Hundreds participate in Occupy Wall Street General Assembly
What a morning! Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to frame Occupy Wall Street participants as dirty and unsanitary and to use the slander as a ruse to evict us from Liberty Plaza failed miserably. Not only that, in classic political jujitsu, organizers used the ploy to catalyze even broader popular and political support.
With the threat of eviction, yesterday local and national organizations put out the call to come to Liberty Plaza this morning and to call the Mayor. By 6am this morning the crowd had swelled into the thousands. By 6:30am the Deputy Mayor had announced that the “cleanup” was off — at least for today. And the prospect of trying something similar anytime soon probably doesn’t look very appealing either to Bloomberg or to Brookfield Office Properties, the owner of the park (the park’s usage is public). Brookfield’s involvement in the subprime market is starting to generate some attention since their decision to mess with the anti-Wall Street occupation.
This is the perfect build-up for tomorrow’s actions in NYC and the international day of action. This thing is really building, and who knows how far it will go. Time Magazine just conducted a poll that found “54 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the protests, while just 23 percent have a negative impression.”
That’s certainly better than the Tea Party has ever performed.
I keep having these “wow this is really happening” moments. I took the train down to NYC on Wednesday morning and plugged into the press team here. I’ve been swamped with that and too busy to write much here, but I’ll be tweeting (follow me here) when I can, and I hope to write more soon. I’ll be here for at least the next week or so.
Branding, in the advertising world, is imbuing a company or product with positive associations inside the consumer’s mind. Marlboro, for example, has so successfully associated cowboys and the wild frontier with their product (cigarettes), that some of their ads don’t even mention the name “Marlboro.” They don’t need to, because the product comes to mind automatically at the sight of the now-famous cowboy image.
In the late 1990s Rainforest Action Network (RAN) carried out some very effective negative branding campaigns, which many powerful people took notice of. RAN realized that a positive brand is one of the most important assets of a corporation. A tarnished brand can repel consumers and scare away investors, as Home Depot learned the hard way. RAN effectively painted Home Depot as a reckless destroyer of old growth forests and rainforests, until the company committed to discontinue using old growth forests for lumber. (A few other companies followed, like dominoes, just at the threat of a possible RAN campaign against their brand name.)
It was around then that I got to thinking about the brands of the social justice organizations I worked with. A brand is essentially the memories and associations that tend to come to mind in the popular imagination at the mention of your name. In this sense, individuals can even have “brands” (though we usually call this a reputation). What associations were coming to mind at the mention of different social change organizations? What about at the mention of broader labels such as activism, environmentalism, feminism, socialism, the peace movement, etc.? If a tarnished brand hurt a corporation’s ability to move product or attract investors, perhaps our tarnished brands were part of the reason so many social change groups were having such a difficult time attracting more participants.