gimme gimme gimme: How Kids Make the ‘Nag Factor’ an Economic Force
Today’s consumers are famously adept at filtering out unwanted sales pitches. But it’s trickier when the pitch comes from their kids as the tykes clamor for a new toy, a candy bar, a bag of french fries–whatever. Seeking to quantify the “nag factor,” a study commissioned by Los Angeles-based Western International Media found 89 percent of kids age 3-8 asking for toys, 64 percent demanding videos, 55 percent asking for certain cereals, 53 percent specifying snacks, etc. Nagging was a key factor in toy purchases, with 46 percent of parents saying they wouldn’t have bought an item had they not been nagged into submission. The equivalent figure for foods was 34 percent. The study distinguishes between “persistence nagging,” in which a kid merely iterates a demand over and over again, and “importance nagging,” in which the kid turns a particular purchase into a life-and-death issue. Persistence nagging is ineffectual in prompting toy purchases, the study found, and actually reduces the likelihood the parent will buy a given food or beverage. But importance nagging significantly boosts purchases in those categories, and it’s a major factor in prompting visits to theme parks.

Young and Restful and Sober
Is the typical Gen Xer a practitioner of extreme sports–para-skateboarding one weekend and hang-gliding the next? Not quite. A survey conducted among 18-34-year-olds by Swing magazine finds more than one-third of respondents confessing they get less than an hour of exercise per week. At least they give their doctors ample opportunity to reprove them for their lethargy: 62 percent have gone for a checkup within the past year, and another 16 percent have done so within the past two or three years. For better or worse, the average young adult isn’t taking a vigorous walk to a bar each evening: A mere 6 percent of respondents report having 10 or more drinks in a week, while another 6 percent toss back five to 10 drinks. More than half (52 percent) don’t drink at all in a typical week. Of course, this seeming moderation may reflect a predilection for less-traditional vices.

Fashion Gap: No Wonder The Proles Aren’t Looking So Chic
Let’s hope the U.S. apparel industry is suitably grateful to affluent consumers, since they’re the ones keeping revenue trends fashionably in the black. Retail clothing sales rose 12 percent last year to consumers with a household income above $60,000, according to The NPD Group of Port Washington, N.Y. Indeed, the $60,000-plus contingent accounted for $4 of every $10 spent on clothing last year. Noblesse oblige may be a thing of the past, but at least upper-income folks feel obliged to keep up appearances. Meanwhile, sales to consumers in the threadbare $15,000-24,999 income range slipped 9 percent. Elsewhere in the data, we find women toiling to reassert fashion primacy in the face of a challenge from style-conscious men. For the first time since 1993, women’s apparel eclipsed men’s in terms of sales growth: Retail totals were up 5 percent for women and 3 percent for men.

MIXED BLESSINGS: The Misplaced Rabbit, Not-So-Fine Dining, Rogue Poultry, Etc.
And that’s why we call it the paper of record. The following correction ran on March 14 in The New York Times: “Because of an editing error, an article on Feb. 26 about Manhattanites’ reliance on mini-storage referred incorrectly to the doves used in the act of Arnie Kolodner, a magician. While he keeps costumes in mini-storage, the doves live in his home.” A few days later, a further correction appeared: “Because of an editing error, an article on Feb. 26 about Manhattanites’ reliance on mini-storage referred incorrectly to doves and a rabbit used in the act of Arnie Kolodner, a magician. While he keeps costumes in mini-storage, the rabbit and doves live in his home. A correction in this space on Saturday omitted mention of the rabbit.”

Any ad can tout a brand’s strong points. It takes extra effort to tout its worst debility. A direct mail campaign for Slickity Jim’s Chat ‘n Chew takes on that task with gusto. It seems the restaurant is located in a seedy part of Vancouver, B.C. Rather than ignore that shortcoming, the ads make a virtue of it, positioning the Chat ‘n Chew as a destination for folks who enjoy slumming. Playing off the motto, “Good Food in a Rough Part of Town,” one ad notes that the eatery doesn’t have valet parking. “However, a stranger may take your car.” BBDO’s office in Vancouver–a choicer part of Vancouver, we trust–created the ads.

He may be beyond the twilight of a mediocre career in movies, but George Hamilton has won a sun-drenched spot in the pantheon of cultural icons. The latest ad to invoke the actor’s ever-tan visage comes via BVK/McDonald of Milwaukee.

File this in your “When Bad Things Happen to Bad Chickens” archives. The low-life chickens who aspire to be Foster Farms poultry are back in a new batch of spots, and things aren’t going well for them. We see one of the wannabes submitting to liposuction–with a vacuum cleaner as the surgical instrument–in an effort to be 99 percent fat-free. In another spot, the chickens sneak into a backyard kiddie pool to marinate themselves and are chased off by the pool’s ax-wielding owner. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco created the poultry display.