Rohit Bhargava, who heads up Global Strategy & Planning at Social@Ogilvy, made a powerful presentation at The National Retailer Federation’s Shop.org conference last month titled “12 Big Trends Changing Retail.”
Bhargava’s 97-page presentation (embedded below) leads with an image from Occupy Wall Street‘s 2011 occupation of Zuccotti Park, followed by a chart on income inequality and slides with examples of corporate messaging misbehavior. Bhargava correlates the fall of brand “believability” with the 2008 financial crisis and poses the question: “can social media really solve the problem?”
This presentation was directed at retailers — no-nonsense, bottom line-oriented folk. Few likely give a whit about Occupy, but most understand the implications of the message on the featured OWS sign:
IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S US
I wasn’t at Shop.org, so I don’t know whether Bhargava’s presentation was heckled, wildly applauded, or completely ignored. But Bhagharva and Ogilvy should be commended for acknowledging the OWS zeitgeist and putting it in the faces of a room full of B2C retailers who don’t likely go to Shop.org to expose themselves to explicit critiques of the style of capitalism our society practices today.
We have arrived at a time when even retailers — risk-averse souls whose most compelling personal agenda item is to survive Q4 — must take account of today’s new zeitgeist and choose sides. Are you with “the people?” or are you with Wall Street? Do you pledge allegiance to customers or to shareholders?
Brands must choose, and a few are already taking the lead. Case in point: the anti-Wall Street message driving Nationwide Insurance’s new ad campaign.
More Occupy-influenced campaigns will surely follow, for the new zeitgeist provides great opportunities for smart brands to “occupy” relevancy, truthfulness, and believability.