Takes




question of the week: Do You Prefer Giving Advice or Getting Advice?
In the dreams that disturb their fitful sleep, marketers envision their brands carried to new heights by favorable word-of-mouth. The assumption is that we heed the opinions of friends and neighbors even as we resist marketers’ own sales pitches. No doubt there’s some truth to that. But do people enjoy getting advice as much as they relish giving it? In a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek, 48 percent of respondents said they prefer giving advice, 31.5 percent said they prefer getting it and the rest were undecided (perhaps awaiting advice on which they should favor). Among women, giving outpointed getting by 20 percentage points, while the gap among men was 13 percentage points. In a breakdown of the data by age group, the often-advised 18-24-year-olds were the most likely to prefer giving advice, with 64 percent making that choice and just 24 percent preferring the other. The narrowest pro-giving gap was among the 25-34-year-olds, with 46 percent of them preferring to give advice and 42 percent preferring to get it.

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Office, Please: Mr. Blandings Finances His Dream House
New homeowners are a logical target market for companies that sell all sorts of big-ticket items. Trouble is, those folks may be tapped out by the time they’ve moved in. A survey of house shoppers around the country finds 45 percent of first-time buyers saying it’s a struggle for them to scrape up the cash for a down payment. Conducted for Professional Builder magazine, the study also finds 60 percent of respondents saying they’d choose a home office rather than an extra bedroom when trading up to a larger house. (That way, your boss can stay with you instead of your mother-in-law.) Perhaps it’s because they’d like to live far away from the non-home office. As you can see from the chart, the Green Acres phenomenon continues unabated, with Americans at least imagining they’d like to leave behind the urban (and even the suburban) hurly-burly.

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Mixed Blessings
All Hail the Workers, Meet ‘the Sandusky,’ Post That Rƒsumƒ, Etc.
As labor and management scurry to define the moral of the UPS strike, might there be a message for the ad biz as well? Post-strike analysis has emphasized that UPS was caught flat-footed by polls showing public opinion overwhelmingly in favor of the strikers, even though the Teamsters union isn’t the most warm and cuddly part of organized labor.
Evidently, consumers think more highly of the working stiff than anyone had imagined. Perhaps ads for companies in the service sector should be doing more to tap into that sentiment. They seldom do nowadays. Rather, the predominant theme of ads is something to the effect that “we’ll go to any lengths to please you, which means our employees will work like dogs on your behalf.” But maybe a lot of people don’t want other people to work like dogs on their behalf. Anyhow, don’t be surprised if we start to see more warm-and-runny advertising in which companies laud their employees as nature’s noblemen.
You can’t accuse J. Walter Thompson of forgetting the client’s market by over-thinking its spots for Cedar Point Amusement Parks in Sandusky, Ohio. Created by the agency’s Los Angeles office, the spots are candy, as bright and flimsy as a day spent at an amusement park. In a spot that mimics the manner of a cosmetics commercial, a beautiful woman boasts of a new look she’s adopted, called “the Sandusky”: her hair standing on end after being blown upward during her roller-coaster ride. In another spot, a freaked-out groom grouses that his hairstyle-you guessed it, straight up-will betray the truth about how he and his groomsmen spent his final night of bachelorhood. Wild and crazy guys!

Information is power, but only if people know where to find it. That insight has given rise to a poster series at Lincoln Center. IBM sponsors information kiosks at the New York performing arts center. The effort makes sense: IBM’s corporate image rests on the notion that communication and information can transform people’s lives. But the people most in need of information may not know where the kiosks are. So, the posters (created for IBM by Ogilvy & Mather in New York) helpfully direct info-thirsty theater patrons to them. The first poster, a sublime woodcut by the English artist Andrew Mockett, advertises a key accessory of any New York theater-going experience: parking. “In the ballet, Cinderella arrives late at the ball and must leave early,” the tagline reads. “24-hour parking is available in the Lincoln Center Park & Lock Garage.” And it mentions where the kiosks can be found for those in search of other such practical tips. The silk-screened executions have been placed in Avery Fisher Hall and the tunnel running between Lincoln Center and the subway.

