ROCK ON, BOOMERS: They Won't Go Gentle Into Their AARP Phase
The kicking and screaming you hear is the sound of baby boomers being dragged into adulthood. A Roper Starch survey finds 46 percent of respondents age 30-44 conceding they're "somewhat" or "very" concerned about aging. (This does not speak well for the honesty of the 54 percent who claim to be unconcerned.) It's not that boomers want a fountain of youth to keep them forever young. Rather, Roper's analysis of its data suggests boomers "want to enjoy the benefits of growing older while still retaining the vigor and vitality of youth." Nice work if you can get it. And what, you ask, are the benefits of growing older? Putting that question to respondents of all age groups, Roper found that 47 percent associate aging with wisdom, while 45 percent connect it with more time for travel and hobbies and 30 percent see closer ties to friends and family. What worries people most about aging is the prospect that they'll have trouble taking care of themselves physically, with 50 percent of respondents expressing this concern. It's no surprise that many of them try to hide the visible signs of aging. In all, 17 percent say they've colored their hair to conceal gray, and 11 percent admit they've used cosmetics to conceal age marks. No figures are available on how many deliberately say stupid things to conceal their increasing wisdom.
HOME, SWEET HOME: Let's Go Out Back
A few years ago, a Harvard professor noted that Americans were "bowling alone" rather than in leagues. From this, he extrapolated a whole theory on the rise of private pursuits at the expense of civic institutions. Here's some similar grist for the sociological mills: A survey by Colonial Homes finds people far more eager to have a back porch than a front porch. Asked to pick the amenities they'd want in their "ideal home," 55 percent of men and 44 percent of women said they'd like a back porch. By contrast, 33 percent of women and 21 percent of men had a yen for the intrinsically more sociable front porch. Among other home truths from the data: Men are even more eager than women to have professional-grade appliances in their kitchens, with 77 percent of the former and 68 percent of the latter expressing that wish.
UNIMPRESSIONABLE? Then There Are Those Who Are Just Perfect
Afraid you've earned a hemlock cocktail for corrupting the young? Relax. As far as teenagers are concerned, at least, advertising doesn't affect them one way or another. Asked in a USA Weekend reader poll to say how much they're influenced by factors ranging from parents to religion to celebrities, a mere 4 percent said advertising sways them "a lot." Another 32 percent said it does "somewhat," while 64 percent said it has no influence at all. Perhaps that's why teens, despite the angst endemic to their life stage, feel pretty good about themselves. As you can see from the chart, teens generally credit themselves with the qualities they most admire in others - except, predictably, when it comes to good looks. Another part of the survey asked teens to choose from a list of things that might make them feel better about themselves. Forty-nine percent said "getting better grades" would do the trick, giving it an edge over "bulking or toning up" and "losing weight" (38 percent apiece). A cocky 15 percent of the teens preferred to make no change at all: "I like myself the way I am."
I LIKE TO BE IN AMERICA: Hispanic Americans Are as Upbeat as Everyone Else
A poll by Univision finds Hispanics in the U.S. fully participating in the giddy optimism that marks American public opinion these days. Sixty-eight percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with the economy, and 78 percent were happy with their personal economic situations. Nor do they think this rosy state of affairs is a momentary fluke: 58 percent said they expect their personal finances to continue improving, and 81 percent are optimistic about the future for Hispanics in the U.S. Among respondents who are parents, three out of four expect their kids to fare better economically than they have.
MIXED BLESSINGS: The Retiring Types, Photogenic Livestock, Colonial Gossip, Etc.
As if they haven't caused enough trouble already in the workplace, baby boomers will cause further disruption when they leave it. So we learn from a press release that comes our way with the alarming headline, "Retiring Baby Boomers to Cause Staffing Dilemmas." Since large percentages of boomers say they want to retire by age 55 (if not earlier), the exodus could begin any minute, warns Ross Corp., an executive recruitment firm based in Schaumburg, Ill. Seeking to drum up business, Ross counsels hiring managers that it's "never too early to begin the recruitment process." Well, maybe. On the other hand, economists never tire of warning that boomers aren't saving enough to retire and will have to work indefinitely. If so, the boom for companies like Ross may come in geriatric outplacement.
Operating on the reasonable theory that people are more interested in themselves than in the news, a chain of wired coffee-bars-cum-newsstands extends a warm welcome to ditzes. For that matter, who among us does not have an occasional yen for "shallow, meaningless topics" as an accompaniment to our coffee? Outdoor ads (via Blum/Herbstreith, New York) should ensure the NewsBar of an endless stream of customers whose brains are more in the mood for caffeine than for learned discourse.
People kept comparing it to the Super Bowl in terms of the audience and ad revenue it generated. In one respect, though, the ultimate Seinfeld was superior to any Super Bowl: It didn't have a halftime show. Imagine how much better the Super Bowl itself would be if the game went four quarters without that interruption. Granted, the network would lose the commercial slots that halftime creates. But a halftimeless game might attract so many more viewers that ad rates could be boosted enough to recoup the loss. If our nation can put a man on the moon, surely it can accomplish this.
Cow of the Week honors go to Reddi-wip, whose latest ad indicates that some companies take branding more seriously than others. Brief copy assures readers that the product, notwithstanding the can in which it comes, is "real whipped cream" and offers "fresh-from-the-farm taste." Meanwhile, some people will ignore the sales pitch as the notion of a career in bovine aerial photography seizes their imaginations. Cramer-Krasselt of Milwaukee created the ad.
If you have questions about sexual dalliance in the White House, don't take them to Washington. Take them to Colonial Williamsburg, where the staffers who pose as historical figures don't refer all such queries to their attorneys. As for George Washington's wooden-toothed kissing, an ad for the historical site has Martha explaining to a visitor: "Actually, they're ivory, dear." Just Partners of Richmond, Va., created the ad. Ruefully noting the cheesy pop culture in which kids are immersed, another ad suggests a young boy might request a family trip to Williamsburg "if his kid's meal came with Thomas Jefferson action figures."
CHECKBOOK AND ALL: Here Comes the Bride
Maybe fiancees and fiances want to give themselves more time to back out. Or maybe they just need more time to plan the lavish weddings that have become the norm. Either way, a survey by Bride's magazine finds the average length of engagement rising sharply during this decade, from 11 months in 1990 to 13 months at present. If nothing else, the extended betrothal allows couples to save for the big day. The study finds 27 percent of weddings now paid for by the couple themselves, with the bride's father picking up the whole tab just 19 percent of the time. And quite a tab it is, averaging $19,104. Among other tidbits from the study: While June brides get all the press, that month (with 10.3 percent of nuptials) accounts for no more weddings than May (also 10.3 percent) and just a shade more than August (10.2 percent) and July (10 percent).
ANSWERS, PLEASE: And See That You Be Quick About It
When business-to-business ads invite readers to request more information, people aren't bashful about taking them up on it. In a survey conducted by Penton Research Services among managers, executives, engineers and purchasing agents, 55 percent said they've increased the frequency of such requests during the past five years. And 65 percent expect to make even more inquiries during the next five years. Advertisers that aren't ready to give useful answers will find themselves in hot water. As the chart indicates, tight production deadlines mean there's a premium on information about product availability and delivery times. Survey respondents say they expect to rely more heavily on email, the Internet and "fax-on-demand" as methods for seeking additional information when they respond to an ad.