Clinging to a Belief That What’s Big Must Be Bad
Though most Americans never bought the idea that small is beautiful, they’re keen on a corollary notion: Big is ugly. Antipathy toward huge corporations and vastly wealthy moguls has a rich history. The rules of the game are in flux, though. There was once an easy script for people who wished to luxuriate in their moral superiority to real estate barons and Wall Street wheeler-dealers. But success stories of the ’90s are phenomena for which the old populist resentments look obsolete. While it might fit a Donald Trump or an Ivan Boesky, “greed” is an epithet that sounds irrelevant when applied to a world-transforming figure like Bill Gates. Likewise, people who’d have turned their anti-establishment scorn on General Motors in its heyday can’t accuse Nike of imposing a grey-flannel-suit conformity on the world. And for those who take solace in believing the rich are unfailingly vulgar, there’s the dismaying spectacle of Martha Stewart getting wealthy as an apostle of good taste. None of this means resentment of mega-success has abated, or that the post-industrial moguls merit immunity from it. It does mean bigness-bashing looks less like a civic duty and more like a neurotic tick – as when people who once loved Starbucks turn on it for no better reason than that it’s a coast-to-coast hit. The anti-bigs must refine their technique if they want to avoid looking small-minded.
A Little Beaujolais With Your Pigskin?
You’d think all the hotdogging on the field would create a yen for franks among people who watch football on TV. But a survey conducted for Ball Park Franks finds pizza the favorite sustenance. Given the inevitable consequences of eating pizza while one’s eyes are elsewhere, it sounds like heavy-duty detergents should be advertising on NFL telecasts. Perhaps because it’s inconvenient to lug an oven around, pizza falls out of the running when people are asked what foods they like best for their tailgate parties. Burgers (cited by 58 percent) edge out dogs (55 percent) in that venue. Finally, a finding of special interest to the wine trade: A grand total of 0 percent of respondents name wine as the beverage they prefer for washing down a hot dog.
Was That a Wink Or Is Your Eye Sore?
Maybe the typical office isn’t the grim, all-business place it’s made out to be in commercials for computers, phone systems and the like. As you can see from the chart below, there’s plenty of horseplay going on. Among the oddities revealed in a reader poll by Details magazine, 9 percent of respondents believe smiling constitutes flirtation. Whether because of or despite that view, 96 percent say they personally have been known to smile at work. The other 4 percent must be a joy to have around the place, eh? Elsewhere in the poll’s cache of data, 42 percent of the respondents think it’s OK to date customers or clients, with 18 percent saying they’ve done so themselves. As you might expect, flirting with one’s assistants or subordinates (reported by 18 percent of respondents) is a lot more common than flirting with The Boss (to which 9 percent confessed).
A Secondhand Store, Subtle Visual Cues, Three-Legged Races
If consumers recycled their trash as avidly as agency people recycle ideas, the nation wouldn’t be running out of landfill space. A creative concept that has proved its worth in one campaign can look forward to a long and varied life in any number of subsequent ads. The aptly named Swipe, a Toronto bookstore that specializes in advertising, puts that truth to work in clever posters and print ads. Besides the “Got milk?” parody, the series includes a 42-year-old junior art director boasting, “I’ve never been to Swipe” (reprising an ad for The Economist), as well as an admonition to “Think swipe” (beneath the inevitable photo of a vintage Volkswagen Beetle). The Toronto office of TBWA Chiat/Day devised the campaign.
The wages of sin advertising are pretty good, but the work is likely to get more difficult as legislators and regulators target such categories as tobacco and liquor. Agency people in the U.S. will want to learn from what sinful brands have done in countries where the laws are already stricter than our own. In France, liquor ads can’t say anything explicitly nice about liquor. So, ads for Black & White scotch amuse readers by taking liberties with the brand’s label – in each case alluding to a chic Parisian venue (like l’Acad_mie de Billards) where the stuff is served. If American dogs can play poker, as they do in the tableau that has graced many a tavern wall, why shouldn’t Scottish ones shoot some billiards? Leo Burnett’s Paris outpost created the campaign.
Have you lined up your personal psychic yet? For its current issue, Swing magazine asked some professional trend-spotters to divulge their forecasts on what will be hot in the coming year. In the “status symbols” category, the seers saw pipe smoking, monogrammed 9mm Glock pistols, babies(!), gold and personal psychics. Choices for hot film genre ranged from techno-thriller to musical. Hot sports: bowling (regular), bowling (candlepin), Olympic roller skating and three-legged races. And among the jobs with hot growth prospects: “employment counselor for former Web site designers.”
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