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On the Average, Surveyors Have Des Moines' Number

March 09, 1989|DEBORAH CHRISTENSEN

If you want to know what the average American is thinking, marketing experts say, head for Des Moines. It seems that residents of the Iowa capital are surveyed by phone more often per capita than people anywhere else in the nation, according to a Connecticut company that sells phone numbers to market researchers. "Des Moines is considered kind of average, your typical U.S. metro kind of thing," said Beth Wallace, a spokeswoman for Survey Sample Inc. "Our customers want average metro areas." The term "average" doesn't sit too well with some of the folks in Des Moines. Said Des Moines Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Debra Steilen: "We would say that people care what Des Moines residents think and leave it at that."

If you ask for directions in Marietta, Ga., you're likely to be told to keep going till you see the Big Chicken. The 63-foot-tall bird atop a fried chicken restaurant has been a local landmark for more than 20 years. So a recent suggestion that it be moved down the road to Smyrna evoked anguished cries of fowl play. John Patterson, Symrna's city administrator, asked Kentucky Fried Chicken Corp. to move the bird to a new fast food outlet planned there. The company said it would consider the idea. But mayors in both cities panned the idea. Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon said he was satisfied with his city's landmark, a clock tower, and saw no need to bring in "their pigeon-dropping Big Chicken." As for Marietta, Mayor Vicki Chastain said: "I'm sure all the City Council members would throw themselves in front of whatever vehicle would move it."

Last March, Greg Cail's parents read an article about two Canadian youths who gave up television for a year. They bet their son, who watched TV for several hours a day, $500 that he couldn't do the same. They predicted he wouldn't last a week. But the 11-year-old from Brookfield, in Nova Scotia, spent the last 12 months doing puzzles and coaxing family members to play cards or other games--when they weren't watching TV. And his abstinence finally paid off. "I wanted the money," Greg said. And what did he buy with his winnings? A new color TV.

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