Mixed Blessings

Perhaps kids aren’t spending all their time in front of the TV. Research by Ipsos-NPD finds Americans bought 201.1 million books for children under age 14 during the first half of 2002. The price tag for all that literature: $762 million. Dollar stores have gained market share, “driving down average prices paid by consumers.” Coloring books and activity books both increased in unit sales, as did storybooks with pictures and sound.

If you can’t make inflammatory remarks about the mighty Cuyahoga, what river can you make them about? Readers of an ad for Cleveland’s Riverfront Cafe will recall the Cuyahoga’s past propensity for catching on fire. In recent years, though, pollution has abated so much that an eatery can boast of its proximity to the river. Brokaw Inc. of Cleveland created the ad.

Ethics are good for you but a waste of time for me. That’s how a cynic might characterize the outlook of some senior-level executives surveyed by the University of Michigan Business School and eePulse after they’d taken an Executive Education course at the university. Asked to name the three areas of study most important for a CEO’s success, 84 percent of them picked ethics. But when asked to cite the areas of study most important to their own success, just 15 percent mentioned ethics.

If the economy keeps sagging, they may not have much of a fortune to bequeath. Still, a survey of “financial decision makers” in households whose income tops $75,000 finds nearly one-third have made a will since 9/11 “as a direct result of recent events.” Conducted for Northwestern Mutual, the survey also finds about one in four “have or are thinking of purchasing or increasing their life and disability insurance.”

Best Fictitious Innovation Cited in a Restaurant Commercial this week: pectoral implants. The muscular breakthrough makes its debut in an animated spot for Daily Grill. We see a lopsidedly broad-chested man displaying his new pecs to his girlfriend. She’s unimpressed, noting that (a) his head now looks tiny and (b) he can no longer see his feet. The theme of the spot (by WongDoody in Los Angeles) is that while the world keeps changing for the worse, Daily Grill does not.

Is there a double standard for prominent men and women accused of misdeeds? Most women think so. In a poll by WomanTrend and The Polling Co., 75 percent of female respondents “strongly agreed” that asuccessful woman is more likely to get “negative attention” than a successful man accused of similar misbehavior. Likewise, 87 percent said that while prominent women are “ridiculed and criticized” for doing something bad, men accused of the same things are rewarded with a “cool” or “humorous” image in public opinion.

At this rate, everybody will be a consultant. In a poll of advertising/marketing executives by The Creative Group, 61 percent said they’re “likely to consider consulting at some point in their careers.” An additional 10 percent have already done so.