Worst pitch of the month: TaxiGuard and fending off 'rogue taxi drivers'

The end of the fiscal year round-up includes a mobile app for defending "helpless" females and "dumb" tourists.


We're getting down to the wire when it comes to the end of the fiscal year, not to mention many people are already cashing in vacation days for Fourth of July.

Thus, it has been slim pickings in June for PR pitches, bad or good.

Nevertheless, let's end the month on a funny (albeit somewhat queasy) note.

This month's winner (or loser) was sent to one of my colleagues at ZDNet's sister site CNET, which she graciously shared with me for my enjoyment, and now yours. Take a look:


I am contacting both you and [REDACTED] as much because you are women, as for your stated area of responsibility. We seek a review of our iOS app TaxiGuard, described at www.taxiguardapp.com.

In an article on the UK feminist blog The F Word, http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/12/how_to_be_a_vic, the author states baldly that "Women get raped by taxi drivers" - as if this is an immutable, albeit chilling reality. Her theme is "blaming the victim"; but the TaxiGuard app is all about the vulnerable taking back control.

Melbourne designed, but for global use; it is directly aimed at a full spectrum of crimes perpetrated by rogue taxi drivers. Unlike other personal safety apps, a strict focus on taxi travel means we can be proactive rather than reactive. We can certainly call out the cavalry when required, but our taxi-specific features make it quite clear to a rogue before the fact - that he will not get away with it - whatever "it" may be. This is true for minor petty fraud, all the way through to sexual assault and worse. Rogue drivers may see "helpless" females, "dumb" tourists or inattentive drunks as targets, but the app is all about presenting them with unavoidable consequences.

http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2013/jun/03/fighting-rape-and-rip-offs/, shows we have attracted attention in Las Vegas, due to their significant problem with the fraud of "long-hauling" - a worldwide phenomenon, which is comprehensively addressed by TaxiGuard, as a review would show.

I applaud the underlying purpose behind this mobile app, which is to protect people (regardless of gender, really) from harm in potentially dangerous situations. And if you have data access when traveling abroad in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, I see the purpose there too.

It's just the wording of this pitch that really irked both my colleague and I.

Without reading too much into this, I'll summarize by arguing that admitting this pitch was sent to these journalists because they are both women is irrelevant -- especially for leading off the email.

All that was necessary was acknowledging they are both journalists who cover technology -- specifically mobile devices and apps.

Of course, that's not all >>


While this one made the rounds a few months ago and gained some notoriety already on other news sites and blogs, I can't help but include it here too.

Sometimes we get a lot of product samples, typically mobile phone cases and books about starting a startup.

This is one product sample I will not follow up on. Read for yourself:

Lollyphile, a gourmet lollipop company, is happy to announce they now offer Breast Milk Lollipops & have a revamped website that doesn't look like it was built by a blind monkey using Geocities in 1998. 

For Immediate Release

Austin, Texas, (June 4th, 2013) – Award-winning gourmet lollipop company, Lollyphile (www.lollyphile.com), is super happy to announce that they now carry Breast Milk Lollipops and have a new & easier to use website.

I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, but it seems like all of my friends are having babies these days,” said Jason Darling, the owner of Lollyphile. “Sure, the kids are all crazy cute, but what slowly dawned on me was that my friends were actually producing milk so delicious it could turn a screaming, furious child into a docile, contented one. I knew I had to capture that flavor."

Lollyphile prides itself on offering lollipop flavors that don’t exist anywhere else, from Absinthe to Sriracha. "Any company can make up nostalgic flavors," said Darling. "We'd like to think that we're tapping into a flavor our customers loved before they even knew how to think."

"It's sad that so few people are able to remember this inherently wonderful flavor," Darling continued. "It's a real shame that babies are so selfish, but you'll understand their unwillingness to share once you try one of these."

Lollyphile's website has been revamped into a new, not-painful-to-browse format and has been populated with fun (and even sexy) pictures of Lollyphile's friends and family. "Our old website looked like it had been built by a blind monkey using Geocities in 1998. I'm not embarrased to admit that I was that monkey," said Darling. "Our new site has great design, fantastic models, and even (for some reason) a commercial! It's been a lot of fun to put together, and we are going to continue to add new models as new flavors come out."

For more information about Lollyphile or Breast Milk Lollipops, or if you’d like high resolution pictures, samples, or discount codes for your readers, please email us at press@lollyphile.com or call Jason Darling at 415.690.5198.

About Lollyphile: Lollyphile started in San Francisco in 2008, offering Absinthe and Maple Bacon lollipops. Since then, they’ve substantially grown their flavor list, moved to Austin, Texas, and have had a lot of fun. They’re pretty cool. You should probably get to know them.

Now, that Maple Bacon one sounds appealing. (And at the very least, I actually love the Geocities shout-out.)

Images via TaxiGuard, Lollyphile

Previous editions of Worst Pitch of the Month:


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