back to article Suitably-endowed punters lured into bonking for Vaseline loving

Vaseline is one of 13 brands taking part in a trial of contact-less advertising in Reading, inviting those with an NFC-equipped phone to bonk for more details. The trial will run for four weeks, and involve posters on 300 bus stops and around 25 larger posters, all equipped with wireless NFC tags against which the passing …


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  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Passive not active

    I have always been of the understanding that the majority of publicity was of a passive nature. Surely the idea has been that we subconciously register the images and that this eventually affects our thoughts when we are shopping: ie we will buy the article that we have seen rather the article that we need. Obviously the publicity has to have been well thought out in the first place.

    Are people really ready to move from passive to active ? I can't see many situations where someone would intentionally go up to a publicity and "bonk" it with a smart phone in order to obtain further information.. Ok for bus timetables and other informative billboards, but perfume and Macdonalds, I fail to see the attraction.

    I see this more as trying desperately to use technology to fill a role that does not need filled.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Passive not active

      I don't think I've ever seen anyone use a QR code on an ad...

      I guess they figure everyone is thinking... If only there was a way to do this that would require me to buy a new phone.

  2. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I find it best not to look at posters anyway. It's just advertising crap.

  3. jake Silver badge

    Only about a fifth of my life has been spent in Blighty ...

    ... so please bear with me ... I'm just a Yank :-)

    Shirley they aren't actually calling it "bonking"? That'd be bonkers.

    But then ... it is advertising ...

    ::bangs head on wall repeatedly::

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only about a fifth of my life has been spent in Blighty ...

      Besides, there are better lubricants, for bonking, than vaseline.

      1. Cameron Colley

        Re: Only about a fifth of my life has been spent in Blighty ...

        In fact, Vaseline is not recommended for bonking as it can weaken rubber.

      2. Andus McCoatover

        Re: Only about a fifth of my life has been spent in Blighty ...

        "Now, tell me again how sheeps' bladders can be used to prevent issue..."

        (Thanks Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Saved my day!)

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Only about a fifth of my life has been spent in Blighty ...

      I call my Oyster card a "doinker". I "doink" in and out of the stations.

      I'll license my idea to them for several billion dollars if they are interested.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


      El Reg's house style seems to be NFC = Pay by Bonk. I heartily approve. It certainly gives them good scope for headlines and puns, as well as confusing everybody.

      I say, bring back Lappy!

  4. Adrian Jones

    That has got to be a candidate for the best ElReg headline of all time. :)

    In other news, you owe me a new keyboard. :)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      El Reg should sell NFC to the public, they might actually succeed where everyone else has failed.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Skinner's pigeons

    Prof. Skinner was a behavioural scientist who showed how pigeons (and rats, but let's not call advertising targets "rats": "bonkers" is probably derogatory enough) can be conditioned into performing actions for rewards. In his experiments, the pigeons would peck at a disc and be rewarded with a small amount of food. They quickly cottoned on to the action/reward idea and the Prof astounded the world with his discovery.

    It now seems that advertisers have caught up with the research and are now attempting to train people to do similar things for even less tangible rewards. Who says the human race isn't progressing? Maybe we're evolving into well-trained pigeons.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Skinner's pigeons

      The stage after that is probably where Mokey Coke appears.

      Note:This is a literary reference. It's a book everyone should have read at least once.

      A thumbs up to the first El Reg reader that can provide a link to said book's Wikipedia entry :)

      1. Ty Cobb
        Big Brother

        Re: Skinner's pigeons

        Would it be Brave New World?

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Skinner's pigeons

          Nope, sorry.


          Both novels are worth a read. The still work really well even given the age of the first one.

          1. Michael Dunn

            Re: Skinner's pigeons

            cf also "The Space Merchants" Poul and Anderson.

            The coffee contains an addictive for the cigarettes which contain an addictive for the "Chicken" which contains an addictive for the coffee, not necessarily in that otder - it's fifty odd years since I last read it.

            Got Foyles' address in the pocket.

            1. Michael Dunn

              Re: Skinner's pigeons

              Sorry - Pohl - I think Poul was Anderson's first name.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Skinner's pigeons

        +1 for the Fred Pohl reference.

        Didn't Coke Cola originally have a little cocaine in the recipe to give that famouse "lift"? I wonder if there was enough to cause a low level addiction?

    2. Colin Millar
      Thumb Up

      Re: Skinner's pigeons

      But the real point comes when you extend that to the next stage.

      Do the action/reward thing enough times and the subjects continue with the action long after the reward has stopped being provided.

      A bit of conditioned response plus some Bernay's PR sauce and what do you get?


  6. TonyHoyle
    Thumb Up

    Lets hope they remember to write protect the tags this time

    Previous experiments along this line have been sidelined by people rewriting the tags to point to goatse, etc.

  7. TRT Silver badge

    It's bad enough...

    with all the bluetooth adverts beamed at your phone when you go to the cinema. Mind you, that is one way to make sure you have your phone switched off in there.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: It's bad enough...

      You have bluetooth on by default and discoverable? concious of you. Not to speak of the extra battery juice draining away.

  8. Steve the Cynic

    Has everyone forgotten?

