a long way, indeed: Are Brands Carrying Excess Feminist Baggage?
Ever since Virginia Slims told women, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” brands have sought to brighten their images with a feminist veneer. In current ads for products ranging from sneakers to cosmetics, a vaguely politicized rhetoric of empowerment is standard equipment. But are female consumers in the market for that sort of imagery? A Time/CNN poll of women, presented as part of a Time story on the status of feminism, found 48 percent of women answering “yes” when asked, “Is feminism today relevant to most women?” Even among self-described feminists, the “yes” tally was a less-than-overwhelming 64 percent. And do women have a favorable or unfavorable impression of feminists? By a margin of 43 percent to 32 percent, “unfavorable” carried the day. It’s not as if women reject such principles as equal pay for equal work. In the realm of image, though, the movement has acquired more baggage than it can gracefully carry. If feminism were a consumer brand, you’d say it’s suffering the effects of too many line extensions. As they pore over the data in Time’s article, marketers may wonder whether a feminist gloss is more trouble than it’s worth to their brands.
more or less: Eat, Drink, Keep Track
Here’s a pair of numbers that will keep soft-drink marketers awake at night: 17 percent of 18-24-year-olds say they’re consuming more soda than they did a year ago, but 16 percent say they’re drinking less of the stuff. Anyway, those are among the findings of a study by The Zandl Group of New York. The numbers showed far less volatility in consumption of tea and coffee (3 percent drinking more, 1 percent drinking less), sweets (3 percent, more; 5 percent, less) and milk (4 percent, more; 1 percent, less). Meat was among the few food categories in which people eating less outnumbered those eating more (4 percent, more; 8 percent, less). Fruits and vegetables saw a healthy increase, with 11 percent consuming more and 3 percent eating less. Just to show that an item can surge ahead without the benefit of ads, 11 percent said they’re drinking more water, while 2 percent said they’re drinking less.
MIXED BLESSINGS: Seeds of Dissension, Lost and Found in Space, Itinerant Clip Artist, Etc.
As if they weren’t having enough trouble already, the Baltimore Orioles now find their most popular player the butt of a joke about smoked pork chops. It’s been that kind of year for the lavishly paid but otherwise hapless team, which went into the All Star break just a few games ahead of the league’s latest expansion team. Minneapolis agency Gabriel Diericks Razidlo created the ad for a local German restaurant. Perhaps the place has an iron-man waiter who has served dinner on 3,000 consecutive evenings. If so, he’s likely to be having more fun these days than Cal Ripken Jr., whose own consecutive-game streak must seem like more and more of a chore.
Something tells me the folks at Anheuser-Busch won’t be amused by an ad for Hemp Beer, a brew whose claim to fame is that it’s brewed with hemp seeds. Under the circumstances, you can forgive them for thinking that a play on High Life would have been at least as suitable as an allusion to Budweiser’s slogan. Another ad in the Hemp Beer series offers this unique selling proposition for the product: “Undetectable to police dogs.” But the best part of the campaign is the motto set in small type at the bottom of each ad: “Brewed in Kentucky. Legal in all 50 states.” Enough said. Ketchum Advertising of Pittsburgh created the series for Lexington Brewing Co., based in Lexington, Ky.
Factoid of the Week: A reader poll by Weight Watchers magazine finds 24 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement, “Chocolate gives me super-hero strength.” And who’s to say they’re wrong?
It’s a problem we’ve all faced: You’re going to Europe for your summer vacation and you dread the inevitable moment when the locals berate you about how much more sophisticated they are than you and your American compatriots. Well, just take along this nugget of information as a riposte for such occasions. A study by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research says Europeans will continue to be rubes when it comes to cyberspace. By 2001, the report forecasts, some 53 million Europeans will be cruising the Internet, while 98 million Americans will be doing so. Sophistication indeed! As for Internet commerce, Forrester sees it amounting to a piddling $64 billion in Europe in 2001, versus a robust (but not crude) $206 billion in the U.S. Those figures translate to 0.9 percent of gross domestic product for Europe, versus 2.7 percent of GDP for the U.S.
Here on the home front, a gender gap persists in the use of the Internet as a venue for shopping. But it’s not because women are averse to roaming through the commercial byways of cyberspace. A Yankelovich Partners survey, conducted among current Internet users, finds that 69 percent of the women window shop at commercial Web sites–a proportion just slightly lower than the 73 percent of men who do likewise. The crucial difference comes in willingness to plunk down money and buy something. While 32 percent of the men surveyed said they’ve made an online purchase in the past year, only 19 percent of the women said the same. The reason, according to Yankelovich, is that women are more worried than men that their credit-card number will be filched if they use them for online transactions. Thus, 70 percent of the women surveyed said that more regulation and policing of the Internet is needed, while just 45 percent of the men subscribed to that opinion.
