Untrustworthy Rankings, Lagging Consumers, Etc.

Good news for people in advertising: Americans trust a bunch of businesses even less than yours. The Golin/Harris Trust Survey quizzed respondents about 25 industries and came up with a score to indicate the level of trust in each one. (A number above zero meant a “strong trust profile”; a score below zero indicated a lousy one.) The advertising/marketing business garnered an unresounding -41. But nine sectors had poorer marks. The worst went to oil and gas (-63), insurance (-59) and brokerage/Wall Street (-58). Winning the best scores of all were groceries/supermarkets (+40), major retail chains (+36), drugstores (+9) and computer hardware/software (+8).

Will Viagra save men’s lives? An article in U.S. News & World Report notes the possibility of this side effect. It has nothing to do with Viagra’s chemistry. Instead, the story says, the drug gives doctor-averse men a new reason to consult a physician—at which point life-threatening conditions may come to light before some of these guys simply keel over. “A doctor can accomplish a lot with that visit,” says a medical professor quoted in the article. There is a downside: The current economics of medical insurancepresume that many men will shun doctors, and the premium structure will be wrecked if they change their ways.

Consumers were slow to realize the economy was tanking. Will they be the last to know when it recovers? Very likely. Consumer confidence is often a lagging indicator. And well it might be, since unemployment rates are expected to climb for months after the economy has resumed growing. The chart here, excerpting results from a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted late last month, shows plenty of Americans are scared about their own financial prospects. In fact, the “frightened” number is sharply higher than the 18 percent feeling that way in a poll fielded last April—i.e., when the country was going into recession instead of (as is now hoped) coming out of one.

When military types refer to troop deployments as “boots on the ground,” some company has made the non-metaphorical boots the troops are wearing. One such company, Danner, wanted to salute the soldiers who wear its products—hence the ad referring to Osama bin Laden, a name most marketers have no good reason to invoke. Robley Marketing of Portland, Ore., created the piece.

Making one’s “ex” feel bad is all well and good, but it plays little part in keeping us fit. In an online poll by Self, respondents were asked what motivates them to work out at a gym. Seventy percent cited “feeling good about myself”; 24 percent mentioned “getting rid of stress.” Just a handful spoke of “being the envy of all my friends” (3 percent) or “making my ‘ex’ want me again” (2 percent).

If PSAs work, night owls must be better-behaved than the rest of us—more likely to use seat belts or to talk with their kids about drugs, less likely to smoke or to leave guns lying around without locks. The reason is simple: A disproportionate amount of the airtime TV networks donate for public-service ads falls between midnight and 6 a.m. A Kaiser Family Foundation study says 43 percent of donated airtime is in this late-night period, while 9 percent is in prime time.