Mixed Blessings

Outlaw chic comes to the household-products sector. Respondents to a Zogby poll were asked if allegations of insider trading by Martha Stewart affected their inclination to buy her products. Twenty-nine percent said it made them less likely to buy them, while 64 percent said it made no difference. But a madcap 6 percent said the rumors made them more likely to buy her wares.

Do children drive their parents to drink? Not as often as one might suppose. A report by the Child Trends DataBank finds 7.3 percent of parents saying they drink “heavily” at least once a month, including 3.5 percent who do so at least once a week. Fathers are about four times as likely as mothers to say they sometimes drink heavily.

With all the other things college freshmen have to worry about, at least they needn’t fret about gaining 15 pounds. An item on the HealthScout Web site cites expert opinion debunking the “freshman 15” as a myth. It points to a study (published in the Journal of American College Health) that found 36 percent of students lost weight during their first year in college. Among those who did bulk up, the average weight gain was 4.6 pounds, not the legendary 15.

Honors for Best Use of a Toilet-Papered Satellite Dish go this week to an ad for Avid’s news cutter. The premise: TV stations that use Avid’s broadcast-production equipment for their newscasts will make other stations maliciously jealous. Boston-based Clarke Goward created the ad.

For some people, growing old can be a bitter pill to swallow. And odds are it’s not the only pill they have to swallow. A study by AARP finds more than three-fourths of Americans age 45-plus take prescription medications on a regular basis. Of course, getting a prescription and taking the drug are two different things. More than one in five of the 45-plus cohort said they’ve neglected to fill at least one prescription during the past two years, most often due to its price. There’s scant enthusiasm for generics, though, even though 95 percent of the study’s respondents said they’re familiar with them. One possible explanation for this: Among the 45-and-overs who perceive a difference between generics and brand-name prescription drugs, just 15 percent think the generics cost less.

They’d be happy to get a Mercedes, but a poll by NFO WorldGroup finds teens have more modest expectations. Asked which brand they want for their first car, teens put Ford (picked by 16 percent) atop the list, with Chevrolet (14.5 percent) a close second. However, when asked to rank cars based on their “overall impressions” of each brand, kids gave the highest marks to Mercedes- Benz and Lexus. Girls were more likely than boys to favor smaller imports, such as Honda, Volkswagen and Hyundai. Boys were keener on Chevy, Jeep and Cadillac.

A year ago, the theme of “Good vs. Evil” would have seemed over the top in an ad about employee retirement benefits. Now, it’s quite in keeping with the public mood. The ad here (via Group One Brand Marketing of Minneapolis) pitches the capabilities of a local law firm in structuring a retirement plan. We’re happy to note, by the way, that it positions “Good” as the better option.

Sure, Internet commerce has been a sinkhole for many investors. But it continues to be a boon for consumers. An Ipsos-Reid poll (commissioned by the Business Software Alliance) found 8 percent of Internet users purchase products online “very often” and 30 percent “fairly often.” Asked whether they’re more or less likely to shop online than they were two years ago, 64 percent said “more” and 6 percent said “less.”

As an item in Wired remarks, the species of tech-obsessed high school nerd has evolved somewhat since gaining prominence at the dawn of the PC age. Twenty years ago, nerds were regarded with “curiosity and derision.” Now, they’re looked upon with “fear and knowledge of eventual envy.” Then, the nerd aspired to be an “electrical engineer”; now, the career goal is “chief technology officer.” Favorite television show 20 years ago: “Monty Python, Dr. Who or whatever was on Friday.” Favorite television show now: “Sliders, or whatever else on the Sci-Fi Channel.”