LOVE OF LABOR: When Job Satisfaction Verges on Job Euphoria
All right, so they’re not literally whistling while they work. But American workers are all but giddy in their feelings about their jobs, judging by a Gallup survey conducted for Inc. magazine. Asked to rate their job satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 meaning “extremely satisfied,” 72 percent of respondents gave themselves a 4 or 5. An even higher 82 percent said their jobs give them “the opportunity to do what they do best every day.” (Apparently, a few of them don’t enjoy doing what they do best.) Asked whether their opinions are taken seriously on the job, 84 percent answered “yes.” They don’t even think the boss is a nitwit: 39 percent said the boss is smarter than they are, versus just 11 percent saying he or she is less intelligent. On the make-or-break issue of money, 74 percent of respondents said they’re fairly paid. And it’s not as though satisfaction on the job comes at the expense of home and hearth. While 21 percent said work has worsened their home life, 41 percent said the job has improved it. Of course, this chorus of satisfaction must be galling for the minority of workers who don’t share in it. They’ll feel all the more alienated now that so few of their fellow wage slaves are ready to join them in a rousing chorus of “Take This Job and Shove It.”

EITHER ONE WORKS: The Good and the Bad
How can economists say inflation is in check when $40 million can’t buy a gubernatorial nomination? As pundits sorted out the meaning of mogul Al Checchi’s poor showing in California’s Democratic primary, San Francisco agency Katsin/Loeb lost no time in publicizing its opinion. Alert readers will note the poster’s alteration of an adage that says nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising. The old theory was that good ads prompt scads of people to try a product and discover its awfulness for themselves. Makes sense. But we’ll accept it as a tribute to advertising’s versatility that bad and good ads alike can lead the client to ruin.

LONG GONE: Flocking to the Polls To Pick Favorite Flicks
With more and more entertainment news displacing political news in the media, people probably have stronger views about movies than they do about candidates for the next presidential election. A poll by USA Weekend gave readers a chance to vent their cinematic thoughts, and 54,234 of them grabbed the chance–about 54,000 more, one suspects, than would have taken the trouble to volunteer their opinions on Nafta or Bosnia. Asked to pick the best movie of all time, 46 percent chose Gone With the Wind–giving it as many votes as the next three choices combined. (Those were Titanic, Casablanca and The Godfather.) Cutting to the chase, 44 percent called Raiders of the Lost Ark the most exciting action-adventure movie ever made. And the creepiest movie of all time? No, not Pauly Shore’s latest. It’s Silence of the Lambs, with The Exorcist a spooky second. Psycho far outpaced The Birds and Rear
Window as the scariest Hitchcock film. Finally, you think you know people’s choice for “most quotable line” in a movie? Go ahead, make my day. The winner is: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” (35 percent), with “Go ahead ” the runner-up (16 percent).

NEWS VS. MEDIA: Inverse Relationship Of the Week
Amid a proliferation of news media, one might suppose that public interest in the news is increasing. And a study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press does indeed find rising interest in new information sources, particularly on the part of younger Americans. But a breakdown of the data by age group suggests an anomaly: The cohort that gets the most satisfaction from having a smorgasbord of media choices is also the group least likely to show strong interest in the news itself. As you can see from the chart, pleasure in having “so many” sources of information tracks steadily downward as one ascends the age scale, even while a desire to be well-informed tracks steadily upward. It’s as though the people who most enjoy going to restaurants were the ones least keen on eating. Perhaps Americans feel the news has grown less interesting in the post-Cold War era, even as the means of accessing it have grown more intriguing in their own right. Anyway, another part of the study reports that usage of the Internet as a source of news is “growing at an astonishing rate,” with nearly one-third of respondents in the youngest cohort saying they go online to get news at least once a week. Can it be that the process of finding news on the Net yields a pleasure that’s distinct from knowing the news?

