The Moralists: And Just 3% Admit They Cheated on the Survey
If you’ve been watching the news in recent weeks, you’ll know that Americans can tolerate a good deal of cheating. But a survey by Condƒ Nast Sports for Women reminds us that a sizable minority of people have strict views on these matters. More than one-fifth of respondents–21 percent of men, 23 percent of women– said they’d “never cheat.” Among respondents who deny they’ve cheated in any way (nearly one-third of the total), 23 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women said they’ve never felt tempted to do so. Of special interest in April, just 13 percent of all respondents said they’d cheat on their taxes even if they knew for sure that the IRS would never audit them. An aversion to cheating is not confined to these paragons of virtue. In addition to those who’ve never cheated, another 57 percent of both genders declared themselves “morally opposed” to cheating. Asked whether there’s such a thing as “harmless cheating,” 55 percent of men and 66 percent of women answered “no.” Still, people assume cheating is rampant. For instance, 32 percent of respondents who work answered “yes” when asked, “Do you believe that any of your co-workers have cheated their way to the top?” Likewise, 49 percent of respondents said cheating is common in pro sports, while 47 percent said it’s common among regular folks who play golf, tennis and so on. In weeks to come, we’ll pass along other tidbits from this voluminous study.

On Active Duty: The New Grandparent
Harried parents look forward to the more leisurely pleasures that await them when they become grandparents. But they shouldn’t imagine they’ll be able to dandle little Ignatz on their knees for a minute and then resume their naps. As a Yankelovich survey finds, grandparenting has ceased to be a spectator sport. Asked what sorts of things they do with/for their grandchildren, 26 percent of grandparents said they have “primary responsibility” for raising the kids. A majority (57 percent) report that they baby-sit “regularly,” while 66 percent “cook special meals” for the little ones. The 77 percent of respondents who “buy toys/gifts regularly” are outnumbered by the 82 percent who take it upon themselves to “pass on family traditions/heritage.”

Diverging Viewers: E Pluribus Unum, But Not When It Comes To Watching Television
In January, a BBDO study trumpeted “a strong and continuing crossover trend of English-speaking Latinos’ favorite prime-time TV shows mirroring those of total U.S. households.” Late last month, a similar study by the agency “tracked a growing split in viewing preferences between black viewers and total U.S. households.”
In discussing politics, people often lump blacks and Latinos together. Whatever sense that might make with regard to public policy, the two studies suggest how far off-base it is in matters of culture. You might see a Rainbow Coalition at the ballot box, but it seems not to operate in the living room.
Consider the key finding in the more recent report: Of the top 10 shows among black viewers, not one was in the top 10 among total U.S. households. The top-rated show in black households, Between Brothers, tied for 98th place among the population at large. By contrast, eight of the top 10 shows among Latinos were also in the top 10 for the general population. ER, No. 1 among total households, ranked a strong third among Latinos.
The new study cautions against reading its findings as a portent of “any broadening of the racial divide in America,” arguing instead that they reflect a “maturing” of TV and an expansion of choices. Still, placing the studies side by side, we note that the divergence between blacks and whites is accompanied by a divergence between blacks and Latinos.
Given how much time Americans spend watching TV, one can’t help feeling that the findings indicate a cultural isolation of black viewers from their compatriots.

It’s Scientific: So, If You Can’t Say Something Nice . . .
If a comparative ad badmouths the competition, will the audience take in the intended message? A new study by university psychologists gives reason to wonder. As described last week in the Science Times section of The New York Times, the research suggests that “when someone says something, good or bad, about someone else, people tend to associate that trait with the person who made the statement.” Known in the psychology trade as “spontaneous trait transference,” the phenomenon means that “if someone calls another person dishonest, other people tend to remember the speaker as being less than honest.” So, careful what you say! A full write-up of the research appears in April’s edition of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Ups And Downs: Adding Up Adweek’s Classified Ads for Jobs
The market for jobs in advertising, marketing and media is displaying a streak of volatility, judging by the volume of help-wanted ads running in Adweek. Five of the six regions were down last month, vis-a-vis March ’97. But several regions were up in comparison to the first two months of this year. All in all, it’s probably a better time to look for a job than to look for a trend.

Mixed Blessings: The State of Baseball, God in Queens, Etc.
Can one watch a game between teams named Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies without being struck by the decline of Western Division civilization? In less bloviated times, a team would have the decency to claim no more than one city as its domain. Indeed, the Dodgers were content for half a century to bear the name of a single borough of a city. Whatever rationale the newer teams might offer for their territorial aggrandizement, it’s yet another indication of the general cheesiness of our times. One can only hope these franchises fail in their current locations and are forced to relocate, yielding more suitable names– say, as the Charlotte Rockies and the Indianapolis Diamondbacks.

It Could Be The Refrain Of A Bad Country And Western Song: Let me be your napkin when you eat those wild wings. Instead, it’s the plot of a spot by Minneapolis agency Cevette & Co. for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bar & Grill. Regarding himself as God’s gift to women, a guy at the bar is ogling two fetching women as they chow down on barbecue. Imagine his delight when the women come along and rub their hands all over his white-shirted back as they chat him up. The punch line comes when the women leave and we see that Romeo’s shirt is covered in barbecue sauce. Always nice to see a happy ending.

Aren’t bakers supposed to run ads that are as sugary-sweet as their wares? Not when irony is the dominant note throughout pop culture. At any rate, there’s certainly a tart tone to a direct mail poster in which Concept 2 Bakers lets the trade know about the variety of its offerings. You just don’t see cookies treated as voodoo dolls all that often. The bloodshot eyes of The Former Rock Star are an another vivid touch. Kruskopf Olson of Minneapolis created the piece.

Say what you will about God, he’s got one of those names that jump off the page. Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners of New York makes good use of that fact in a pro bono campaign for a help line operated by the North Presbyterian Church of Flushing, N.Y. Headline on another ad in the series: “It’s true, God is everywhere. (He just spends a whole lot of time in Queens.)” Though the country is in the midst of a religious revival, the phenomenon has taken such a motley form that churches are wise to publicize their relationship with the biggest brand name in the deity biz. As a matter of fact, the times are probably ripe for churches to include an “accept no substitute” element in their outreach efforts–even if that would hold scant appeal for people whose worshipful impulses are expended mainly on themselves.

At the crack of dawn, man’s best friend can be man’s worst enemy. A clever campaign for Kal Kan’s Cesar Select Dinners plays deftly off Fido’s dominant role in many otherwise well-regulated families. When each ad refers to the dog as “the head of the household,” readers will nod their heads in rueful agreement. BBDO West in Los Angeles created the series.