RICH AND DIFFERENT: No, Mr. Hemingway, It’s Not Just Their Money
For people who aren’t wealthy, the clichƒ of the “poor little rich boy” has always been a source of solace. Those plutocrats may be rolling in dough (goes the popular line of reasoning), but they don’t have the convivial happiness of us common folk. Bad news, my fellow proletarians: It isn’t true. A survey by Town & Country reveals the offensive fact that the rich are happier than the rest of us, and not just when they’re perusing their bank statements. For example, while 53 percent of people in the general population declare themselves “totally satisfied” with the friends they’ve got, the figure rises to 67 percent among the affluent. We find the same sorry tale when it comes to marriage, with 77 percent of rich respondents saying they’ve got a happy one, versus 47 percent of the population at large. As if all that happiness weren’t enough, they also have the satisfaction of feeling virtuous: 67 percent are entirely satisfied with the moral code by which they live, versus
63 percent of Americans in general. And don’t count on a bear market to give the rich their comeuppance: 84 percent say their sense of success “comes from within.”
CLINTON’S LEGACY: The New Dress Code
Among all possible permutations of fact in the Lewinsky-Clinton saga, one holds special terror for men: Maybe the president did not have sex with “that woman” but did buy her a dress! Would that not be a reproach to the husbands who’ve never bought a dress for their wives? Or to the men (single or otherwise) who’ve never done so for their girlfriends? In one reckless moment of generosity, the president may forever have raised the standard of what American women will expect from American men. The fashion industry ought to seize that chance, egging women on to demand of their mates: “Why haven’t you bought me a dress, you big creep?”
MY ROSE OR YOURS? Life in the Slow Lane Looks Better Each Day
While conventional measures show a rise in the average standard of living, people persist in feeling pinched. One reason is that Americans have come to identify time as an asset, and they don’t feel they have enough of it to spend as they please. A survey conducted by Franklin Covey Co. for USA Weekend finds a landslide 78 percent of adults saying they wish they had more time to “stop and smell the roses.” In fact, they may devote many unproductive hours to activities other than rose smelling, but that doesn’t save them from feeling harried. Indeed, 42 percent of those surveyed say they often feel “life is a treadmill, and I can’t get off.” No amount of rosy economic statistics can offset a gloomy sentiment like that. While the pace of life in a high-tech society contributes to this malaise, a majority of respondents (58 percent) believe technological advances have given them more time to do what they want. Women are more likely than men to feel pressed for time, but they’re also more likely to feel technology has helped cut them some slack.
PUBLIC IDAHO: All Your Potato Questions Answered
Since February is Potato Lover’s Month (but you knew that), the Idaho Potato Commission has released results of a nationwide survey on consumer attitudes about spuds. Perhaps reflecting the influence of a vast aluminum-foil conspiracy, 46 percent of respondents said a potato should be wrapped in foil before it’s baked. (Wrong, say the Idahoans, since foiling results in a potato that’s more steamed than baked.) At the same time, 39 percent of those surveyed answered “false” when asked to characterize the statement, “Idaho Potatoes can only be grown in the state of Idaho.” So, it’s clear there are many misconceptions about the tuber. When asked to say what nutrients the potato contains, 53 percent fell into the “don’t know” column. Nevertheless, people still manage to eat potatoes three times a week, on average. One last tidbit: Mashed potatoes are the favorite sort of spud among 36 percent of Northeast respondents but just 16 percent of Westerners.
HELLO, MR. CHIPS: Following Students Around in Cyberspace
However much they fool around in the real world, college students are a diligent lot in cyberspace. The Student Monitor Computing Study finds college students devote just 10 percent of their computer time to playing games. (Or so the students claim.) Student access to computers is practically universal, says the report, and more than 60 percent of them now own one. And, chances are, it’s not a stripped-down system: The study says the students are “heavy users” of CD-ROMs, color monitors and computer speakers. Alas, our scholars are not above piracy, with nearly one-third of respondents confessing that they’ve “borrowed” software. A not-to-be-sneezed-at 12 percent say they’ve bought something via the Internet. (The chart gives a breakdown of the top purchase categories.) The study was conducted by researchers from Himmelfarb Marketing Group, Youth Intelligence, The Princeton Review and Strategic Marketing Communications.
Museum-Quality Insult, A PC in Every Pot, Calling All Looters, Etc.
Will the assault on baby boomers’ tender sensibilities never cease? Aging boomers take it for granted that smart-alecky Gen Xers will needle them. But who expects to be mocked by a museum? It’s even worse for those of us who don’t recall owning the toy identified as The Cootie in this ad for the Minnesota History Center Museum. Such a lacuna can only mean one of two things: Either our parents weren’t indulgent enough to give us what was evidently a defining toy of our childhood era, or we did own The Cootie but have lost too many brain cells in the ensuing years to remember it. Ah, and it will only get worse. Kruskopf Olson of Minneapolis created the ad.
If you want to find a cheapskate, just look in front of a computer. The pioneers of cyberspace are notoriously tight with their money, which is one reason why online content providers have had to struggle to charge for their sites (other than porn, of course). Now, the universe of computer owners is more likely than ever to be populated by penny-pinchers. A study by Forrester Research finds vendors and retailers saying 30 percent to 40 percent of consumer PCs sold during the last four months in the U.S. were priced below $999. By the end of 1999, the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm predicts, the average selling price of consumer PCs will have fallen under $599. Partly thanks to that development, home-PC penetration is forecast to approach 60 percent of American households by 2002.
“Loot” is one of those odd words that has a wholly different mood depending on whether it’s used as a noun or a verb. As a noun, it’s rather cheerful-a term you might apply to the pile of presents a kid scores on his birthday. Even if you’re talking about the ill-gotten gain amassed by robbers, the noun has a raffish air to it. As a verb, though, it usually has a more sinister aura, evoking images of mayhem in the streets. For that very reason, the word grabs your attention when Loot, “The Free-Ads Paper,” dares to use it in verb form for the publication’s latest outdoor campaign. Of course, the headline is playing on the phrase “What have you got to lose?” Well it might, since people can place their classifieds for free. (The paper’s revenue comes from newsstand sales.) And it confers a certain outlaw chic on the New York incarnation of Loot, which is a familiar fixture in Britain. After all, the mild-mannered urbanite who’s trying to sell a used car or (as in the ad above) find a mate might secretly wish to go in for a little pillaging now and then. AD Lubow of New York created the campaign.
Given the mild temperatures prevailing in much of the country this winter, a bird must feel like a chump if it spends half its life migrating. A clever ad for DuPont’s Tyvek HomeWrap insulating material (via The Chapman Agency, New York) takes that idea to its logical conclusion. If Tyvek will keep a cold-blooded bird toasty, one assumes it’ll do the trick for warm-blooded consumers.
When was the first “oy!” uttered? At last, we have an answer to that question. According to The Story of the Jews: A 4,000 Year Adventure, written by Stan Mack, the ur-oy came in response to Abraham’s declaration that God expected the Jews to abide by the Covenant
“forever.” The book presents this event, along with the rest of Jewish history, in cartoon form. Readers of Adweek will recall Mack’s long-running “Outtakes” feature, in which he chronicled the subculture of the ad-agency business.
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