Slimming Your Brain, Rating The Months, Etc.

To judge by the epidemic of weight gain, Americans are all too comfortable about putting on the pounds. In the abstract, though, they still love the idea of being slim and fear the prospect of getting fat (or fatter). In a poll conducted for Fitness magazine, 63 percent of women and 55 percent of men said they’d “rather be poor and have no weight to lose than be rich but significantly overweight.” Similarly, 58 percent of women and 54 percent of men said they’d rather lose their job than gain 75 pounds. Seventeen percent of men and 11 percent of women would consider giving up 20 points of IQ if they could have a “perfect body.” (You can’t be too thin or too stupid!) And there’s good news for dentists: 27 percent of the women polled said they “would rather get teeth pulled than shop for swimsuits.”

April may be the cruelest month, but that doesn’t make it the least popular. A poll by Opinion Research Corp. asked adults to say which month they like least and which they like most. January fared the worst, chosen as favorite by 3 percent of respondents and as least-favorite by 30 percent. Even February did better (13 percent least-favorite, 2 percent favorite). June was the most popular month, picked as favorite by 16 percent and as least-favorite by 2 percent. If you suspect that June weddings are a factor, note that women were much more likely than men to pick that month as their favorite (18 percent vs. 13 percent). July was the runner-up (15 percent favorite, 3 percent least-favorite), easily outscoring its summertime companion, August (7 percent favorite, 8 percent least-favorite). Then there’s December, month of contrasts. It had a high favorite tally (15 percent), but also had a high least-favorite vote (9 percent). November did surprisingly badly, given how popular Thanksgiving is: It’s the favorite for 4 percent of those polled and the least-favorite for 3 percent.

Here’s further evidence that men are the main obstacles to marriage. According to this year’s Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, nearly 20 percent of gay women have had a “commitment/civil union/same-sex wedding with their partner,” vs. just 9 percent of gay men. Conducted by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and the OpusComm Group (and released by Scarborough Research), the study also found the gay population to be less city-centric than popular stereotype would suggest. Fewer than half of gay females (45 percent) live in cities, and not many more than half of gay men do so (57 percent). Nearly half of the study’s participants said they own their own homes. Twenty-one percent of the women have minor children in their households, as do 5 percent of the men. In many instances, these children are artifacts of their parents’ pre-gay past: “32 percent of males and 68 percent of females have at least one child that was conceived by them as part of a prior opposite-sex relationship.”

This is your brain (you wish) on maple cream truffle. Though it doesn’t entirely resolve the old mind-body problem, an ad for the Chicago Chocolate Co. (see upper right) offers an engaging look at the way women’s brains react to the pleasure their owners take in eating chocolate. Another execution in the series quotes a woman’s bemused brain as asking, “How did I get here? And why is there chocolate all over my hands?” There are no easy answers to these questions, but we salute the chocolatier’s ad agency, Energy BBDO of Chicago, for raising them.

Hope to see America’s hardest-working heiress cavort in more commercials? Then you’d better hope advertisers aren’t scared off by an NPD Group report on the effectiveness of some celebrity endorsers. It put Paris Hilton on a list of those whose endorsements “appear to have a negative influence on purchasing.” Also on this roster: Kobe Bryant, Donald Trump, Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith. By contrast, home-improvement expert Ty Pennington and Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders are less famous but exert a strongly positive effect on people who know of them. Also rated as very effective were James Earl Jones, Emeril Lagasse and Carlos Santana.

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