THE SOCIABLE SIN: Looking For The Truth About Lying
Does parenthood make you a liar? At the very least, a Family Circle survey on “Honesty in America” indicates that kids provide their parents with temptations for duplicity. For instance, polling of women around the country found 23 percent admitting they’ve lied about their kids’ ages to get them into places for free. Forty percent even suborn perjury, having their offspring get rid of unwanted phone calls by saying that “Mommy’s not at home.” The woman who lived in a shoe must have been fibbing from morning ’til night. It’s not that parenthood is uniquely corrupting, though. Other sections of the survey indicate that marriage and friendship also lead to lying. Only 11 percent of women would answer honestly if a friend asked, “Do you think I’m overweight?” And 53 percent wouldn’t admit to a husband that they’re attracted to another man, even though 63 percent would want to know if the husband were attracted to another woman. Taking in all of the findings, one wonders whether lying correlates as much with connectedness to people as it does with shoddy morals. Building bombs in the solitary remoteness of his cabin, Ted Kaczynski could have gone weeks at a time without telling a lie. Sociable souls are seldom so pure. In the opening of his Politics, Aristotle says the man who can live outside society must be “either a beast or a god.” The same may be true of those who tell no lies.

ON THE WAY OUT: I’ll Just Grab This
We’ve always sensed that Americans are an impulsive people. Now we’ve got the data to prove it. A new survey finds 46 percent of consumers saying they often buy items from the stands located at the grocery checkout – even though 68 percent agree with the complaint, “The checkout counter contains a lot of products I don’t need.” The top sales categories at these “checkstands” (as they’re know to the supermarket cognoscenti) are gum/mints, candy, magazines, soft drinks and cookies. And we’re not talking small change here. In all, items from supermarket checkout areas account for more than $5 billion in yearly retail sales. Conducted for M&M/Mars and Time Distribution Services by consulting firm Dechert-Hampe & Co., the study also finds that younger shoppers with lower income and education levels tend to be especially vulnerable to the lure of the checkstand.

MIXED BLESSINGS: Abortion Revisited, Gendered Software, Etc.
As if the abortion debate weren’t turbid enough, I managed to muddy the waters further with a recent Takes item about a commercial from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. It turns out the production company’s pr firm had mistakenly sent me the director’s cut of Naral’s spot, not the for-air version. After the article ran, I was alerted to the mixup and sent a tape of the real thing. The final spot does differ in some key details. Most notably, it includes shots of a woman on an examining table, while the other was studiously unclinical. Like the director’s version, though, the real one forbears to say “abortion” – a silence I still find jarring. In an interview, Naral president Kate Michelman said the spot didn’t use that word because it has a broader mission: “The ad is not about abortion. The ad is about choice” – whether of birth control, fertility treatment or anything relating to women’s “reproductive destiny.” Thus, film of a mother helping her daughter learn to ride a bike (absent from the director’s cut) is meant to be emblematic of women who choose to have kids when they feel ready. Will viewers take in this wider range of concerns? I’ve got my doubts. My hunch is that a commercial can’t allude to abortion and clearly convey opinions on anything else. A speech, yes; a commercial, no. In such close quarters, all else becomes obscured by the intense glare of that issue, whether it’s named or unnamed.

Whatever it’s done for science, the MIR space station has been a boon for ads. Clarity Coverdale Fury of Minneapolis gets good mileage out of it in a breakthrough effort for Harmon AutoGlass.
Does software have a gender? Yes: It’s masculine. So we learn from an ad last week in which Bill Gates responded to antitrust suits against Microsoft. The ad says negotiations to avoid a court battle broke down in part because the attorneys general demanded changes that would “emasculate” Windows. So, there you have it.

Not content with boring name tags, Colby Effler & Partners of Santa Monica, Calif., enlivened a party last week with some tailored to the ad biz – like the one above. Another tag read: “HELLO, didn’t I see your book at .”