what should be secret about helping farmworkers” – Keva Silversmith, spokesperson for Burger King (source)

An entertaining intervention from Mr Silversmith, but the man to watch here is Steven F. Grover, Burger King’s vice president in charge of food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance (i.e. ethics).

Steve Grover was last year compelled to withdraw several claims and suggestions that he could not substantiate about the CIW pocketing money meant for workers.

Soon after that, someone was making very similar claims anonymously:

Take a look at this comment by ‘Activist2008’ under an article by Amy Williams:

Activist2008 wrote:

Unfortunately, with a little research you will find that the CIW is a self-serving attack organization that has no real members. See their IRS filing form 990. ( ) The CIW creates conflict and spreads misinformation to reap millions in cash. As I read in your article Burger King supports the CIW’s goals and has has tried to work with the CIW. Why don’t you question that with the CIW?. Sounds like you support the unquestioned internet extortion tactics the CIW is so good at. For 6 years the CIW protested YUM, McDonald’s and now Burger King and the workers in Immokalee are not seeing a single penny of the money nor audits. The CIW has accomplished nothing in the last 6 years with its self-serving missinformation and attacks. The CIW is not helping the workers by speading this missinformation and asking others to follow in its self serving attacks.

3/6/2008 1:18:28 PM

Now take a peek at a comment by this same individual under another article by Amy Williams about these and other anonymous attacks being traced back to Burger King:

Activist2008 wrote:

What a paranoid rant, I have never seen such a crock. For the record my comments are my own and have nothing what so ever to do with Burger King. I like how you attack your reader s freedom of opinion and speech! Sounds like my poor little opinion has really made the CIW mad along with their little writer. Tells me that the CIW has something pretty big to hide and might just be up to no good? Instead of the paranoid rant how about proof that the workers are really getting the money the CIW says they are. I suspect changing the subject is a lot easier than that proof!

4/13/2008 9:42:57 PM

We’re really in familiar territory here, aren’t we? There’s an added highlight posted under the equally convincing username ‘humanrights’…

humanrights wrote:

I note that the CIW is always attacking and trying to pick a fight with Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods Chipotle and others? If the CIW was truly about helping workers why are they always on the attack, picking fights and so totally paranoid. Any real human rights group that is truly out to help workers would be happy to have a big company attend their meetings. The company might learn something! Now the CIW is calling that spying! Clearly the CIW must have a lot to hide and I don’t believe they are out for the workers at all.

4/15/2008 3:45:28 PM

Activist2008 was also active on YouTube under the name ‘activist2’. This since-deleted comment was made 3 weeks ago under this video of a CIW demonstration and press conference

activist2 (wrote):

The CIW is a self-serving attack group with no real worker members. The CIW creates conflict and spreads misinformation to unquestioning duped supporters via the internet. The CIW reaps millions in cash from unknowing or duped supporters. Burger King does not hire tomato pickers, you might as well protest yourself for buying tomatoes in the supermarket. The protesters are supporting the CIW extortion tactics to line the CIW’s pockets. Who is really exploiting the workers!

Again, I ask you to compare these comments with a recent view/position expressed by Mr Steven Grover…

Independent – Slave labour that shames America: “We see no legal way of paying these workers,” said Steve Grover, the vice-president of Burger King. He complained that a local human rights group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers “has gone after us because we are a known brand”. But he added: “At the end of the day, we don’t employ the farmworkers so how can we pay them?”

Now we’re near the really fun bit, and some very, very familiar ground. Watch this:

One month ago, ‘activist2’ posted the following to another CIW video

activist2 (wrote):

The CIW is a bunch of fools who don’t have a clue how the world works. People need jobs and these folks are protesting the wron people.

But the most interesting entry is this entry from two months ago by ‘surfxaholic36’ under that same CIW video

surfxaholic36 (wrote):

The CIW is an attack organization lining the leaders pockets by attacing restaurant companies. They make up issues and collect money from dupes that believe their story. To bad the people protesting don’t have a clue regarding the facts. A bunch of fools!

That second comment was made using the YouTube account of… the daughter of Steven F. Grover, Burger King’s vice president in charge of food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance (i.e. ethics)!

Amy Williams – Daughter of Burger King VP says dad wrote anti-coalition postings: Although Shannon Grover also uses the name surfxaholic36 – mostly on social networking sites – she said the anti-coalition posts are her father’s alone. “I don’t really know much about the coalition and Burger King stuff,” she said, reached by phone at the family’s Miramar home Friday. “That was my dad. My dad used to go online with that name and write about them.” Asked if she’d ever written about the coalition online, she was adamant: “No, that was my Dad. That was him.” Steven Grover did not return calls to his home or office, nor did Burger King spokesman Keva Silversmith respond to calls and a request to speak to Burger King CEO John Chidsey.

