Lying Low: Giving Dishonesty A Bad Name True or false: The incidence of lying dropped to an all-time low in the second half of 1998. It’s no lie, if one restricts consideration to lies on job-seekers’ resumƒs. Jude M. Werra & Associates issues a semiannual Liars Index based on its work in checking out educational credentials claimed by candidates for senior-executive positions. In the first half of ’98, the Brookfield, Wis.-based firm detected lies on 22 percent of resumƒs–the most since it initiated the Liars Index. For the latter half of the year, though, the index plunged to 8 percent. As the firm delicately suggests in its analysis, “our nation’s fixation on lying during the past year could possibly have something to do with the downward swing.” Sounds plausible. But it leaves us to wonder exactly why Bill Clinton’s case would exert a deterrent effect on potential liars. Given his job-approval ratings, one could argue that Clinton has demonstrated the efficacy of lying. The politicians who complain about lies are the ones getting hammered. Still, while Clinton’s job ratings are high, his numbers are embarrassingly low when poll respondents assess him as a person. For all their reluctance to take a moral stance against lying, people may find it more and more aesthetically tacky–hence, something they’d rather avoid on their own account. Has the heretofore popular practice of lying been sullied by association with this tawdry affair? Well, the bystanders are always the ones who get hurt. Count The Ways: Your Tax Dollars In Love Those incorrigible romantics at the Census Bureau have assembled a lovely bouquet of statistics to mark Valentine’s Day. Here’s an alarming one for men in the prime marriageable years: Among Americans age 18-44, there are 114 unmarried men for every 100 unmarried women. Among those 45-plus, though, unmarried women outnumber unmarried men. Meanwhile, if you fail to buy flowers this weekend for your mate, he or she may upbraid you with the fact that the U.S. had 26,728 florists at last count. Among other fun facts: The most populous place in the U.S. with “love” as one of its syllables is Loveland, Colo. Loves Park, Ill., sounds like a nice venue for al fresco assignations, while Lovelock, Nev., may appeal to kinkier tastes. But you might prefer to whisk your beloved away for a romantic jaunt to Valentine, Neb., or Valentine, Texas. On The Road Again: There’s No Place Like 100 Miles From Home One doesn’t instinctively turn to the Department of Transportation for insights into the dynamics of the extended family. But that doesn’t stop the department’s statisticians from providing them. Consider this nugget from a new report on long-distance leisure travel (i.e., trips of 100 miles or more) in the U.S.: While one-third of such trips at last count were to visit friends or relatives, “one in three travelers did not consider visiting friends or relatives a vacation.” The feeling was probably mutual, too. The report shows U.S. households averaging seven long-distance trips per year. Over half of these jaunts (58 percent) were of less than 500 miles round trip. Business travel accounted for 23 percent of the trips, but for 43 percent of air travel. A mere 4 percent of journeys were to foreign countries. And of the trips beyond our borders, about half were to Canada or Mexico. Apart from day trips, long-distance travel entailed an average stay of 4.3 nights away from home. Given the number of long-distance trips people took, the report says, that works out to an average of three weeks spent away from home. Unblends: A Singular Moment In Marketing History First, single-malt scotch became a badge of connoisseurship in the ’90s. Now, an item in Bloomberg magazine informs us that “single-note” cognacs are in vogue as an upmarket alternative to the run-of-the-mill brands, which blend dozens of individual cognacs into a single concoction. Amid the current mania for luxury, one wonders what other products might lend themselves to price-boosting specialization. Single-grove orange juice, perhaps? (We’ll have a half-gallon of the Chateau Kissimmee, please.) Or milk exclusively from Holsteins rather than Guernseys? Better still, why not milk from one exceptionally contented cow? The V8 people could appeal to today’s refined palates with a series of eight different V1 juices. Granted, such products might appeal more to the ego than to the taste buds, since they proclaim the consumer to be a unique, unblended personality. But that wouldn’t make the brands any less profitable. Villains, Please: Righting All Wrongs, In The Following Order Once you’re an adult, scarcely anyone expects you to become a more socially conscious person than you already are. But school kids can’t make it through a day without being drilled in the importance of one good cause or another, since there seems at least a chance they can be persuaded to care about such matters. Polling conducted among 12-17-year-olds for Porter Novelli’s Los Angeles office indicates the current hierarchy of concerns. As you can see from the chart, respondents were more exercised by active misdeeds (e.g., racist or violent behavior) than by unfortunate situations in which there is no obvious villain to blame (e.g., world hunger or lousy education). And that may give a hint as to how issues could best be framed in public-service advertising that seeks to alter the kids’ own behavior for the better. MIXED BLESSINGS Not My Kid, Please, On-the-Wall Creative, Fictitious Water, Etc. Would you like your child to grow up to be president? In current circumstances, one hopes parents have more noble ambitions for their offspring. And it turns out they do, at least among those responding to an online poll by a Web site called Parent Soup (www.parentsoup.com). While 21 percent would like to see their kids as chief tenant at the White House, a landslide 79 percent said they would not. Literal-minded consumers may not perceive the benefit of a product that distracts firefighters when the house is going up in flames. Others have different priorities, though. Decor-conscious readers will take the point of a Wallpaper Council ad that a few rolls of paper can transform a room. Another ad in the campaign (via Pagano Schenck & Kay of Boston) shows a couple gazing adoringly at the wall as their baby swings unnoticed from the ceiling fan. The clever ads demonstrate anew that while witless exaggeration is a blight, imaginative exaggeration can be charming. As in this case, it displays the client’s boundless enthusiasm for its wares while tacitly conceding that the rest of us don’t altogether share that perspective. The result is to leave people feeling their intelligence has been respected–never a bad idea, whatever your opinion of that intelligence may be. Didn’t you always suspect Mike Tyson was a romantic? Now we have confirmation, thanks to a feature timed for Valentine’s Day in a magazine called The Icon A List. The new monthly asked various celebrities to name their favorite love songs, and Tyson’s choice was soft-rock chestnut “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. Can’t get much more romantic than that. If you feel Marilyn Manson is a malign influence on the youth of America, you’ll be pleased to learn that the pop-music star was voted “Most in Need of a Make-Under” in a Spin reader poll. Manson also tied with Courtney Love for the hotly contested title of “Most Overrated Artist.” Fascinating as they are for job seekers, personnel-recruitment ads are not famous for creative flair. But there’s no law saying they have to be dull. If there were, somebody at Leo Burnett’s Bombay outpost would be in hot water for eliding “pen” and “is” in an ad seeking a proofreader for the agency. Honors for Best Bogus Brand of the Week go to a bottled water called Glacier Drip. The schtick: This water is bottled as it drips from glacial icicles, which are melted by Glacier Drip staffers holding hair dryers. The fictitious brand makes its debut in what turns out to be a spot for real-life PureTouch, a Moen faucet with a built-in filter. While it may not have the cachet of water from a glacier, water from a PureTouch will be pure and tasty. And, as may not be the case with some brands of bottled water, you’ll know for sure that it wasn’t just scooped out of the nearest pond and poured into a fancy container. Cramer-Krasselt of Chicago created the spot.