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at the workplace: Marching into Battle: Parents vs. Non-Parents
Flex scheduling and work-at-home days seem to be a great idea at the office, especially for people with kids. With family emergency time--to tend sick children, attend PTA and soccer games and take school vacations--employees often come and go as they please. It's a bearable life for working parents. But according to a USA Weekend poll, all is not well at work. Child-free employees are beginning to take umbrage:
- Nearly 3 in 4 Americans rate their own workplace as pro-family.
- 4 in 10 working adults say they've heard a co-worker complain about parents getting a break at work with better schedules, responsibilities or expectations.
- 6 in 10 say parents get a better deal when it comes to leaving early.
- 3 in 10 believe it's unfair of employers to offer special benefits, such as scholarships, day care and adoption help, that not all workers can use.
- 1 in 3 Americans have covered for a co-worker who had to leave work to care for a child.
- 1 in 3 say it's a distraction when parents bring their children to work.
Some of the childless even say that a woman's six-week paid maternity leave is inherently unfair--who couldn't use six weeks off? In an election year, politicians are courting soccer moms with tax breaks, new unemployment benefits and pro-family legislation. Plus, President Bill Clinton is proposing legislation that will further protect working parents. Is the resentment bubbling over? Not yet, the survey reports. When childless respondents were asked how they felt about parents getting a better deal at work, 84 percent said they had never gotten angry. But the disparities cut both ways: The poll also shows that people think non-parents have an edge over parents in pay, promotions, workload and plum assignments.

balancing act: All About Our Mothers
It may be the question of our time: Should mothers work or stay at home? Whichever choice they make, all mothers are trying to achieve a balance between work, family life and personal time. A survey commissioned by Redbook and Women.com explores the psychology of motherhood. On the question of balance, 38 percent of at-home mothers felt "frustrated" with their lives, while 31 percent felt "successful." As for working moms, 43 percent expressed frustration, while 32 percent felt successful. And 90 percent of at-home and 61 percent of working mothers say they've willingly made compromises in lifestyle, pay and job status to spend more time with their kids. This begs the question: What do women really want? The ability to work from home; tax incentives (for families with an at-home parent); flexibility in their husbands' work hours; more help from their spouses; and quality, subsidized day care.

mixed blessings: Home Improvement, Darva and Rick, the Greatest Prez, Etc.
This week's best use of lunch in a termite-extermination ad? The prize goes to the folks at Spectrum Brands, whose print campaign for Spectracide Terminate Killing Stakes breaks in select markets this month. It seems Terminate is the world's first "do-it-yourself" termite-killing system, which allows the customer to take "immediate action" against those pesky varmints. Problem is, most people don't think much about termites. So the advertising, created by Rodgers Townsend in St. Louis, attempts to make consumers aware of the destructive threat that surrounds them. How? By putting people's houses on the menu. The first ad shows a chalkboard that reads: "Lunch special. A charming Cape Cod with hardwood floors, sprawling deck and picket fence." Another ad displays a house cut up as a butcher would slice a side of beef, with the copy: "United States Department of Housing select cuts." A third features chocolate houses in a box of candy. The tagline: "Termites eat houses." Yes, they do, but they don't eat all houses. While it's probably a good idea to take early action against termite infestation, few will.
People prefer procrastination to prevention. Our homes might have to come tumbling down around us before we're ready to join this battle.

Ever want to be a spy? You're not alone. A CNN.com QuickVote poll asked the question: Would you ever consider taking a job with the CIA? A romantic 48 percent answered, "Absolutely. I'd love the adventure"; a more pragmatic 38 percent said, "Maybe. It would depend on the pay and benefits"; and a cowardly 14 percent voted, "No way. It's too dangerous." QuickVote adds, "This poll is not scientific and reflects the results of only those Internet users who have chosen to participate."
No disclaimer necessary. It's entirely believable that four out of five people would want a career in the spy game. Who could turn down the unlimited travel, the hot romance and the high-tech gadgets--especially Maxwell Smart's shoe phone?

Now that Darva Conger has started annulment proceedings to end her marriage to comedian/multimillionaire Rick Rockwell, the jury's in on the Fox Network train wreck called Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? According to a Pollingreport.com survey, this TV show was a bad idea. Q: Is Multi-Millionaire harmful to the institution of marriage.
A: Yes (64 percent). Q: Is it degrading to women? A: Yes (62 percent). Q: Is it harmless entertainment? A: No (54 percent). And there's more. Q: Based on what happened on and since the show, how do you feel toward Darva Conger? A: Very sympathetic (5 percent); somewhat sympathetic (17 percent); somewhat unsympathetic (22 percent); very unsympathetic (44 percent). Answering the same question about Rick Rockwell: 71 percent were somewhat or very unsympathetic, while only 17 percent felt bad for the guy. Would the respondents do what Darva did, compete in a televised contest to marry a rich man they had never met? A resounding 90 percent said no. Of course, if the question were, Would you watch a new episode of the program? those numbers could flip and the new Multi-Millionaire would go from train wreck to toast of the town.
As the Democratic and Republican nominees come clearly into focus, the issue of campaign advertising will receive more scrutiny. A Fox News poll recently asked the question: Are negative ads a legitimate campaign tool or a pack of lies? Twenty percent believe negative ads are legitimate, while 61 percent said they lie. Not like it matters what people think. Al Gore, George W. Bush and the majority of Senate and House candidates will jump on the negative bandwagon this year. With more money (and more fringe groups) available to purchase commercial airtime, Election 2000 promises to sling more mud than serious ideas.

The votes are in, and the results are a little surprising. According to a recent Gallup poll, the greatest president of all time is John F. Kennedy, even though he held office for less than three years and his reputation has been tarnished in the past 20 years.
Twenty-two percent selected JFK (who may have benefited from the extensive news coverage of his son's tragic death). No. 2: Abraham Lincoln (18 percent).
No. 3: FDR (12 percent). No. 4: Ronald Reagan (11 percent). No. 5: George Washington and Bill Clinton (both 5 percent).