Click here and scroll down for the rest of that article (it’s under a mirror of the AP article)… oh, and do look out for this comment that appears to be an authentic intervention from Mrs Grover. Watch closely as she plays the victim, lays the smear and makes her threat:

mdmom2008 wrote:

This is a little girl, far from 18 years old! This reporter and publication choose to cross that gray area and speak with her, without parental concent. The reporter, according to my daughter, did not make it clear that the was a reporter, only giving her name and that she was from Ft. Myers. I, as her mother, am livid that the Senior Managing Editor Cindy McCurry Ross allowed reporter Williams to expose the screen name and personal name of my young daughter, exposing her to the dangers of the internet. I am even more so apalled, as Ms. Ross states that she is a mother too, and she understands, but it seems she is more interested in producing this type of yellow journalism, than protecting children and tomatoe pickers alike. She also refused to give me the steps involved to get Shannon’s info. She suggested she close any use of identity they used. So, this child who as you can imagine, has not been to PR training was frightened and still recovering from this incident.

4/28/2008 1:47:59 PM

Later in that same thread, ‘humanrights’ makes a welcome return…

humanrights wrote:

Well it looks like this totally proves what surfxaholic36 was saying. The CIW and their writer at the News Press are far more interested in attacking Burger King and anyone associated with the company than helping farm workers! What does all this have to do with helping farm workers at all. Comrad Williams you ever heard of free speach? My guess is you do not think much of it and would stamp it out if you could.

4/28/2008 10:53:54 PM

Yes, that’s the spirit. You keep reaching for that rainbow… and a bloody spell-checker!


I would like to make my position on this clear if I may:

This was a clumsy, blunt, and downright dirty PR campaign to begin with.

Exactly how much of the anonymously-delivered portion Steve Grover was directly responsible for remains unknown, but he either knowingly posed as his daughter in order to anonymously smear the CIW or (more likely) was doing a little work from home and – like Grant Shapps – used the wrong account during this sock-puppeting attempt.

For that alone he deserves sacking.

Unless of course Burger King are a bunch of bastards who reward such behaviour, in which case Grover should get a raise and his daughter should get a pony (or a car, depending on how old she is)… if she can be convinced to play ball and keep her mouth shut in future.

UPDATE (10pm) – I just spent a few lazy minutes trying to find out how reporter Amy Williams might have made the Grover connection and/or discovered the number for the family home. I got very far, very fast. I tried it again from another angle and quickly ended up with the same information, plus some added details for Mrs Susan/Susie Grover… who will probably shout at me if I show you those details and the names and photos of both of her young daughters that she herself has published online alongside a nickname/email used by Shannon, thereby (*dramatic pause*)… exposing her to the dangers of the internet!

[Psst! At that same location, Steven Grover also makes a contribution which neatly ties everything back to his role at Burger King; the page displays the bulk of Steve’s work IP address next to his entry which is in the range and most likely to be specifically.]

UPDATE – A lovely round-up from The Consumerist

UPDATE – Oh, and I really should mention that while Burger King is using the cheapest of tricks to cheat workers out of a pennies, they are also launching a $170 burger in the UK. Class.

UPDATE (30 Apr):

1) My tracking reveals that a few people from the Burger King Corporation dropped by last night. One of them had a bit of a poke around. Hello Burger King, peeps. With you in a sec…

2) All comments from the latest Amy Williams article were deleted at some stage last night. Since then, a number of other comments have been published screaming about the right to free speech, liberal Nazis, etc…. it never gets old, does it? Emailing, watching and waiting today to see what happened to the old comments.

3) Mrs Susie Grover has removed some of the sensitive material that she herself put on the web (this time, it was her turn to exploit Shannon in pursuit of a buck) but I won’t be linking to it or even dropping hints about where it can be found, as it still reveals their home address, Susie’s mobile number and a fax number which is actually their main phone number at home. (She’s the wife of a VP and she can’t afford a dedicated fax line? Burger King must be squeezing every penny.)

4) Most of Mrs Grover’s gripe is likely to come down to the reporter initially assuming that young Shannon was 18, because Shannon claimed to be 18 on one of her main online profiles. If the Grovers can’t be bothered to check their daughter’s public profiles – when not using them to engage in flame warfare for their corporate masters – then they’ve only got themselves to blame and they have no place playing the victim or waving little Shannon in our faces (again).

shannon profile data

5) Psst! Mr and Mrs Grover! You might want to have a quiet word with Shannon about toilet-papering people’s houses. Seemingly harmless pranks like this can end in tears. Perhaps Steve can sit down with her for a bit and teach her how to treat other people with kindness and respect.

