More Discipline, Please: Seeing Beyond The Stereotype Of The Defiant Teen In commercials, teenagers are depicted as individualists above all else, hostile to any authority (parental or otherwise) that impinges on their self-expression. In real life, they’re more apt to disdain than admire those who break the rules. That’s one key finding, anyway, of a Roper Starch survey conducted for Primedia among students in grades 7-12. In part of the extensive study, respondents were asked to cite the major causes of the nation’s problems. Given a list of 15 possibilities, the highest number of respondents (56 percent) picked “Selfishness, people not thinking of the rights of others.” The runner-up, noted by 52 percent: “People who don’t respect the law and the authorities.” And in fourth place (behind “Wrong-doing by politicians”) was “Lack of parental discipline of children and teens,” cited by 47 percent. When kids were asked to identify the major causes of problems in schools, the highest tally (64 percent) went to “Students who don’t respect the schoolteachers and authorities.” Can it be that adolescent rebelliousness has fallen into disrepute among adolescents themselves? If so, we have marketers partly to thank–or, depending on one’s taste in these matters, to blame. In co-opting teen suspicion of authority and reducing it to a content-free style, ads for everything from soft drinks to sneakers may be sapping the appeal of genuine defiance. After all, if grown-ups in suits so plainly believe a veneer of rebelliousness can move product off the shelf, kids will conclude it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. On The Road: Weird But Well-Loved If California is a prototype of America’s future, then lots of Americans will find the future weird. In an online poll by CNN Interactive, people were given a menu of locales and asked to pick the “weirdest.” California pulled as many votes (43 percent) as the next three weirdos combined: New York (17 percent), New Orleans (13 percent) and Florida (12 percent). Weirdness is no impediment to popularity, though. In an unrelated study of favorite travel destinations, via Dallas-based Hotel Reservations Network, California had four of the top cities (San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim). The top choice overall was Orlando, Fla., while Miami also scored well. New York ranked third, while New Orleans came in seventh. Women Vs. Marketers: Sometimes It’s A Relief To Be Misunderstood Since we’re often misunderstood by people who’ve known us all our lives, should we expect to be understood by marketers who’ve never laid eyes on us? We shouldn’t, and they don’t. In a Self/Yankelovich survey of women age 18-49 with household income of $30,000-plus, majorities said they aren’t “very well understood” by marketers in many major categories. (Cosmetics makers were the sole exception, as you can see from the chart.) The numbers on the lower end of the chart do look rather shabby. But while liquor companies might lament the fact that their collective glass is 89 percent empty, perhaps they should be pleasantly astonished to see that it’s 11 percent full. In any case, wouldn’t it give people the creeps to feel they are open books to the brand managers of the world? Consider this: Even while being so misunderstood by marketers, 71 percent of the women surveyed said their self-image has “changed for the better” during the past couple of years.