And speaking of life (intelligent or otherwise) in unearthly realms, the Seattle office of Bozell Worldwide had some memorable fun with a new campaign for an exhibit at the local Pacific Science Center, titled “Aliens: Worlds of Possibilities.” The urgent headline on another ad in the series: “Hurry. Before it’s covered up.” Yet another headline counseled, “Lock up your cattle.” Of course, that’s always good advice.
Honors for Oddball Client of the Week go to a campaign on behalf of Holly Markovich, Mobile Hairstylist. Cramer-Krasselt of Chicago went to town with the concept. One of the more circumspect ads in the series offers this come-on: “A tall brunette walks into your office and closes the door. 20 minutes later you come out looking like a new man.” And the campaign’s gamiest ad: “For $35 I’ll do you right behind your desk.”
kids at large: How I Wish I’d Spent My Summer Vacation
What do Bill and Hillary have in common with Homer and Marge? Any number of things, probably. Narrowing matters down, though, a poll of 8-12-year-olds put the Clintons and the Simpsons in a third-place tie when kids were asked which of several sets of famous parents they’d most like to tag along with on vacation. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett were the top choice, followed by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The not-at-all-scientific research was conducted by Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks among kids visiting SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
By their own account, the young folks have considerable say in the choice of destination for their family vacations. Thirty percent of the kids said their wishes have “a lot” of influence, and another 37 percent rated their views as “somewhat” influential. Only 12 percent said their opinions count “not at all.”
And what sorts of vacations do they most covet? Until some studio casts Leonardo DiCaprio in a film about a doomed Everest expedition, a voyage to the Titanic’s wreckage ranks atop the roster of “adventure” vacations (see chart). Evidently, Hollywood exerts a stronger pull than Cape Canaveral does. Given a chance to pick the “coolest” vacation spot in the U.S., kids favored Hawaii (cited by 38 percent of them) over Orlando, Fla. (20 percent), Las Vegas
(19 percent), New York (11 percent) and Washington, D.C. (8 percent).
But it’s not as if you can’t have fun in your own back yard–as long as that yard is properly equipped. Asked to pick the item they’d most like to have out back, kids opted for a roller coaster (49 percent) over a stable of horses and riding ring (21 percent), a jet-fighter simulator (12 percent), a theater that plays their favorite movies (10 percent) and an aquarium filled with live fish from the ocean (7 percent).
mixed smoke signals: As If Teenagers Weren’t Already Mixed Up
Theory 1: Teenagers are capable of resisting the pressures that push them toward smoking. Theory 2: Teens are helpless pawns of cigarette ads. A new TV spot in Arizona’s campaign against teen smoking (via Riester-Robb of Phoenix) puts Theory 1 to work as kids say, “I decide.” Viewers will take the point that even the “at-risk” teens on screen can summon the will to resist cigarette ads. But after the tobacco bill’s recent defeat in Congress, its proponents were proclaiming in every newscast that thousands of kids had been doomed to early graves. Well, either kids have free will or they don’t. Such political pronouncements can’t help but undercut efforts aimed at empowering teens to shun cigarettes.
back to life? Adding Up Adweek’s Classified Ads for Jobs
After a sluggish May, the market for jobs in advertising, marketing and media showed signs of life in June, judging by the volume of help-wanted ads in Adweek. Actually, the growth in new jobs has slackened, compared with the pace of the past few years. But companies have been taking bigger, multi-region, multi-week ads to reach good candidates in a labor market that’s been pretty well picked over.
got my modem workin’: Faster Than a Bread Box?
Do you know how fast your modem is? If so, we invite you to feel superior to the 40 percent of home-PC owners who were stumped when asked that question by CDB Research & Consulting of Irvine, Calif. The same report says PCs, cellular phones, black-and-white printers and modems are the tools of office technology most often found in people’s homes these days. Noting the widespread adoption of cellular phones for nonbusiness use, the report says they are now more popular among people who don’t have a home office than among those who do. On the gender-and-technology front, the study finds that men are more likely to have CD-ROM drives and modems, while women are more likely to have cellular phones and beepers
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