The Case of the Monster Slipper

An article recently appeared in various British newspapers telling the story of one Tom Boddingham who ordered a size 14.5 slipper from Monster Slippers. But due to a translation error, the factory in China that makes the slippers sent a size 1450 slipper instead.

monster slipper

Polly Curtis at the Guardian thought the story smelled a bit fishy. And with the help of some people on Twitter, she soon figured out that "Tom Boddingham" coincidentally looked identical to Joseph Jennings, the online retail manager for Monster Slippers. In other words, the entire story was a PR stunt.

The thing about stories like this, which pop up with amazing regularity, is that the debunker actually can't help but publicize the PR hoaxer even more by repeating the story. Which plays into their hand. For instance, I'm now aware of Monster Slippers, and I never would have been if it weren't for the Guardian article. P.T. Barnum was very aware of this phenomenon. He would sometimes purposefully spread rumors debunking his own hoaxes in order to generate renewed media interest.

So you have to wonder, would it be better simply to ignore these PR stunts, and thereby not give the PR people the publicity they're looking for? It's a bit of a dilemma. Though my feeling is that the debunkers should never be blamed for doing their job. (Thanks, Laurie!)

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Posted on Thu Oct 20, 2011


It's clever, it's funny, and if debunking it gives it more publicity, what's the problem?
Posted by Chakolate  on  Thu Oct 20, 2011  at  03:10 PM
Heh. Seeing this repeated as fact in a few other places..

As PR hoaxes go, this one's pretty blatant. There's a prevailing sense of 'Oh come ON people' when you read it.

ALso: Tom Boddingham is totally going to be the name of the next hobbit I play in D&D.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  on  Fri Oct 21, 2011  at  01:14 AM
I think it's a good advertising strategy, at least this one and besides...........I really love that slipper-bed!!!
Posted by hulitoons  on  Sat Oct 22, 2011  at  04:42 AM
I really really want one of those slippers! 😊
Posted by Nettie  on  Sun Oct 23, 2011  at  04:02 AM
A pair of them would certainly come in handy up camping! 😊
Posted by daveprime  on  Thu Dec 01, 2011  at  09:33 AM
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