MCGWIRE’S MARK: His Good Hitting And Our Bad Attitude
As Mark McGwire pounds his way toward a new home-run record, it’s hard to find people who aren’t rooting for him. Does that reflect a generosity of spirit on the part of fans? Unlikely. What it reveals, I suspect, is a form of gluttony. We covet the experience of seeing all records set in our lifetimes, rather than hanging over us from the dead past. It makes us uncomfortable to know that the greatest achievement in some field happened before we were even born; our self-importance is offended. When McGwire draws close to the marks set by Babe Ruth and Roger Maris (assuming he does), we’ll witness the unedifying spectacle of fans in other National League ballparks rooting for him to hit homers against their home teams–just so they can own the experience of seeing one of a record-breaking 61-plus. In a healthier culture, we’d be happy to give the past its due, to let it keep its fair share of glory. Our disinclination to do so flattens the contour of human history and, in a small way, makes life less interesting.

UNMERRY MAY: Adding Up Adweek’s Classified Ads For Jobs
Is the party over? At the very least, a tally of the help-wanted ads in Adweek
suggests the market for jobs in advertising, marketing and media has lost the oomph it displayed during the past several years. That’s particularly true of agency jobs, with a number of shops now saying they’re not hiring. Gulp.
kids on board: Taming the Wild SUV
Here’s an idea to make those sport-utility vehicles less lethal to everyone else on the road: Instead of redesigning the SUVs, simply equip them with children. Here’s the rationale: A survey conducted on the Web site of Sesame Street Parents magazine asked people whether they drive more safely when there are kids in the vehicle. No fewer than 79 percent of the participants said they do. Of course, this also means they drive less carefully when there aren’t children as passengers, which seems like a formula for making orphans of their kids.

NET RESULTS: Viewing Cyberspace As A Den Of Thieves
The Internet may be the hottest thing since sliced bread. When it comes to buying things via that medium, though, many consumers abide by the classic admonition of horror-movie trailers: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” A survey of Internet users by CDB Research & Consulting of New York finds a small minority of respondents expressing full confidence in the security of credit-card transactions in cyberspace. (The chart below summarizes the data.) Nor do Internet denizens confine their concern to the issue of security. The survey also finds about half of respondents believing that information posted on the Internet is unreliable. Taking all such factors into account, the study concludes that while many consumers use the Internet as a source of information about products, they “frequently wait to make purchases at more traditional retail outlets.”

MIXED BLESSINGS: Flights Of Fancy, Godzilla’s Day Job, Etc.
“I could never be interested in anyone who works in advertising.” So says one of the dishy female leads toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s new movie, The Last Days of Disco. The advertising business has often taken its lumps on the big screen, and it gets less-than-reverent treatment in this film. Set in the early ’80s, much of the action takes place in a Studio 54esque disco whose unsavory owner once worked at a major agency. The experience was painful for him, not least because people were expected to be nice to one another–“even to the art department.” (There’s an element of fantasy in every movie.) As a result, he loathes agency people, including one of the movie’s principal characters, Jimmy Steinway, a lowly account guy whose job apparently hangs on his ability to spirit clients into the exclusive club. Having been barred from the disco at one point, Steinway sneaks into it by donning a harlequin costume. When he’s suddenly unmasked on the dance floor and kicked out once more, he lets loose a plaintive cry that will resonate with agency people everywhere: “OK, I work in advertising. Is that a crime?” It may not be a crime, but in this movie, it is a blunder.

There are so-called fashion victims and then there are flesh-and-blood accident victims. Head-to-toe black leather may be a louder fashion statement than you care to make. But if you’re buzzing around on a motorcycle, the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center wants you to know that prudence should dictate your attire. You can change back into librarianwear once you’ve reached your destination. Martin/Williams of Minneapolis created the ad.

Given Seattle’s image in recent years as Percolator-on-Puget, it’s no surprise that a poster for the city’s Museum of Flight includes a jolt of caffeine. Does coffee really vaporize at 2,432 mph? This may be one of those occasions in life when it’s best to take someone’s word for it. A note from Seattle agency Cole & Weber says the museum has suffered from a rather stodgy image. And, though stodginess is precisely what many of us like about museums, the mission of this poster campaign is to make the place look accessible and fun. Looks like it’ll do the trick. Another execution in the series features the Aerocar–a vehicle that looks like a 1965 Sunbeam with a Piper Cub bolted to its roof. “Freak of nature or 100% American ingenuity?” asks the copy. “You decide.” Still another features a retired Air Force One in the museum’s possession, posing the question: “Was the ‘Watch Your Step’ sign specifically designed for President Ford?”

Who needs million-dollar special effects when there are blowtorches and plastic toys to be had? Reviews make the new Godzilla movie sound pretty tedious, notwithstanding the ton of money its production consumed. By contrast, a new commercial for Kirin looks as if it had a budget of $14.95, but it manages to be thoroughly entertaining. The spot comes in the guise of a movie titled Godzilla vs. Kirin. (The Japanese beer has arranged a partnership with TriStar Pictures, which made the big-screen movie.) In the commercial, a bottle of Kirin engages Godzilla in a battle to the death. Kirin begins the struggle by doing what a voiceover play-by-play describes as “the twist-off”–spinning around and flinging his bottle cap at Godzilla. Thus provoked, the monster breathes fire at Kirin (assisted by human hands holding a torch). Evidently weakened by the flames, Kirin is unable to fight back when Godzilla stomps on him. The film ends with a last few drops trickling out of the lifeless bottle as the voiceover declares, “Mighty Godzilla has defeated Kirin.” But there’s no rest for the weary monster, as a tagline promises a sequel: “Coming soon, Godzilla vs. Mega-Kirin.” Los Angeles agency Houston Helm and Co. created the cinematic spot for Kirin Brewery of America.