Saturday, November 19, 2011
It is said that good advertising anticipates -- and acknowledges -- social trends. [Apple's "Think Different" campaign comes to mind.] But bad advertising? Clueless. Consider Bank of America's new "Together, we are the 100%" campaign, which tries to monetize Occupy Wall Street's anti-greed movement, if not simply "re-image" the bank, which is under fire for improper foreclosures and hiking debit card fees.
The bank kicked off the new campaign earlier this month and promoted it on Thursday -- Occupy Wall Street's nationwide Day of Action, which successfully orchestrated protest marches across the country to celebrate the movement's two-month annniversary. BofA's ads are part of the bank's new image campaign that began in September across 12 of the bank's larger U.S. markets, including New York City. Says Bank spokesman T.J. Crawford: "The campaign aims to deliver the facts about Bank of America's local impact. Sharing the work we do and the critical role we play is more important than ever."
But many Occupy supporters are not impressed. Influential BoingBoing co-editor Zeni Jardin yesterday shared some Twitpics of the bilingual ads (including those above), and the images went viral. "I find BofA's new 100% ads positively revolting," she tweeted to a chorus of hundreds of RTs and thousands of thumbs-ups in the Twittersphere.
BOA isn't the only company trying to leverage the "Occupy US" theme locally. Major World, one of the nation's largest used car dealerships, launched a series of 60-second radio spots last week that invite listeners to "occupy us" for the "best deals on used cars in the nation." A spokesman for the Queens-based dealership said today the company has received "dozens of calls" from potential customers since the ads were placed but declined to characterize the feedback.
Okay, it's a used car dealership. But it is unlikely Major's and BofA's ads will be the last Occupy-themed campaigns to launch. Marketing sources across the financial sector have told Cause Global that OWS isn't just changing the political conversation; it's also re-shaping the focus of many ad campaigns being planned for 2012.
Let's hope marketers trying to exploit the Occupy meme will do a better job of it going forward. In today's social media world, smart marketing isn't about the brand so much as it is about making customers the heroes. It's about conveying shared values by supporting customers in authentic, sustainable ways -- not on-the-spot sloganeering. Occupy? Sure --it, too, is a brand. But part of its appeal is that it's the "anti-brand" -- not business-as-usual.
"We want more than slogans," says Occupy protester Nancy Popp, one of some 200 demonstrators arrested Thursday in Manhattan's financial district. "Don't give us slogans and fine print. Deal with us. Hear us. I mean, do they really think an ad campaign is going to make us open bank accounts at Bank of America? Maybe it's true that there's a sucker born every minute, but with social media, the suckers aren't the customers anymore. The message of Occupy? No more bullshit. Are these brands even listening?"
Seen any further examples of Occupy-in-advertising? Let us know. We'll publish them when we see them.
-- Marcia Stepanek
[Photos by BoingBoing.com]