Logo of Uni Lad from 2010 to 2012
Type of site
|Viral internet media content|
|Owner||Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley|
|Created by||Alex Partridge|
|Launched||April 2, 2010|
Unilad, styled as UNILAD, is a United Kingdom internet media company and website. Before its relaunch in 2014, the site, then referred to as UniLad or Uni Lad, promoted lad culture and targeted male university students in the United Kingdom, describing itself as the "number one university student lad's magazine".
The site shut down in 2012 after controversy over misogynistic content. The brand and its Facebook page were subsequently acquired from owner Alex Partridge and relaunched in 2014 at unilad.co.uk with "no shared association at all" with the previous website. Now "one of Facebook's most popular content producers," the new website has become a top publisher of video content. The page had 17 million followers in 2016, with 2.7 billion monthly video views, second to BuzzFeed's "Tasty" channel in views and are first in global engagement.
Site creation and ownership
Alex Partridge from Eastbourne and James Street, a student at the University of Plymouth, created the original website. According to an FAQ on the website in 2010, the site was "created, designed and written by Alex Partridge", then a 21 year old student at Oxford Brookes University. James Street, then a web design student at the University of Plymouth, managed technical aspects of the site, claiming that he was "not responsible for writing or checking the content that gets published".
In 2014, Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley acquired ownership of the brand name and inherited its Facebook page.
The 2010 website described itself as being "for when you are bored in the library" and "the 'tongue in cheek', article based solution to library boredom". The site also set up a "Uni Ladette" page with "debauched disasters" from a "borderline alcoholic" female writer that they supposedly found in "a gutter, muttering something about needing to get laid and nursing her broken stilettos".
The site attracted considerable critical comment in the press and on Twitter due to perceived promotion of rape in some of the articles on the website. Articles that have been reported on in the press include:
- Sexual Mathematics – said that 75% of women aged 18–25 were "sluts" and advised readers that if a woman did not display any interest in having sex (which they described as "spreading for your head"), "think about this mathematical statistic: 85 per cent of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds." The article concluded with a mock disclaimer: "Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying 'surprise'."
- The Zebra Abortion – described how, following sex, the writer told his sexual partner to take the morning-after pill. After saying she wanted to keep the pregnancy, the writer considers "performing an elbow drop on her vagina right there and then", but decides instead to "look around the room for a chair or table I can smash onto her stomach".
- How to Pull a Fresher – gave advice on how to sleep with a freshman, noting that they are "especially vulnerable".
- The Angry Shag – described the story of a man who, during sex, smashes a woman's face into a wall "to knock some sense into her".
The website also contained a shop section that sold T-shirts with a variety of slogans, including a rape-themed T-shirt in the style of the World War II-era Keep Calm and Carry On propaganda posters reading "Keep Calm – It Won't Take Long".
Estelle Hart from the National Union of Students said that articles on the website promoted a "casual trivialisation of rape". In response to the suggestion that it was simply ironic or humorous, Hart argued that "a website referring to women as wenches and slags isn’t simply the harmless ‘banter’ the writers want us to believe".
A number of student newspapers published editorials condemning Uni Lad including those at the University of Bristol, the University of Birmingham, the University of Liverpool, and Newcastle University.
The BBC Radio 4 magazine show Woman's Hour interviewed a number of female students in Brighton who described the 'Sexual Mathematics' article as "vulgar" and were very critical of sexist comments and 'banter' on Facebook.
Sarah McAlpine wrote an article for The F-Word, a UK feminist blog, which argued that Uni Lad was "an entire culture summed up in one hideous website". The website TechRadar listed it as one of the "10 most hated websites of all time".
Following the public reaction, Alex Partridge from Uni Lad said that the site "overstepped the mark" and "took things too far", and claimed that he was taking the site down until they have "greatly improved" their editorial policies.
The University of Plymouth launched a disciplinary investigation against James Street who claims to be the designer of the site but not involved in the content. The University of Plymouth Students' Union released a statement saying that there "can be no question that some of the content published on the Unilad.com website is completely unacceptable and offensive in nature", but stating that they would not make any further comment on the matter due to the investigation that the university was leading.
The brand was acquired by entrepreneurs Liam Harrington and Sam Bentley in 2014. The rebranded Unilad launched in 2014 at unilad.co.uk. The UniLad Facebook page, inherited in 2014 with 300,000 fans, grew to have 11.5 million Facebook likes by 2016, with a web presence at unilad.co.uk.
Harrington and Bentley stated that they decline to publish some submitted content due to backlash, and The Guardian notes that its content differs significantly from that of the previous iteration of the website. The site is described as having a reputation for "trivial lad-focused videos," with titles such as "5 On 5 Fighting Is Back And It’s F*cking Brutal."
- "Twitter fury over 'surprise rape' article gets UniLad suspended". The Week. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Jackson, Jasper (31 January 2016). "Unilad's Liam Harrington: 'We are absolutely not a lads' mag'". The Guardian.
- "Unilad Brings In Manifest London To Help Build More 'Mature' Brand". Holmes Report. 19 March 2017.
- Sportelli, Natalie (19 March 2017). "How The 24-Year-Olds Behind UNILAD Reach Billions With Viral Online Videos". Forbes.
- "Uni Lad website creator 'appalled' over rape comment". BBC News. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "FAQ". Uni Lad.[dead link]
- "Uni Lad – Home". Uni Lad. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011.
- "Uni Ladette". Uni Lad.[dead link]
- Kidson, Millie. "UniLad: When 'banter' becomes dangerous?". LSMedia. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
- Morris, Rachel (2 February 2012). "UniLad shuts down over 'rape' article". TheNationalStudent. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- McAlpine, Sarah (5 February 2012). "Unilad: an entire culture summed up in one hideous website". The F-Word. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- McAuliffe, Naomi (1 February 2012). "Slogan T-shirts that help you spot a moronic misogynist, from Uni Lad". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Millard, Neil (2 February 2012). "Fury at student website for 'condoning rape'". The Sun. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Bernhardt, Lisa (13 February 2012). "UniLad.com goes temporarily offline after public outrage over rape jokes and misogynistic humour". The Courier Online. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Burley, Patrick (20 February 2012). "Why UniLad wasn't just a problem for women". Epigram. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Balcombe, Alex (17 February 2012). "UniLad under scrutiny". Redbrick. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Unilad and Lad's banter". Woman's Hour. BBC Radio 4. 21 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Marshall, Gary (8 June 2012). "10 most hated websites of all time". TechRadar. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- "UPSU Uni Lad Statement". University of Plymouth Students' Union. Retrieved 8 February 2012.