HOME AND ELSEWHERE: Motherhood Quantified
Looking at media coverage that contrasts stay-at-home mothers with their counterparts in the paid workforce, one might wonder at times if the two sorts of mothers are distinct species. A report by the Whirlpool Foundation, based on survey data collected by Roper Starch, is at pains to debunk that notion. As you can see from the chart at left, the two kinds of mothers have plenty in common when asked to express their hopes for their own futures. They also share a satisfaction with the lives they’ve made for themselves so far, with 90 percent of each group subscribing to the statement, “Most of the time, I’m very happy with the choices I’ve made in my life.” In part, these similarities reflect the fact that the two cohorts are divided as much by temporary circumstance as by fixed temperament. The report points out that 59 percent of current stay-at-home mothers have been working mothers at some point in the past, and 48 percent are likely to be out in the workforce in the future. Still, portions of the data do point to untrivial differences in attitudes between the two groups. As the chart above indicates, paid employment exerts an emotional pull for many workforce mothers that has nothing to do with economic necessity. Elsewhere in the report, 40 percent of employed mothers confess, “I often think of work as a refuge away from all the demands of my home and family.” As well they might. We’ll pass along other tidbits from this report in weeks to come.

MIXED BLESSINGS: 10:10 in Geneva, Carrot and Schtick, Chili Withdrawal, Etc.
Let’s say you’re a senior executive whose experience, expertise and industry knowledge are nothing special. Does this leave you with poor prospects in the job market? Probably so. But you can take solace in a study showing that executives hired mainly on the basis of these attributes often don’t pan out. At the senior level, such an emphasis can lead to a mismatch between the person and the company, says the Hagberg Consulting Group of Foster City, Calif. What counts most is a good fit between the new hire and the company’s culture. Next in importance is compatibility with the person’s new boss.

Which came first–the topiary egg or the topiary bird? A stylish ad for Baume & Mercier (via agency Ateliers ABC in Paris) offers a hint by assigning the terms “Life” and Lifestyle” to a pair of potted trees. Given how pretentious ads in this category tend to be, even an unsuccessful attempt at genial humor would rate applause. This ad fares better than that, combining visual interest and offbeat wit to give the brand a distinct identity. Lest anyone think the ad is too untraditional, note that the watch face shows 10:10–the invariable time in watch ads.

You expect a Swiss watch to be built like a Swiss watch, as the saying goes. But a bag of baby carrots? An ad for Foxy carrots says the company “has enlisted the finest craftsmen in the world to create an unparalleled baby carrot.” If nothing else, the industrial approach makes a nice a change from the blather about nature one usually finds in ads for fresh vegetables. Cornyn + Partners of San Francisco created the piece.

Sure, Godzilla is having his troubles at the box office. But that doesn’t mean Americans have turned their backs on monsters. They just want the creatures to have some personality. The one-eyed, big-horned star of a Kimberly-Clark ad meets that requirement. Evidently the client’s low-lint wipes for lab instruments won’t fool a technician into seeing a cyclops that isn’t there–a product benefit if ever there was one. Howard, Merrell & Partners of Raleigh, N.C., created this monster.

As the whistle blows to signal a break, two factory workers meet in a secluded room. Worker 1: “I’ve been craving this for an hour.” Worker 2: “Yeah, me too.” Obviously, something fishy is up–an impression heightened when W2 asks W1, “Hey, does your wife bug you to quit?” W1 replies, “Yeah, but I started when I was 14.” At this point, the camera pulls back to show this addict with a bowl of chili in front of his face. “Nine-bowl-a-day habit.” When W2 says he’s down to just three a day, an envious W1 asks, “How’d you do it?” Looking around to make sure no one else can see, W2 rolls up his sleeve to reveal a package of Williams Original Chili Seasoning affixed to his arm. “I got the patch.” It’s not the first spot to play off the nicotine patch, but it does the job with great gusto. NKH&W of Kansas City, Mo., is the agency.