Phight! Phight!

May 6, 2009

I was reminded this week of the playground shout ‘Fight! Fight!’ which was guaranteed to send all scurrying to the corner in which two lads were grappling, rarely landing an actual blow, before being parted by an amused teacher, feigning anger.

The reminder came by virtue of the discovery, courtesy of Lilian Edwards’s {Pangloss site:}, of a new development in the Phorm saga. It would seem that Phorm has decided to hit back at its critics – but it has only succeeded in creating the most shambolic playground fight I have witnessed. It hasn’t even stirred up an opponent.

Phorm has created a new blog-style page: (I haven’t hidden the url in a link as its title just adds to the phun). It exposes its critics for being ‘privacy pirates’, although that is not a form of piracy that appears in my edition of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice nor a form of piracy that gives one much status on the coast of Somalia. I commend it, but for amusement only and not by way of endorsement of its views.

The reaction of those named and shamed seems to give a fair indication of the likely success of this new initiative. They were clearly rather pleased (‘where can I buy a parrot’ was one reaction). One comment to me (which I haven’t cleared so it had best be anonymous) was: ‘The merits of all controversy aside, it’s the worst idea I’ve seen implemented. How could you build a successful brand on this kind of footing? These guys’ AIM advisers must be either deluded or horrified.’

My theory is that it’s a decision made by Alan Sugar’s latest crop of apprentices. Having been given the task of marketing Phorm, one of them (Ben, the aggressive leprechaun, perhaps) suggested fighting fire with fire. And you end up with a disaster.

I have, or at least had, more sympathy for Phorm than most, but detentions all round seem appropriate for this new move.

Still one good thing has come out of all this. I have resolved never again to use ‘ph’ instead of ‘f’ in any piece about Phorm – after today obviously.