[Debate] (Fwd) Campaigning for rebellion at work... uh oh, Ad Man as new ally
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Jul 10 08:45:22 BST 2012
(Damn:/turning a pro-worker theme on its head to serve the corporate interest. “It’s an effort by management to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street spirit and redirect it to promote its product”)/
NY Times July 7, 2012
In Ads, the Workers Rise Up ... and Go to Lunch
By TANZINA VEGA
The woman had had enough. Amid ringing phones and clicking keyboards she
climbs up on her desk and shouts through her speakerphone: “I have 47
vacation days. That’s insane.”
“Let’s take back our summer!” she yells as she raises a sign over her
head with the phrase “Vacation Now” on it. “Who’s with me?” A handful of
employees applaud. The rest look away.
The scene, echoing a pivotal sequence in the 1979 film “Norma Rae,” is
not a union recruiting pitch but instead is part of a television ad for
the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, from a campaign called
“Take Back Your Summer.” Other big advertisers like McDonald’s and
Coca-Cola are also tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to
sell products portrayed as minor luxuries.
The jobs report released Friday — showing only 80,000 jobs created in
June — reinforced a bleak outlook for the nation’s unemployed. For those
lucky enough to have work, the conventional wisdom has been “Keep your
head down; don’t make waves.”
But marketers are urging workers to commit small acts of so-called
rebellion — like taking a vacation, or going on a lunch break.
That’s the message McDonald’s sent this spring with a campaign called,
“It’s your lunch. Take it.” Meant to promote the Premium Chicken
Sandwich and the Angus Third Pounder Deluxe burger, it included tag
lines like “A lunch revolution has begun,” “It’s time to overthrow the
working lunch” and “A sesame seed of revolt has been planted.”
In one television advertisement, a woman gets up from her desk and
announces, “I’m going to lunch.” Her co-workers try to dissuade her,
telling her that the days of taking lunch are long gone.
In a scene reminiscent of “Jerry Maguire,” an inspired colleague stands
up and says, “I’m going with her.” The music swells, he tears off the
lanyard around his neck and adds, “I don’t want to be chicken, I want to
Geoff McCartney, vice president and creative director at DDB Chicago,
the agency that worked on the campaign, said the ads were based on a
simple precept: “that busy people should take some time for a decent lunch.”
“Work-life balance is really at a tipping point,” he said. “People don’t
have a break for lunch, and they feel like they can’t take one for
Marketers are adopting the theme of workers’ rights at a time when
unions themselves are confronting declines in membership and influence.
In effect, some labor experts say, they are turning a pro-worker theme
on its head to serve the corporate interest.
“It’s an effort by management to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street spirit
and redirect it to promote its product,” said Harry Katz, dean of the
Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “They are
using it in a somewhat manipulative way.”
Nevertheless, the appeals to downtrodden workers keep coming. If a mere
lunch break or a weeklong vacation is not enough of a respite, workers
can enter a contest called “Take the Year Off,” sponsored by Gold Peak Tea.
The tea brand, owned by Coca-Cola, will pay $100,000 to the winner to
take a year off work to do whatever he or she pleases. Contestants have
to describe how they would use their time. Gold Peak will narrow the
entries to five finalists, and fans of the brand on Facebook will vote
for the winner.
Images from the Facebook page show office workers under various states
of duress. In one photo, a man in a suit rests his head in his hands as
paperwork piles up around him. In another, a woman is seen kneeling
against a file cabinet, her mouth open in a scream of desperation.
A mock classified ad on the Facebook page calls for a “self-starter who
performs well under zero stress.”
Chris Johnston, who heads United States tea brands at Coca-Cola North
America, said the images were meant to have some fun and offer relief to
“We know people are stressed out right now, and we like to think of Gold
Peak Tea as the perfect antidote,” Mr. Johnston said.
Indeed, the tone for many of the advertisements is light and funny — a
more effective advertising technique than focusing solely on price or
promotional offers, according to research by Nielsen.
“You can make a connection when you laugh; you can make a connection
when they tug at your heartstrings,” said James Russo, the vice
president for global consumer insights at Nielsen. “That is the single
most important dynamic.”
Ads that focus on overall value to the consumer — showing that a product
is both healthy and affordable, for example — also do well in tough
economic times, Mr. Russo said. “The McDonald’s ads work because they
focus on the value of the meal and the value of a person’s time,” he said.
Sentimentality is also effective in a recession, according to Nielsen.
An ad campaign for Huffy plays on both sentimentality and rebellion,
encouraging adults to reclaim the joys of adulthood from the demands of
“Adulthood is the bully who stole your bike. Take it back,” reads one ad
featuring a woman on a bicycle in a park. Behind her, in the distance,
are towering piles of dirty dishes.
“What advertising isn’t about escaping these days?” said Scott Morgan,
the president of Brunner, the agency that worked on the campaign for Huffy.
The core target for the campaign is women 30 to 49 years old. “At 4 mph
it can outrun anything,” reads another ad showing a woman leaning on her
bicycle in the middle of a field of baskets full of laundry. A third ad
reads, “Put yourself on your to-do list.”
“It’s just a great way to escape that day-to-day, nose-to-the-grindstone
experience,” said Ray Thomson, the executive vice president for
marketing and product development at the Huffy Corporation. “People feel
a great need to kind of take a breath and say, ‘Hey look, I need to
focus on my family and look for economical ways to have fun with my
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