Forget your political affiliations or how mad you are. I’m actually a liberal minded person. Will we remember the “Occupy” brand five years from now? If it’s the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, has it achieved the same connection and passion with their followers? A clear and confused NO!!!
In NYC, the Occupy Wall Street had some early passion and it started to make the news. People were clearly upset that during the recessions of the last few years, mad that the rich didn’t suffer, and even more mad that the evil bankers didn’t suffer. The stats around 99-1 are very interesting and highlight a problem with Capitalism if not controlled. Capitalism still has a place, but needs checks and balances.
In terms of looking at Occupy as a brand, let’s keep in mind that Brands move from Indifferent to Like It to Love and then a Brand for Life. It seems that Occupy, quickly connected with a nerve among the people and moved quickly to the Like It stage, gaining very quick awareness. Polls in early October showed strong support for the movement—much stronger than the Tea Party. But then what? Occupy as a brand is really just an idea at this point, but has yet to really turn into a movement. It’s something that people want to latch onto. It’s a promise, a concept, the hope of a movement. All Brands are really just a promise—but it’s the best of brands can take that promise and clearly articulate their difference and then deliver that promise in a consistent manner. Occupy can’t right now, and is at risk of diminishing to the point where people once connected at the early days are just falling back into the Indifferent camp. The Occupy brand appears to be losing steam. More recent polls have shown a steady decline and people are ready to move on.
So where did things go so wrong, in such a short period?
- No Consistent Message: The early Occupiers refused to lay down the core message. Because it was a grass roots movement, they didn’t want to dictate to others how they should feel. They welcomed all, with all types of bitter messages. So what happens to a brand that has a vague message or too many messages? Nothing gets through to the consumer. That’s advertising 101. Even those who moved to the Like It stage were looking for direction that would take them to the Love it Stage. But there was nothing. Even the Wikipedia page on the Occupy movement can’t really articulate it in one sentence. On the other hand, The Tea Party has one defining message: Taxes are Too High and our Government is wasting our money. They’ve stuck to it, refusing to get into political debates connecting to social policies, abortion, capital punishment etc. That gives the people who are mad about taxes something to stay connected to. The Tea Party movement now looks like it has a lasting power as a brand.
- The Occupy Brand Spread Too Fast, Too soon to where it didn’t Make Sense Anymore. The Occupying Wall Street which is the symbolic place of evil bankers and CEO’s walking off with the money makes sense. But that message resonates less when it spreads to Occupy Toronto where that same thing didn’t happen, or Occupy Portland or Occupy Vancouver or even Occupy Kingston Ontario. While I’m sure the Occupy movement was excited to see it spread to so many places, it does feel like a retailer spreading their franchises too fast too soon.
- Those Occupying Changed Dramatically and it Impacts the Emotional Connection: The original Occupy Wall Street projected a groundswell of “Average Americans” upset with the system. People who had been burned and were “mad as hell and not going to take it”. More recently, we’ve started to see Unions get involved—I get that they aren’t in the 1%, but they’ve shared and benefited in the same way as the bankers and CEOs. Bail outs to Auto Giants kept Union jobs alive at $38 an hour to watch a machine put molding on the side of Buick. The entry of Unions looks bad on the original groundswell idea. And recently, there’s been a drug overdose in Vancouver and looting reported in many cities near the occupations. It now looks like a bunch of Teenagers or Hippies, not your “Average Americans”. This change makes it harder for the average person to stay emotionally connected and while people were at the Like It Stage looking to move to the Love It stage, many are now falling back to the Indifferent. Polls now show most people support “clearing out the occupiers” in their cities.
- The Occupy Brand Never got to the Action Stage: Classic marketing plans have a vision and mission, which is half articulated. But what about the strategies, tactics and executional plan? People are protesting that change is needed, but then no action plan is developed to make change happen? People are screaming that the gap between rich and poor in the US is real and something needs to be done. If Occupy wants to be a brand that continues, it needs an action plan. Looking at the traditional brand funnel, they’ve generated the awareness and consideration but that’s purely a rational connection for consumers. There is nothing to enable consumers to really take action. Are they using social media? Have they connected into a political movement with a leader, policies, candidates and even a few wins? Is there a bill being sent forth in the name of the Occupy movement? The Tea Party has all that and it’s what is keeping their consumers connected to their brand. The Tea Party scored points among their followers this summer by forcing Obama into a corner of cutting spending.
Unfortunately, the Occupy Brand looks like it’s a leaderless, rudderless brand in free fall. There’s nothing for consumers to hang on to. People are back to Indifferent. And sadly, it could be gone by Christmas when we begin to drive that wheel of capitalism again–one more attempt to spend our way out of the recession. In 9 more years, on one of those “Decade In Review” shows, someone will mention “Occupy” as the big thing of 2011 and we’ll all smile and say “oh yeah, I remember that”.