Is everybody happy? Now Is Not the Summer of Our Discontent
Amid the current mania for celebrities, it’s especially satisfying to feel you’re happier than the people whose faces are always on magazine covers and TV screens. And, as we learn from a new poll conducted for USA Weekend, that’s a pleasure many people are savoring. Respondents were asked to say who’s happiest: Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Pope John Paul II, Chelsea Clinton or themselves. Forty-nine percent picked themselves as happiest, with Winfrey (24 percent) and the pope (12 percent) as runners-up. Asked to rate their own happiness on a scale of 1 to 10, 66 percent of men and 68 percent of women gave themselves an 8 or higher. No wonder the publication topped its coverage of the findings with the headline, “The Age of Contentment.” What’s making people so contented? Not careers and money, by their own account. Asked to say what factor besides good health is most crucial to happiness, just 7 percent cited a satisfying job and a mere 4 percent mentioned money. By contrast, 47 percent pointed to spirituality, while 38 percent said “being loved” is what counts. With people expressing such heartfelt happiness, one can’t help wondering whether today’s irony-drenched advertising is behind the curve. Many agencies may now be better at creating “edgy” images than happy ones, but will cheery consumers feel in sync with a brand whose ads spoil the good mood?

Snack Time! Teenage Chowhounds
Considering the amount of time they spend feeding their faces, it’s a wonder America’s teenagers have any time left for sex, drugs and/or rock ‘n’ roll. A study of 12-17-year-olds conducted for Channel One Network finds the kids eat an average of 4.33 times a day, with 42 percent of them eating five or more times daily. Despite the stereotypical image of teens skipping breakfast as they rush out to catch the school bus, the study found they’re as likely to eat that meal as lunch or dinner. And in an era when parents worry about a paucity of after-school programs, teens have devised one of their own: snacking. The report says the typical kid spends $1.25 a day on afternoon snacks–which works out to $5.2 billion a year for the cohort as a whole.

MIXED BLESSINGS: Dress for Success, Premarital Patience, A Beer’s Head, Etc.
Amid last weekend’s flag-waving, Americans probably took it for granted that the flags themselves were imported from some distant land. But the commerce in stars and stripes isn’t as one-sided as they might suppose in this era of trade deficits.
A bulletin from the Census Bureau informs us that imports of U.S. flags totaled $710,200 last year, with most of that money flowing to Taiwan. But those imports were partially offset by $473,200 in exports of U.S. flags, with the Dominican Republic the biggest customer.

Here’s further evidence that account people will do anything to please a client. Eisner & Associates recently created an ad that demonstrates how client Polaroid’s [X]oor sunglasses filter out reflected glare, thus allowing you to distinguish between a Bobbi and a Bob. After tryouts for the transvestite role, the Baltimore agency awarded it to account supervisor Glen Schorr. If only Cannes had a category for Best Five O’clock Shadow.

The course of true love doesn’t run smooth, and it doesn’t run all that quick, either. A poll of 3,000 brides-to-be by Bride’s finds respondents average nine dates with Mr. Right before having sex with him. We’ll take this to indicate that ads’ romantic imagery needn’t carry overtones of unbridled lust in order to resonate with young women. On the matter of marital fidelity, just 4 percent of respondents expect to have trouble remaining faithful to their spouses, while 8 percent think it’ll be a challenge for their husbands.

While the autoworkers’ strike prompts General Motors to cut back on ads, the trickier task will come when the strike ends. After all, car buyers are likely to wonder about a company’s products when the media have been full of stories about labor-management acrimony. Feel-good commercials featuring happy workers will look fishy, but so will business-as-usual pitches for the cars. In short, retooling won’t be confined to the company’s factories this summer–or, at least, shouldn’t be.

Procter & Gamble toiled for years to squelch rumors that its logo carried an esoteric reference to satanism. But some brands have a more happy-go-lucky attitude about the misinterpretations their emblems might provoke. Thus does Rolling Rock cheerfully invite speculation that the equine head painted on its bottle–sans equine body, as in a famous scene from The Godfather–is a message from the don. It gives a fresh impression of Latrobe, Pa., transforming the beer’s hometown from a bucolic Bedford Falls into a beery Pottersville. We trust the target audience will be more amused than alarmed, willingly regarding Rolling Rock as a beer they can’t refuse. Ammirati Puris Lintas of New York created the ad.