The Internet is getting a workout from the multitude of executives steered to the unemployment line by corporate restructuring, according to a survey by career services firm Lee Hecht Harrison. Consider this fact: 90 percent of the 635 job seekers questioned said they used the Internet in hunting for a new job. Of those, 72 percent said they used the Internet to research firms they might want to work for, compared to 46 percent who said the same in a similar survey last year. And 64 percent went online to search employment listings (as opposed to 54 percent in 1996). Use of the World Wide Web remains principally a passive activity, however. Only 19 percent of survey respondents said they have posted their rƒsumƒs on the Net in the hope of being discovered by future employers, the same proportion who did so last year.

In most months, honors for The Most Uncomfortable Outfit Worn by a Model in an Ad go to the imaginative women’s fashion category. So we must give a special salute to a Wausau Insurance ad (via Cramer-Krasselt in Milwaukee) for copping that award this time. We’ll assume the talent in the photo (and quite a portfolio piece he’s got here!) was fully insured for any risk of suffocation or heat prostration as the shot was taken.

Also no slouch in the discomfort department is the poor fellow in a shampoo ad created by the Ho Chi Minh City outpost of Leo Burnett. While ads in the U.S. tend to depict dandruff mainly as a socially disabling lapse in one’s grooming, the Vietnamese ad takes a more physical tack. Copy asks: “Itchy? Isn’t it time you stopped using soap and started using Rejoice?” And if you didn’t feel itchy before you looked at the ad, you probably do after gaping at it. In the rapid-fire electronic age, are business-to-business Web sites updated every time you blink? Not quite. A study by Cahners finds 27 percent of companies updating their sites daily, but 37 percent do so monthly and 8 percent update annually.

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Oh, The Married Men: That’s Why You Say, ‘For Better, For Worse’
Judge for yourself whether these numbers speak poorly for the American pizza industry or speak well for American marriages: Asked how they’d prefer to spend a Friday evening, 56 percent of married men said they’d take their wives out “for a romantic dinner and dancing,” while 36 percent would stay “home with a pizza and watch the playoffs.” These figures and many more come from a survey of married men conducted for Redbook and summarized in the September issue. We’ll let you buy the magazine for the findings on sexual matters, while we concern ourselves here with more domestic topics. As you can see from the chart, numerous men still resist spousal efforts to drag them deeper into the quagmire of housework. But a near-majority are ready to run up the white dust rag when their wives press them. Elsewhere in the survey, the men were asked whether they’d rather have Mel Gibson’s looks or Donald Trump’s money. By a landslide margin, respondents would take the money (62 percent) over the looks (26 percent). Perhaps most men think they already have Gibson’s looks, while they can’t fail to realize they haven’t got Trump’s money.

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Consumer, Heal Thyself: If Only Those ‘Non-Treaters’ Would Get On The Stick
They may not have gone to med school, but they do make house calls. “Consumers are becoming increasingly confident of their ability to self-medicate through the purchase and use of appropriate over-the-counter medicines,” says a report issued by Euromonitor International in Chicago. Euromonitor sees ample room for growth, even in the “comparatively advanced OTC climate” of the U.S., where self-medication absorbs some 30 percent of total healthcare spending. While people who already dose themselves are open to trying new drugs, the report sees rich potential in reaching the “significant proportion” of the population that neither self-medicates nor sees a doctor when a minor ailment arises. “There is undoubtedly opportunity to convert these ‘non-treaters’ to OTC purchasers, through communicating each product’s features and benefits,” Euromonitor says. Including OTC and prescription drugs, it estimates that worldwide drug sales reached $305 billion last year and it expects that figure to hit $357 billion in 2000 (at constant 1996 manufacturers’ prices).

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it flies: Out-of-Home, Out-of-Home on the Range
If air-traffic controllers were guarding against commercial clutter in all media, perhaps consumers would like advertising better. An online poll conducted by BBDO via its TechSetter Hotline finds 62 percent of respondents agreeing that signs pulled across the sky by propeller planes are a fun form of out-of-home advertising. One suspects that the rarity of such advertising, relatively speaking, has much to do with its appeal. A mere 6 percent of respondents condemned airborne banners as “noise/air pollution.” Actually, when participants were asked which form of out-of-home advertising they like best, aerial signs and blimps (chosen by 15 percent) ran second to highway and street billboards (18 percent). But billboards also topped the standings when people were asked which out-of-home medium they like least, cited by 24 percent. Meanwhile, 35 percent said they’ve called a phone number they’ve seen in an out-of-home ad, while 62 percent said they’ve never done so and 2 percent can’t recall ever seeing a number listed in such ads.