6) Hello again, Burger King peeps. Will you be firing Steve Grover over this smear campaign or not? Normally, I wouldn’t expect you to, but a VP using his daughter’s YouTube profile to smear activists looms before you as an international PR disaster. Just something to think about.

UPDATE – One of the photos published by Mrs Grover is a classic of the ‘family portrait at the mall’ genre (right down to Vaseline on the lens), and I wanted to share it with you. I tried a version using facial pixelation, but that seemed too creepy. This is better, yes?

Steve Grover

Posted by Tim Ireland at April 22, 2008

Category: Consume!

The Register – UK Office of Government Commerce cracks one off: Quite remarkably, our informant suggested that, having spent the cash, OGC intends to roll out the logo anyway. Well, we contacted the OGC for comment, and a spokesman gamely explained:… “The proposed version, which you have sent over, has been shared with staff, and is now going through final technical stages.”

Tch. I am greatly disappointed that they did not use the word ‘retooling’.

Apparently, this is the result of a year of development! A whole bloody year! I’m in the wrong game.

(If you’re having difficulty seeing what’s obvious to filthy-minded proles like myself, simply tilt your head to the left.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at March 3, 2008

Category: Consume!

The Register – How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection: Internal BT documents obtained by The Register for the first time provide solid technical information on how data from millions of BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse customers will be pumped into a new advertising system.

El Reg promises more on this story; in the meantime, Political Penguin digs in here and here.

See also:
Guardian – You might call it “resistance”: 95% say they’ll opt out of ISP’s data-sharing deal
BadPhorm – When good ISPs go bad!

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 14, 2008

Category: Consume!

Read this, please.

Sign here, please.

Posted by Tim Ireland at February 4, 2008

Category: Consume!

Sydney Morning Herald – Ads to woo British more sledge than sweet talk: Australia is to launch an aggressive campaign aimed at attracting a new generation of British immigrants. The ads for the South Australian Government include slogans such as “Sod London house prices” and “Screw working in Staines, hello Adelaide”. Bill Muirhead, an Adelaide-born partner in the M & C Saatchi ad firm in London, and agent-general for South Australia, said he was aware the campaign might create enemies. “It might appear we are being rude, but a lot of things in Britain aren’t good,” he told The Times. “We went for Staines because it sounds nasty.”

Well, I can’t argue with that last point, but otherwise they can go screw themselves; I love it here.

Posted by Tim Ireland at November 6, 2007

Category: Consume!, The Political Weblog Movement

Via Toby

The Register – EU cracks down on fake blogger astroturfing: Nothing beats word of mouth for getting people to put their hand in their pockets. So it didn’t take long for cheeky marketing departments to cotton on to the power of blogs and pose as consumers praising their own particular widget to the skies to help lift their top line. Sneaky, perhaps, but usually legal. Not for much longer, however, as covert commercial blogging – or flogging – will soon be banned by Brussels. Under laws due to come into force at the beginning of next year, but likely to be delayed until April for the UK, companies posing as consumers on fake blogs, providing fake testimonies on consumer rating websites such as TripAdvisor, or writing fake book reviews on Amazon risk criminal or civil liability.. Those that break the new rules risk both civil proceedings and criminal prosecution. When it comes to catching the guilty in flagrante, the authorities will be allowed to make test purchases and enter premises without a warrant, if necessary. But the crucial word here is “risk” – the government has already indicated that only serious infringements will be prosecuted, although it is probably best to assume that it will prod into action the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards, the chief enforcement agencies, should an illegal commercial blog gain a high media profile.

I would dare say that the same law will apply to repeated false-face endorsements of certain political websites that also involve significant commercial interests.

There are some doubts about the effectiveness of the new law when “only serious infringements will be prosecuted”, but the risk of prosecution is sure to, at least, keep mainstream agencies and clients on the straight and narrow.

OK, so I’m an optimist…

Posted by Tim Ireland at August 21, 2007

Category: Consume!

Pretty much since cheap plastic was invented, there have been cheap plastic dress-up and accessory kits for kids that allow them to roam the neighbourhood as a nurse, a cowboy, a police officer, etc.

My, how things have changed.

Now, thanks to Woolworths and Chad Valley, we have cheap plastic dress-up and accessory kits for kids that allow them to roam the neighbourhood house as a wizard.

And not just any old wizard in league with magical otherworldly forces, no… but instead, a wizard in league with the State of Israel!


'Star of David' wizard book and dress-up kit in Woolworths

[Trivia: A pentagram (“inverted”, no less) was once the seal of the city of Jerusalem.]

UPDATE – Over at B3ta, some peeps remember a similar association involving Chorlton and the Wheelies: The show was sold to numerous countries around the world. However it was never sold to Israel after a graphic artist mistakenly drew a Star of David instead of a Pentangle on the front of the talking spellbook, which spoke with a Germanic accent.

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