QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Do You Feel You Watch Too Much Television?
People are forever moaning about how little free time they have. And when pollsters give them a chance to vent their opinions about the quality of TV shows, they ooze scorn from every pore. Yet, they spend the equivalent of a couple solid months each year staring at the tube. Putting all these facts together, you might suppose people regret this allocation of their precious time. But most do not. In a nationwide survey conducted for Adweek, just
28 percent of respondents answered 'yes' when asked whether they feel they watch too much TV--up somewhat from the 24.5 percent who said so when we posed this question last year. Male respondents accounted for the increase, with their 'yes' quotient jumping from 23 percent last year to 31 percent this time around. Among women, the 'yes' count was down one notch, to 25 percent this year. In a breakdown of the data by age group, 35-44-year-olds (34 percent) were the likeliest to regret the amount of tube time they spend while 25-34-year-olds (19 percent) were the least likely.
And Fabian's Real Name Was H.G. Wells
Cultural literacy may be a dead letter, but countercultural literacy is high. In a 'rock 'n' roll literacy test' conducted on line by Details magazine, 93 percent of 18-34-year-olds knew Devo was the band that sang 'Whip It'--as did a more-than-respectable 41 percent of those under 18. (The test was multiple choice, naturally.) Revealing a sharper generation gap, 87 percent of those under age 18 knew Gwen Stefani is the lead singer of No Doubt, while only 33 percent of the 35-49-year-olds did.
Two-thirds of the under-18s thought Ken Kesey was in the Grateful Dead--not correct, of course, but not a bad guess. There was one instance in which cultural illiteracy and countercultural illiteracy fused together: Although 85 percent of participants age 35-49 knew Bob Dylan's original name was Robert Zimmerman, 30 percent of those under 18 thought the name on his birth certificate was Dylan Thomas.
What the Experts Think We'll Want to Eat
Unless gastronomically intelligent life is discovered on another planet, our yen for exotic cuisines will soon exhaust all the earthly options. It's not uncommon now to hear people discourse knowingly about appetizers from countries they couldn't find on a globe if their lives depended on it. So, what's the next hot dish? To get a handle on that one, Food & Wine recently commissioned Louis Harris & Associates to poll the chefs at leading restaurants around the U.S. As you can see from the chart below, the food scene has become so varied and unpredictable that no one prospect could command even one-quarter of the vote, and the top three choices combined don't quite add up to 50 percent of the tally. Perhaps some chefs were reticent about proposing their favorite undiscovered cuisines, on the theory that a watched trend never heats up. In another section of the survey, chefs were asked what their destination would be if they could 'escape for a year and go anywhere in the world to explore local cuisine.' Asia was the winner, selected by 33 percent, with traditional faves Italy (24 percent) and France (18 percent) lagging behind. Food marketers will no doubt be watching as these preferences trickle down from haute cuisine to mass taste.
Marching in the Vanguard of the Fashion Parade
Not only has he led IBM back from the brink (at least for the time being). Lou Gerstner has become one of 'The 55 People Most Influential on Fashion.' By today's standards, that makes him a veritable renaissance man. The list of fashion leaders was promulgated by Sportswear International, a magazine for the fashion trade. Demonstrating that death is no impediment to fashion leadership, Kurt Cobain and Notorious B.I.G. both appear on the list. And while he's most often seen in baggy shorts and a sweat-soaked shirt, Michael Jordan also makes the magazine's lineup of fashion plates. Famous designers like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Todd Oldham make the cut, as do model Kate Moss and photographer Steven Meisel. RuPaul is prominent on the list of influentials, and it's little wonder. After all, he/she has twice the opportunities most of us do.
