Published October 14, 2011
This Occupy Wall Street Movement has been brought to you by Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
"The Ben & Jerry's board of directors...wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement," the company said in a news release this week.
The ice-cream maker has yet to name an official product for the protest. But I'm dreaming of a new chunky swirl called "Occu-Pie Walnut."
Meantime, a lesser-known merchandiser, New York City-based Condomania, is selling "Occupy Condoms." They sport the slogan: "We won't be screwed!" But doesn't this bold declaration essentially negate the need for a condom?
The movement has revved up like a race car, and what every racing team needs is a solid portfolio of corporate sponsors. I'm talking logos, jingles, branding, marquees, emblems, labels and imprints emblazoned amid the throngs of protesters/consumers on the streets of major cities, coast to coast and around the world.
It is through the power of advertising and sponsorship that corporations eventually co-opt everything. And this movement is now big enough, and the economy is now desperate enough, for the world's best-known companies to follow Ben & Jerry's lead.
Need a new tent? "Always low prices" at Wal-Mart.
Tag-board for your new "Stop Corporate Greed" sign? How about Staples? "That was easy."
New shoes for marching? Nike even plays the marching song: "You say you want a revolution."
I don't know what naming rights for this protest would cost, but even in communist countries they say everything has its price. I like the sound of "The Wells Fargo Occupy Wall Street Movement." But Citigroup Inc. (C) already may have a leg up on a naming-rights deal.
Citi's CEO, Vikram Pandit, said at a breakfast meeting Wednesday that he'd be happy to meet with protesters, and he added that their sentiments were "completely understandable," according to reports by Bloomberg and Fortune magazine.
"Trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that is Wall Street's job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust," Pandit said.
What better way to do it than a corporate sponsorship? Doesn't "Occupy Wall Street By Citigroup" sound more friendly? And wouldn't America make a faster comeback if corporations would simply pay people to protest against them?
Bill Gross, co-founder of Pimco, one of one of the world's largest investment firms, put his jingle on Twitter on Tuesday: "Class warfare by the 99%? Of course, they're fighting back after 30 years of being shot at."
Here are a few other messaging ideas I have for companies that might want to get behind this anticorporate movement:
Bank of America: "If you like anarchy and chaos, you'll love the court filings in our foreclosure cases."
Samuel Adams: "Boston beer: Never as harsh as Boston police."
Netflix: "We stopped saying "Qwikster." You stop should stop staying "Bankster.'"
United Airlines: "We love people with too much baggage."
General Electric: "Thanks for paying your taxes so we don't have to."
BP: "Why does there always have to be this Gulf between us?"
Dr. Pepper: "Be a Pepper. Don't be pepper sprayed."
Blackberry: "Can you please try texting whatever it is that you're so mad about, again."
Sotheby's: "Next time you unwashed hippie activists go barging into to one of our fine auctions, buy something."
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.: "Maybe some day our CEO James Dimon will drop by your house."
99c Only Store: "The 99% will eventually shop here."
Irish Spring: "Fresher than Arab Spring. Better than American Fall."
Capital One: "What's in your wallet? What? Someone stole your wallet?"
Goldman Sachs: "You won't get arrested for obstructing the Brooklyn Bridge after we sell it to you."
If you've got ideas for potential sponsors of this movement, email them to me and I'll publish them on my blog. Even the cause of anti-capitalism needs what capitalism provides best: commercial marketing.
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. Contact Al at firstname.lastname@example.org or tellittoal.com)