    About seven years ago, something like that, there was a brief fad for contactless advertising(*) - you put the company's name in your phone's Bluetooth identifier and paired up with the poster for some sort of bonus - and it appears that this has been, thankfully, forgotten. The idea, I suppose, was that many people would forget to remove the name from their settings, and thus get the name in front of the eyes of more potential punters. While I did have a Bluetooth-equipped phone at the time (a RAZR, whose 100 metre range Bluetooth was allegedly illegal to use outdoors in France), I had no intention of standing in the Tube station faffing with my Bluetooth settings for a fecking advert. So that's why it was forgotten...

    (*) I have a problem with this term. Advertising in most media is contactless, in the broad sense that it does not involve contact between the advert and the consumer. I can think of only one sane form of contactful advertising: Braille ads targetted at blind people.

    1. Tom 35

      contactful advertising

      Scratch and sniff perfume ads?

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: contactful advertising

        Fair dues, I'd forgotten about those. So, only two sane forms of contactful advertising...

        But I suppose that those things set up so you can try the electric massager that clips over the back of your chair, the "touch me" windows on packaging, so you can buy the product covered with everybody's finger grease, the little scraps of paper by arty pen displays so you wind up buying a half-used-up pen, etc. count, although possibly not as *sane*.

  9. Joefish

    So, this is a system designed for people who want to actively seek out more advertising?

    Can't see any problem with that...

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    A headline that demands a read...

    Not sure I agree with NFC vs QR though - for one QR is a lot cheaper to run (think magazines) and requires a lot less effort plus it works from a distance. In general anyway, perhaps the code on your linked-to site being towed behind the plane is one of several exceptions...

  12. TheProf Silver badge

    The sound of breaking glass

    "Reading was chosen for the trial because it is one of the UK’s most tech-savvy towns........." and because it's a 90 mile round trip from our London office. Just enough to justify the company car if we visit daily.

    Does one really have to 'bonk' one's phone against an advert for NFC to work. Really? What, take my £500 phone out while standing next to a load of 'yoofs' in a bus stop and tap it against an advert.

    That's going to work!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The sound of breaking glass

      Or you could use the train - it's the first mainline station outside of London. City->Reading takes somewhere in the region on an hour and most of that is on the Underground.

  13. lotus49

    Drop bonking references

    Since The Reg is a UK web site, I think it's time you stopped using the word bonking in this way. Bonking does not mean touching your phone against something (not here anyway). It's even more of a scam when you combine the word with a reference to a well-known lubricant.

    This is the second time I've read a Reg story on false pretences - this has to stop.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Drop bonking references

      If your looking for the other type of bonking your on the wrong site.

      Reminds me of the time someone got all upset because I was talking about male and female DB25 connectors. Wanted me to change the name... I was soooo tempted to say Barbie and Ken.

  14. Andy Hards
    Thumb Up

    While QR might not exactly be setting the world alight

    I have noticed the number of ads in higher end publications that contain a QR code seems to be growing by the day. I tried to point this out to a few folks at work and they had no idea what they were (although they all had QR readers on their phones), a year ago however you would have been lucky/unlucky depending on where you stand, to see one per publication.

    I think some people are desperate to see these in use simply because of the upgrade in equipment it will mean. I have taken part in numerous surveys lately asking how I would feel about paying for things this way and what would be n upper limit etc. I'm all for it but think QR will be everywhere before long and NFC will really need to do something special and needed to counter QR.

  15. Mark 'Brain Fart' Berry

    You have to look on the bright side, now when someone kicks you in the nuts and knicks your phone, they can get you to pay for their escape on the tube, and pay for a McNasties to replenish their, errr, energy. Oh, and sign you up for a crapload of advertising so that when you get your replacement phone you have a stack of messages about 'products'.

    Modern technology. Love it.

  16. Andus McCoatover

    Bloody QR codes....

    Recently there were two job ads. in both the local paper, and on screen*.

    Nothing else, except the agency's name - probably a legal requirement.

    Only if you had a phone to read the code, did you get the URL and thus pass Stage One.

    Try writing a covering letter on the laughable office suite on a Nokia N8..

    *On a screen, needless to say, the thing could NEVER work, hence EPIC FAIL!!!

    1. Andus McCoatover


      Tried several times before on same monitor with no success, but now (Win2K--> Ubuntu - different frame rates?) the N8 reads the code reliably...

  17. Mitch Kent
    Thumb Down

    Evidently I must be the only one.

    Lets start with QR codes. I've used them, my missus (a nurse) has used them. They aren't rocket science once someone has explained how and are a lot easier than manually typing in web links.

    As for NFC, I have a Galaxy Nexus and a bunch of NFC tags. When I get home, I tap the tag in the kitchen. Wifi is turned on, brightness turned up, etc. When I tap the tag on my bedside table, alarms are set, brightness set to low, media volume set to low...

    Oh and the tags mean you don't even have to open an app. Putting your phone next to a poster is virtually zero effort. (Whilst QR codes basically have no extra cost to the advertiser)

    You're restricting these technologies to advertising a little prematurely, and they do have a purpose, so what's the harm if they help even a few? I don't get the hate.

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