Today’s Confidence Gap, Generosity Quantified, Etc.

Consumer confidence has revived, but some consumers are more confident than others. That’s clear from a Gallup poll conducted earlier this month. Overall, 53 percent of adults said the economy is getting better and 37 percent said it’s getting worse. Those totals conceal a sizable gender gap, though. Men split their vote 62 percent “better” vs. 28 percent “worse”; the women’s tally was 44 percent “better” vs. 46 percent “worse.” Race was also a dividing line. The response among whites was 55 percent “better” vs. 35 percent “worse,” while nonwhites voted 47 percent “better” vs. 45 percent “worse.”

This week’s Don’t-Try-This-at-Home Award goes to a spot for Zebco’s Rhino brand fishing line. A fellow seen shaving with a massive hunting knife is designated as “Tough”; a guy who lathers up and then leans his face into the whirling propeller of his boat’s outboard motor is “Rhino tough.” Of course, someone who does neither of these things but instead creates a commercial around them is the most likely to enjoy a long and happy life of fishing. Gabriel deGrood Bendt is the agency behind the spot.

It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but they hate it. At any rate, about one-third of American adults seem to do so. Noting that it’s now 50 years since the first rock concert, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked people if they think rock music “has generally had a positive impact or a negative impact on American society, culture and values.” In results summarized on the PollingReport Web site, “positive” beat “negative” by a lackluster 41 percent to 34 percent, while 17 percent said rock’s legacy is “mixed.”

No wonder telecommunications companies have become tight-fisted. A report by the Census Bureau says their capital spending climbed 34 percent in 2000, after rising 27 percent in 1999. Capital outlays in 2000 rose even more steeply (by 77 percent) among wireless carriers. If you want to help them recoup this investment, phone a friend and have a nice, long chat about the data.

In a culture that exalts youth, even antiques need to show the sap is still flowing. Indeed, since the people who can afford expensive antique furniture tend to be fairly antique themselves, an ad will gain a receptive audience by displaying unexpected signs of life in something old. Give credit to Eisner Communications of Baltimore for doing so in its vernal ad for Gaines McHale.

Americans were generous in 2001—or, at least, claim they were. In a nationwide poll by Barna Research, 80 percent of adults said they gave money to one or more non-profit organizations last year. That’s up slightly from the 78 percent doing so in 2000, though down a little from the 84 percent who gave during 1999. The median total of donations per capita for 2001 was $1,097, while the mean was $300. Churches were the chief beneficiaries of Americans’ largesse.