Mixed Blessings

Those cargo pants you just bought? They’re out, having been eclipsed by the preppie look. And your high boots? Sorry-they’re out, too, displaced on the “in” list by high-heeled loafers. So we learn from a study in which Euro RSCG Worldwide solicited the views of “influencers” in high school and college to learn what’s hot for students this fall. Elsewhere on the list, the “equestrian-inspired look” (don’t ask me) is in, while the hippie look is out. Gold is in, silver is out; leather in, tweed out; dark colors in, bright colors out and blazers in, jean jackets out. So, go forth and be cool.

Honors this week for Best Fictitious Business in a Commercial go to a spot for the Maryland State Lottery’s scratch-off tickets. The commercial introduces us to Carol Hives, the proprietor (or communard-in-chief) of a poison-ivy farm. “It all began in the ’60s with the smooth sumac,” she explains. As she rhapsodizes about other itch-inducing species, the farm’s denizens scratch away. “Our philosophy is simple: I scratch your back, you scratch mine.” An onscreen super asks, “Love to scratch?” A voiceover then praises the lottery’s latest scratch-off game. Eisner Communications of Baltimore created the spot.

Don’t take it personally, kid-it’s business.

In last year’s Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown/Yankelovich Partners Travel Monitor, 60 percent of business travelers said they’d try to tack family vacations onto future business trips. In this year’s survey, the number fell to 47 percent. Similarly, just 7 percent reported having taken their kids along on business trips during the previous 12 months, compared to 12 percent in the prior year’s survey.

It’s always tricky for an advertiser to present itself as different-but-not-too-different. A congregation of Reconstructionist Jews in Massachusetts solves the problem by noting its fidelity to the good old right-to-left way of reading. (We’ll assume they’re referring to Hebrew.) Greenberg Seronick O’Leary and Partners of Boston created the ad.

Good news on the employment front: Analyzing data from 1998, the Census Bureau has found 15.7 million businesses that definitely won’t be laying off employees. Why not? Because they haven’t got any employees-or, more precisely, any paid employees. These “nonemployer businesses” posted revenues of $643 billion in 1998.

Who knew high-speed Internet access was a boon to fertility? A Forrester Research study (as summarized by the WorldOpinion Web site) found French families with high-speed access have 2.4 children on average, versus 1.4 kids in slow-access families. Is this because faster access leaves more time for procreation? Perhaps not, in light of the further finding that high-speed households spend twice as much time online as their slow-access compatriots.