Future Perfect: Intelligent Refrigerators?
In the not-too-distant future, your trusty fridge will be doing double duty. It will keep track of food essentials so you can print out your shopping list or transmit it electronically to a home delivery service. In addition, robotic lawn mowers will be a common sight next to the white picket fence, hidden 'Nannycams' inside teddy bears will give you visual access to your kids and sleeping machines will be used to produce either peaceful sleep or provoke intense dreams. (Don't laugh: NovaDreamers, a technology that combines eyemasks with circuitry, is already in development.) That's just some of the new millennium trendspotting contained in this fall's publication of Next: The Flow of the Future from Young & Rubicam lead trendtracker Marian Salzman, who is credited with discovering the "wigger" phenomenon and the first to use online focus groups, and Ira Matathia, her former partner in running TBWA International's department of the future in Amsterdam. An early version of Next was published in the Netherlands last fall and has been the country's top nonfiction best seller.
Calling Dr. Freud
Lettuce Seduce You
You would think the threat of mad cow disease is compelling enough to coax English consumers to give up their mutton and roast beef. But Britain's Vegetarian Society is taking no chances as it rides the current trendiness of a meatless diet. In a new 30-second cinema spot, OgilvyOne uses suggestively shaped chilies, peaches splashed with crme fra"che, melon fondling and a flaccid asparagus to imbue a new sensuality to a lifestyle that typically conjures up all the sex appeal of tofu. "The film's a bit naughty," Graham Daldry, group creative head, concedes. "Being a vegetarian used to be just for the weirdy, beardy group left over from the '60s. Now most people choosing it are under 35. It's a cool, sexy way to live." Four-to-six million Britons now eat no meat, he adds, with that number growing by 5,000 every week.
The Way We Live
Through the Looking Glass, Dimly
TV is arguably the most powerful reflection of American life, with 100 million viewers tuning in on any given night. But the reality flashing back at them portrays a distorted world in which most adults are men, few mothers work for pay and almost no one is over 50. Child care is rarely a problem and looking after elders comes less than never. Those are among the concerns raised by the National Partnership for Women & Families in the first study on how prime-time TV addresses modern work and family issues."TV is really lagging," contends Lauren Asher, partnership representative. "We got Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown at about the right time, but we're not seeing much of those progressive portrayals now." Asher points out that more than 62 percent of adult TV characters are men, compared to 49 percent of the U.S. population. Women aren't being overlooked because they're busy at the office, however. While 67 percent of American mothers earn a paycheck, just 34 percent of their TV counterparts do, and there are proportionately fewer female executives, teachers and technicians on the screen. Child care is shown as an issue for less than half of the TV parents with kids. Equally striking is the absence of families taking care of elders. Only 26 of the 820 adult characters on TV have responsibility for an adult relative. That's in sharp contrast to the reality that one in four Americans cared for an older relative over the past year.
MIXED BLESSINGS: The M&A Bulls Roar; Why We Love Mom; Pizza Cooks Idea
Do as I do, not as I say. When AdMedia sought out opinions about the prospects for mergers and acquisitions in 1997, the investment banker's queries drew considerable complaints about asset prices deemed too high. But rather than wait for more rational multiples, buyers jumped into the marketplace with abandon and there's been little evidence of any slowdown in sight. AdMedia, which specializes in advertising and publishing deals, now says its latest survey shows that 55 percent of those polled in the advertising and marketing services sector expect an increase in M&A activity this year. Among media respondents, 35 percent predict transactional levels will increase over last year's highs. Fueling these bullish sentiments are a number of factors: Low interest rates make money more easily available; enthusiasm among buyers is rising, making it harder for sellers to ignore prices bidding upward; industry consolidation continues to drive deals; and the lowering of the capital gains tax rate last year makes it more appealing for those wishing to cash out.
Take heart all moms! It may seem that in the endless confusion and demands that characterize a typical day, your own contributions to the family are overlooked in the urgency of others' needs. But in another one of our glimpses at data from Roper Starch, published in a new report from the Whirlpool Foundation, we see that kids notice and appreciate more of the good things about their mothers than they let on. Not only do the surveyed children view mom as nurturing, they also recognize how hard she works. "Smart" ranks third highest in the descriptions they offer about their own mothers, but that quality ranks only 12th in their qualifications of a "good" mom. Likewise, "hard worker" came in fourth when they defined their mothers' attributes, while it ranked tenth in requirements for a "good" mom.
The contradictory, complex career tracks that Black professionals navigate in American business are underscored in a new poll from Fortune. More than two- thirds of respondents describe themselves as optimistic about their futures, with more than half expecting to be promoted within five years. Still, 64 percent said they would advise young blacks to pursue ambitions as entrepreneurs, with less than a quarter recommending a corporate career. A similarly large number, 68 percent, expressed a desire to start their own businesses, and 50 percent felt black leaders should spend more time on business issues. When asked whether workplace discrimination is still common, 81 percent said yes. More surprisingly, 41 percent of those polled said they would accept a job at a company that had been found guilty of discrimination, while 40 percent said they would not. Those willing to sign on with such corporations explained their position by saying that they felt most organizations are somewhat discriminatory in nature. They also share an element of pragmatism in the aftermath of the Texaco discrimination suit, saying they feel a situation might improve if a company has already been found guilty of unfair hiring and advancement practices.
Location, location, location: In trying to break through the clutter that is Los Angeles billboard advertising, Colby Effler & Partners uses surrounding real estate as the cornerstone in a new outdoor campaign for California Pizza Kitchen. A board above a dentist's office suggests: "They prefer you lay off the garlic chicken pizza before your appointment"; another, above a florist, reads: "Because giving her a dozen fresh tomato pizzas seems a bit excessive." "Think of this as the ultimate extension on a billboard," says Rick Colby, CE&P president, executive creative director. "Instead of just adding a few feet up or to the side, these billboards extend right down to the streets." All the posters are carefully located within five miles of a CPK outlet and will stay up through September. The pitch has already begun to take on a life of its own. One 99-cent store began mounting its own rebuttals, using arrow-pointing messages that respond to the pizza maker's assertions that the discounter can't come up with a Tandoori chicken pizza for under a buck. But it's all being played out in fun. None of the stores have refused the agency's overtures and CPK even threw in free pizza.