DirectGov – Government Services and Gay Porn all in one place

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(This Blog first appeared on www.thedrum.co.uk where Gordon is a regular contributor, and again as an article in the Drum Magazine.


(Update from Gordon) – Within a few hours of this blog being posted DirectGov took the site down – see their full response in the comments section below.

(Update number 2 from Gordon) – 8 days after the story broke DirectGov complaints department have responded to the online contact form I filled in before posting this blog to say “Dear GMK –  We have seen the item. Our press office have issued the following statement:” the next bit was just the same statement as posted on this blog comments section previously. Clearly one part of DirectGov doesn’t know what another part is doing and this also proves that if you want something done don’t complain write a blog!

You must have seen those hideously expensive adverts on TV for www.direct.gov.uk with the big celebs like, well you know, her that used to advertise the sky digital box with Bruce Forsythe and well you know other celebs!

Well the website of the UK government has had a big budget, a big launch and a big campaign aimed at getting people to visit the site but they have also made a huge cock-up (oh maybe that’s an unfortunate choice of words).

The site even has a kids section http://kids.direct.gov.uk and to make it more kiddie friendly they have called it “Busters World” complete with an image of a friendly dog (presumably called Buster) who is wearing a sheriffs badge (nice bit of trust imagery).  The site describes itself “DirectgovKids helps you find out about the world around you. We have loads of fun games, exciting videos and cartoons and much more!” Have a look:

directgov kids

OK what is so wrong about that – well let me tell you it is very, very, very wrong!  In a spectacular piece of poor brand naming strategy which must have included no research whatsoever Busters World is also the name of a fetish gay porn site (I am not making this up honestly).

Imagine this, little Johnny learns about the site at school under the supervision of his teacher and comes home and tells mommy all about the fun new website Busters World and asks if he can go on it. Of course he can, now Johnny can’t remember the domain name and types Busters World into Google and the first site listed is probably not what he expected but there is a big balloon on the front page so it’s obviously for kids right?

busters warning page

When you click on the “I agree to these terms” button (which I only did for research purposes) you land at a very friendly welcome page where men with fashionable facial hair are having fun with balloons (and what child doesn’t like balloons?).

busters porn page

The Power of Twitter – I found out less than an hour ago via twitter, Falkirk based @More4Mums the online discount maternity clothing store http://www.more4mums.co.uk who tweeted.

“My 6yr old tells me she was on Busters World at school – Googled to have a look OMG !!! Real link here http://ow.ly/13TrB” And then later “How can someone be so stupid as to name the kids portal on directgov “Buster’s world”??? Internet safety anyone??  A few direct messages later and I have to say I share her indignation.

Ok lets pause for a few minutes … have you stopped laughing?  It took me a while but when the initial madness of this situation sinks in you will realise that the organisation ultimately responsible for child safety legislation in the UK has made a web, branding and child safety blunder of epic proportions.  Little Johnny will be damaged for life and may even end up becoming a politician!

The site NEEDS to be renamed now and given that the Drum community includes some of the leading branding experts from around the world lets be proactive and come up with some suggestions for a new name.  A packet of Smarties for each of the best three suggestions and we will pass it on to DirectGov.

So leave a comment and let me know what you think of this terrible situation (hint) and what your suggestion for the new name for the site.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Intelligise – Be Brilliant

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