Thursday, June 14, 2012

Nepotism and Consumer Facts

The last episode of this season’s Mad Men ended with Don Draper employing nepotism to secure his wife a featured spot in a television shoe commercial. During my tenure as an editor and publisher I practiced nepotism four times, placing Dan when he was three years old in a Pac-Man sweatshirt for a picture accompanying a story we did on licensed merchandise, a second time 10 months later later dressing Dan and 13-month-old Ellie in kids’ overalls for an article on childrenswear, a third time five months later posing Ellie in a stretchie for an advertising supplement for Gerber baby products, and the last time enlisting Gilda’s sister’s family for an advertising supplement on activewear.

That last bit of nepotism turned out to be part of a cruel exchange of modeling time for a few pieces of apparel. The supplement was going to run in early spring, so we needed to shoot in January. Outdoors. By the ocean. Barbara’s family at the time lived in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. We agreed to photograph them one sunny day. 

Sunny it was. But with the wind chill it was below 20 degrees on the beach. The activewear tops and bottoms provided scant protection to the biting cold for Barbara, her husband and their three children, ages 5, 10 and 12. I know because I was out there on the beach as well. Bundled up in my winter coat, hat, earmuffs and gloves. Freezing my bejeezus off. We had to stop shooting after about 45 minutes. The photographer’s camera froze. 

As long as we’re talking media and advertising, here are some interesting “facts” culled from several press releases and articles:

According to Buyology, Inc., a market research firm that studies “the deeper, non-conscious, 85% of human decision-making that drives customer preference for brands,” the political differences between Democrats and Republicans extend to the consumer brands they prefer. For example, in the category of most desired coffee shop, Democrats favor Starbucks; Republicans savor Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Among the 200 brands studied by Buyology, here’s how the parties split on seven other categories: 
Most desired car—Jeep for Dems, BMW for GOP
Most desired insurance—Progressive for Dems (could they have been influenced by the name?), Allstate for GOP
Most desired electronics—Sony for Democrats, Sharp for GOP
Most desired TV channel—Animal Planet for Dems, History Channel for GOP (figures)
Most desired restaurant—Wendy’s for Dems, Subway for GOP
Most desired gaming system—Wii for Dems, Xbox for GOP

Democrats and Republicans found common ground on the following: Coca-Cola as their favorite beverage, Visa their most desired financial service, Google their most desired Internet brand, Apple the most desired technology and Olay the most desired beauty brand.

Here’s what passes as startling news these days: A survey by Harris Interactive of 2,212 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, done on behalf of, found nearly three-in-four (72%) would be more likely to buy organic food items if they were less expensive than regular grocery items. 

Duh! How’s that for discovering consumers would buy something if it cost less?

By the way, according to Grocery Headquarters magazine, 52% of dads say they are the primary food shopper in their households. I’ve been part of that majority for years, even before retirement.

With Father’s Day approaching this Sunday, another coupon Web site,, is out with a survey claiming 77% of adults feel moms receive more attention on Mother’s Day than dads do on Father’s Day. Moreover, just 54% of the 1,005 adults surveyed jointly with Ipsos Public Affairs typically purchase a gift for dad, compared with 71% of survey respondents who tend to buy Mother's Day gifts for mom. 

The numbers sound reasonable to me. The preferred Father’s Day gift, said 40% of the men surveyed, was quality time with the family, such as an outing or dinner. I guess I’m normal—when Gilda asked me earlier today what I wanted to do on Father’s Day I suggested eating out. And that’s from someone fortunate enough to be married to a gourmet cook.