Mark Dolliver’s Takes: Mixed Blessings

It’s no surprise that poor body image is endemic among women who never work out. And, indeed, a poll by Self finds 75 percent of non-exercisers saying, “I hate my body and would trade it in for a new one if I could.” More surprisingly, 39 percent of those who work out frequently said the same, as did 51 percent of those who exercise once or twice a week. Forty-three percent of those who work out often said, “I’m happier with my body now than I was five years ago,” as did 22 percent of those who work out once or twice a week. But the same goes for 18 percent of those who never work out.

Save your sarcasm for the adults. A study by researchers at the University of Calgary found that kids under age 10 tend to think sarcastic speech is meant seriously. Even when they see the humorous intent, most of them “don’t really think sarcasm is funny.” The moral for marketers: When MTV-style irony trickles down to spots aimed at little kids, the audience isn’t likely to be amused.

Chocolate isn’t kid stuff—or not exclusively so. In an ad for a Portland, Ore.-based brand of fancy chocolates, the only “little ones” are the confections. And the illustration’s chic woman looks as if she slipped away from a fashion ad to have a quick snack. B/O/C Advertising of Portland created the ad.

Let us dream, fellow drinkers, of the day when we choose a tavern based on whether it’sin-network or out-of-network for purposes of reimbursement by our health plans. That happy day (or happy hour) can’t be far off, as evidence accumulates that regular and moderate intake of alcohol helps stave off heart disease. The latest study, described this month in The New England Journal of Medicine, reveals the importance of imbibing frequently. Men who drank at least three days a week had about one-third fewer heart attacks than did non-drinkers. Those who drank once or twice a week had fewer heart attacks than non-drinkers but a greater number than the more-frequent drinkers. Clearly, the local bar is a veritable health spa, if one makes prudent use of it. The first insurer bold enough to underwrite such a regimen of preventive care will have a unique selling proposition if ever there was one.

Meanwhile, I guess those “Drink responsibly” admonitions aren’t making a big impression. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear that chronic drunks aren’t the only people who indulge in binge drinking. Between 1993 and 2001, people who usually are moderate drinkers managed to account for 47 percent of all binge-drinking episodes (defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a sitting). Likewise, 73 percent of the people guilty of binge drinking were otherwise in the moderate-drinker category. While men accounted for 81 percent of binge-drinking episodes, that still leaves women with a substantial share of the nation’s hangovers.

Though Americans don’t travel often enough to suit the woebegone airline industry, a Scarborough Research study finds they’re still a footloose lot. Twenty-one percent of adults in 74 major cities had made five or more overnight trips (“by air, land or sea,” in Scarborough’s lovely phrase) during the 12 months before being questioned. People who live in Atlanta and Austin, Texas, were the most likely to qualify as frequent travelers; residents of Buffalo, N.Y., were the least likely. (Could you tear yourself away from Buffalo if you lived there?) The top destinations included New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas.

Honors for this winter’s Catchiest Variation on the Phrase “You Are Here” go to this billboard posted in Texas to tout Colorado’s Keystone Resort. We trust it won’t instead promote billboard-chairlift-sitting as a new extreme sport. Cultivator Advertising & Design of Boulder, Colo., created the piece.

If we are hit by a double-dip recession, it won’t be because young men are putting too much of their income into savings. In an online poll by Esquire, 19 percent of participants confessed they save or invest precisely “none” of their pay. Eight percent salt away 1 percent to 2 percent of it; 18 percent save 3-5 percent of it. Just 31 percent of them claimed to save more than 10 percent of their pay. Does improvidence make men unhappy? Not to judge by another of the findings. Asked whether they’re generally happy, 87 percent of respondents said “yes.” They’d be even happier if they had more free time. Given a choice between an extra week’s vacation and an extra week’s pay, respondents preferred the vacation by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

Since Americans are too weary to clean their homes (as they often complain), does that mean their sinks are piled high with dirty pots? Not at all—because they’re also too tired to cook! In an AC Nielsen poll of heads of households, 50 percent said they’re “so busy and in such a hurry all day that by dinner I’m too worn out to fix a meal that requires much in the way of time or effort.” The 18-34-year-olds were especially likely to say this (62 percent); fewer of those age 55-plus did so (33 percent).