Measuring the Generation Gap in the New Asia
Against a backdrop of unprecedented prosperity, have young people in Asia become a disaffected Generation X? A study by Ogilvy & Mather finds little evidence to support that notion. Although 'more independent than their parents' generation,' Asians in their 20s are 'far more conservative and community-oriented than is often recognized,' says Miles Young, president of O&M Asia Pacific in Hong Kong. As the chart suggests, they hold different views than their elders without having deliberately spurned traditional attitudes. The 20-29 group is more likely than the 45-54 cohort to agree that it's fun 'to go over the top once in a while'
(58 percent versus 48 percent), but young people in any society are more likely than older folks to feel that way. From an American perspective, it's a shock to find majorities of both age groups agreeing that 'Young people should never dare challenge their parents' authority.' But Westerners are apt to have an exaggerated view of how set in their ways the older Asian generation is. While it's no surprise that 63 percent of the younger respondents 'would consider emigrating to the West for a period of time if the opportunity arose,' a remarkable 44 percent of the older cohort give that answer, too.
Ironists in Bikinis, Fourth-Place Integrity, The Age of Mother, Etc.
You can take the bikini babes out of the beer commercials, but you can't keep 'em out indefinitely. TV viewers will recall the Great Purge of the early '90s, when beer marketers largely abandoned their use of female flesh in advertising. The Swedish Bikini Team was expunged from the airwaves faster than you could say 'lawsuit'--well, almost as fast--and so was the rest of its pulchritudinous ilk. In the intervening years, beer advertising has yielded a case study in what happens when a category jettisons its reigning cliche and seeks new ideas. And the answer is: It gets worse. On the whole, beer spots have been dopier without beach belles than they were with them as advertisers struggle to cut through the clutter without an assist from male viewers' libidos. So let's give a hearty welcome to model Rebecca Romijn, who stars in new Miller spots promoting the brand's tie-in with Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. (Three sweepstakes winners get a trip to hang out at SI's next shoot.) Though Romijn exhibits her excellent body from every angle, the spots (by Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis) differ from the old genre by adding a thick layer of irony. Romijn is in on the joke, we're assured, and the display of her skin is just a setup for the display of her deadpan wit. Well, fine! But male viewers must hold up their end of this charade: Instead of leering at Romijn, they must laugh uproariously so it's clear they're enjoying her as a humorist and not (repeat, not) as a sex object. Otherwise, the thought police will banish this sort of commercial from public view, too, and where will that leave us?
Many an advertiser has a legacy of ugly ads, but few have the wit to treat it as an asset. So here's a tip of our battered fedora to Wauwatosa Realty for doing so. 'Oh to be sure, in their day, our advertisements looked pretty spiffy,' begins copy in an antique-looking ad. 'For you see, the origins of Wauwatosa Realty date back to 1946'--more than can be said by its Johnny-come-lately competitors. Milwaukee's Meyer & Wallis created the advertisement.
Nostalgia for the '60s is usually lavished on that decade's counterculture. But if you're in the knickknack business, there's a sound bottom-line reason for celebrating the power structure and its paraphernalia. 'Guess the establishment of the '60s weren't complete losers,' says the copy in an ad (via Boston's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos) for a local retailer of vintage oddments. 'And we've got all their stuff.' Amid all the pieties filling the air these days about drinking, it's a refreshing shock to see a little impiety on the subject.
True or false: Integrity is the quality that bosses value most highly in their subordinates. If you answered 'true,' you're mistaken--or maybe you're just lying! In either case, a new survey of corporate chief executive officers finds that integrity ranks fourth in the current hierarchy of underling virtues, behind loyalty, a sense of humor and a capacity for hard work. The intriguing research was conducted by Goodrich and Sherwood Associates, a human-resources consulting firm based in New York.
What counts more in a mother: youthful stamina or mature wisdom? A poll by Glamour finds its readers opting for the energy of youth. Asked to identify the 'ideal time' to become a mother, 59 percent said it's between ages 25 and 29 while 31 percent preferred 30-34,
7 percent chose 20-24 and 3 percent picked 35 and older. Asked to identify 'the most important factor to consider when deciding to have a baby,' a mere 2 percent cited 'the effect on your career,' versus 39 percent pointing to 'the stability of your relationship' and 37 percent citing 'economic security.'
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED