|What AdLand and Occupy Wall Street Have in Common
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
"We're not so different, you and I."
At least that is what the advertising community is saying to the 99 Percent and Occupy Wall Street protesters. When we look into the core beliefs of the movement that took 2011 by storm, it is not hard to see that AdLand and Occupy Wall Street have a common enemy in this swirling economy. History shows that the advertising community rose and became prosperous as the middle class grew. And now we see, as the income disparity widens between the 1 percent and the 99 percent, the advertising dollars for brands and media that cater to the middle are dwindling. That positive correlation is not something advertising professionals find comforting, and therefore find themselves fighting for the same basic ideas as Occupy.
Edward Tenner of The American wrote a nice piece talking about why jumping on advertising is a misguided perspective. Tenner explains why people who are against corporations should not be against advertising, for advertising has been the arena where many like-minded people have made a living and brought important causes to light. From green and liberal causes, shaking up the political landscape with controversial ads, to artists re-purposing photographs and writers like Salman Rushdie and Don DeLillo writing copy, advertising is not the faceless enemy anti-corporate people think.
Tenner then comments on the partnership Lasn of AdBusters and Occupy WS has formed. First, he notes that Occupy originally formed out of AdBuster's Twitter feed. Then, it turned out, Lasn had signed up to edit the "economics book of the future" for the Occupy scene. Thankfully, Tenner concludes his coverage of Lasn and AdBusters by saying that no matter how you frame it, "anti-advertising IS advertising." If you're fighting fire with fire while proclaiming how much you hate fire, the placement of the hatred must be an issue.
Then the author brought up an interesting quote from Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon was defending science fiction when he said that 90% of everything is crud. This certainly rings a bell with us (and Tenner as well) when we talk about the lack of creativity in advertising. The fact that we have to weave through the bad to get to the good is frustrating, and it seems that the "cream rises to the top" mantra no longer applies. But advertising is crucial for the economic system we know and "love" in the United States. Advertising has done more good than bad, and hating advertising in a sense goes against the very ways that Occupy Wall Street got popular. Using social media, web video, and carefully planned messages isn't anti-advertising. It's advertising.
So to our cousins in the Occupy Movement, fight on. But take easy on the friendly fire, okay?
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