QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Do You Believe the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth?
With people getting and spending like there's no tomorrow, it's hard to imagine many of them heeding the biblical doctrine that the meek will have their day. If meekness is such hot stuff, shouldn't titles like Achieve Turbo-Meekness Today! be crowding the best-seller list? People are full of surprises, though, and a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek by Alden & Associates finds a narrow majority of Americans saying they do believe the meek shall inherit the earth. Specifically, the Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based marketing research firm found 52 percent of respondents holding that view--a figure consistent with our findings in previous polling on this topic. Women (60 percent) were considerably more likely than men (39 percent) to answer in the affirmative. There was also some regional variation, with the Northeast playing true to form in displaying the least faith in prospects for the meek (37 percent). Respondents in the South, where the gospel is more apt to be taken as gospel, had the highest "yes" tally (62 percent). A breakdown by income suggests there's an element of wishful thinking in some folks' answers. At any rate, among respondents with household income under $30,000, 65 percent professed to believe the meek will come out on top. And, lo and behold, the "yes" vote tumbled to 39 percent among those whose household income is $75,000 and up.
consumer hubris odds for the meek were looking better last summer when the Dow was sinking toward 7000.
TAR? WHAT TAR? Too-Positive Thinking
Never underestimate people's ability to disbelieve unwelcome news. It's the quality that enables them to strive for great things even as they draw closer to inevitable death. For the do-gooders who hope to talk people out of their self-destructive habits, though, it's a problem. The chart here summarizes research published earlier this month in The Journal of the American Medical Association. One can infer that anti-cigarette ads have their hands full addressing smokers who don't believe tobacco is dangerous. (The study defined "heavy smokers" as those going through two packs or more per day.) And one suspects a similar pattern could be found among people who eat high-fat foods while driving drunk to assignations where they'll have unsafe sex.
MIXED BLESSINGS: Our Cinematic Illiteracy, A Decade of Wonders, Shakespeare in Glove, Etc.
We know that Hollywood movies exert great influence on everything else. But they must do it through some sort of pop-culture osmosis. A pre-Oscar national poll by the Los Angeles Times found just 1 percent of people saying they had seen all five of the Best Picture nominees. And, more telling still, 61 percent hadn't seen a single one of those flicks.
So much for the vegetarian-biker market. An ad for Buell Motorcycle gives a twist to the category's macho motif. "Carnivores, take heart," says the copy as it plays the beef theme for all it's worth. Where other ads might settle for a few similes, this one (by Laughlin/Constable of Milwaukee) states the bike's $8,599 price in meat-market terms: "At only $17.99/lb., why settle for ground round when you can sink your teeth into something choice?"
In the age of multitasking, we needn't be surprised when 34 percent of 16-35-year-olds say they've changed their clothes in a car while stuck in traffic. An item in Family Circle also says 46 percent of women (and 4 percent of men!) have used such time to put on makeup. And those who fear the U.S. is becoming an aliterate society will be heartened to learn that 42 percent of people have read their mail or even a book while waiting for traffic to unjam.
The decade of the Internet? Sure, that's the way some techno-sissies think of the '90s. And it is the choice 42 percent of respondents made in a CNN/Time survey asking them to pick the phenomenon that best represents the decade. Let us tip our hats, though, to the 2 percent who bravely told Yankelovich pollsters the Wonderbra is the icon of the '90s. Among other choices: the Persian Gulf war (25 percent), cell phones (8 percent) and sport utility vehicles (also 8 percent).
You know the '90s mania for Shakespeare is still gaining momentum when it spreads from Hollywood to big-league baseball. In a new spot for the Seattle Mariners (via Copacino of that city), we watch a Red Sox runner leading off second base. Mariner shortstop Alex Rodriguez sidles over and pulls a volume of Shakespeare from his pocket. "Hey, have you ever read the Merchant of Venice?" And he begins reading: "The quality of mercy is not strained / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven / Upon the place beneath." As the runner gets a dreamy look on his face and murmurs, "That's pretty," the pitcher wheels around and fires a pick-off throw to Rodriguez, who applies the tag. Cut to the Mariners' dugout, where a coach nods in approval. "The hidden Shakespeare trick," he says, to which another coach responds: "Works every time." Why does the spot use this particular speech from the bard's oeuvre? Perhaps its mention of precipitation is a subtle reminder that the Mariners will soon be moving out of the claustrophobic dome in which they've played for years--a place whose field has never been touched by the gentle rain. Indeed, with a small orthographic adjustment, another line of Shakespeare (from Richard III) could aptly describe the Mariners' current home park: "The Kingdome of perpetual night."