Uninspired by the Olympics, Meat-Market Politesse, Etc. takes

Sounds like an opportunity for marketers of rods—the kind parents have been sparing since the heyday of Dr. Spock. As reported in Newsweek, a new survey by DYG finds spanking is back in favor. Among parents of children under age 7, 61 percent said spanking is appropriate as a “regular form of discipline.” One-third of parents think spanking “helps children develop a better sense of self-control.” What it does for the parents’ sense of self-control is another matter. The article notes that professional pediatric opinion is in the anti-spanking camp. So, are parents now more willing to rebel against expert opinion than has been the case in the past few decades?

And now, a rousing chorus of “I’m dreaming of a wireless Christmas.” Noting the boom in sales of wireless phones and personal digital assistants, a report from NPD Intellect forecasts that wireless input devices could prove popular holiday gifts. Already, retail sales of wireless mice and keyboards have surged, with unit sales in August 2000 more than doubling the August 1999 figures.

It’s not often an ad describes a cute dog as a “deadbeat dad.” All the more reason, then, that a campaign urging Utahans to have their pets spayed or neutered will grab attention. Anyway, how sorry can you feel for a father who admits he never gave “so much as a bone” to his offspring? R&R Partners of Las Vegas sired the campaign.

Sportscasters love to tell us how inspirational the Olympic Games are. But did the spectacle of athletic excellence inspire people in any practical way? An online poll by Prevention magazine elicited a mixed verdict in asking its fitness-conscious audience: Have the Olympics inspired you to increase the frequency, intensity or duration of your workouts? By nearly a two-to-one margin (66 percent versus 34 percent), respondents answered “no.” In the absence of statistical evidence one way or another, we’ll assume athletic types weren’t inspired to increase their use of performance-enhancing drugs.

There’s an odd corollary to the globalization of the U.S. economy: Americans have seldom displayed less interest in events beyond our borders. Thus, a pro bono campaign for Doctors Without Borders has its work cut out for it in drawing visitors to a traveling exhibit about the world’s 39 million refugees and displaced persons. As in the ad below, the campaign skips the standard pictures of wretched foreigners and instead makes readers imagine how modern conflict might turn their own lives inside out. TBWA\Chiat\Day of New York created the series.

This just in from the United Soybean Board: A study by the trade group finds Americans are more soy-conscious with each passing day. “Seventy-six percent of American consumers consider soy products to be healthy, up from 71 percent last year.” And 39 percent associate soy with specific health benefits relating to cholesterol, high fiber and relief of menopausal symptoms. The top soy products in consumer awareness are tofu, veggie burgers and soy beverages. (For old-bad-movie buffs in our audience, “soylent green” didn’t make the list.)

Didn’t go into work last weekend? Your peers might feel you were slacking off. In a poll by The Creative Group, a staffing service based in Menlo Park, Calif., 25 percent of agency executives claimed to work at least three weekends a month. That includes the 13 percent who toil every weekend. A plurality of respondents (42 percent) put themselves in the once-a-month category. Just 5 percent never work on weekends.

Since boasting is discourteous, it’s tricky for an ad to boast about courteous service. Point-of-sale posters for a Wisconsin butcher shop work around the problem by pretending its proprietor is polite to the animals with whom he deals. Another ad in the series has the catchy headline, “Pardon me, Bessy. Whack!” Peterson Milla Hooks of Minneapolis devised the courtly series.

Few people would argue that you can be too rich, but there’s been greater willingness in recent years to say you can be too thin. The attack on ultra-skinniness has gone hand in hand with a movement to remove the stigma from corpulence. It’s a sign of how far the pendulum has swung that Glamour this month editorializes against the fat-is-fine credo. Without defending excessive skinniness, the magazine insists “Americans need to stop celebrating fat and start dropping pounds.” Noting that a “pronounced anti-diet backlash has emerged in America,” the editorial says “fat activists are ignoring a simple fact: Skeleton chic is unhealthy, but the supersize alternative is even worse.” The bottom line: “Excessive weight kills about 300,000 people a year.” Time will tell whether the impassioned essay is the leading edge of a backlash against the new pro-fat dogma.