The Occupied Wall Street Journal, Marketing Message and Boobs

Occupy Wall Street

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A couple weeks ago I had the distinct “pleasure” of roaming around the private park where the “Occupy Wall Street” protest is taking place. To be honest, I’ve pretty much given up on watching the news at this point, so I didn’t hear a thing about it until I went to an open mic night at Union Square.

In the midst of me eating my delicious chocolate crepes and soaking in random strangers complaining about random things, a guy got up to the microphone to let everyone know that the Occupy Wall Street is going strong and we should check it out.

He described himself as a libertarian and talked about how changes need to be made to the way Wall Street works.

I thought to myself “Hmm…I’m a libertarian…and…I guess we do need changes to the way things are working on Wall Street…might as well go check it out.”

What I saw really bothered me.

These people need a marketing lesson!

Because, let’s face it, protests are a form of marketing. It’s all about trying to get your ideas noticed. In a more forceful way than a super bowl commercial, sure, but it is still all about sending a message.

So where did they go wrong?

Here’s a few marketing lessons the Occupy Wall Street folks need to learn…

Get a Freaking Message First!

The very first thing I noticed, was the lack of one consistent message.

There were a multitude of signs. Signs are great, if they all are trying to deliver the same message.

I saw everything from “We are the 99%” to “Corporations aren’t people” to signs protesting the death of Troy Davis.

Power in numbers doesn’t work if the numbers aren’t trying to accomplish the same thing.

But I get it, they were angry! Angry at Wall Street. Angry at the government. In short, angry at the system.

A Bit of Congruity Wouldn’t Hurt!

Here are a couple more signs that I saw:

“Fox News lies!”

Can't argue with that. Go ahead...try.

What’s the definition of “lies”? If they lie so does every other network. We don’t have news in this country, we have “analysis” – which boils down to opinion. And that’s fine I guess, that’s what people want to see. But just because someone has a different opinion than you doesn’t mean they are lying.

If you’re going to be protesting “the system” maybe you should take note of the fact that the Fox Business Network has hosts like Judge Napolitano who’s whole show revolves around government abuses.

And then there’s John Stossel who is a staunch libertarian – hosting libertarian presidential candidates on his show (I saw some pro-Ron Paul people at the rally as well).

And they had Glen Beck…and if you’ve seen a minute of his show then you know he just wanted to bring everything down – including the Federal Reserve Bank.

Where is a good leftist military coupe when you need one?

Really? You live in a place that allows you the luxury of sitting in a park next to a drum circle of people tripping on whatever they smoked and you want a military coup? You know what happens in a military coup?

No more luxury to sit around protesting in a park next to a drum circle of people tripping on whatever they smoked.

Start with a Base!

The “all over the place” nature of the protest is understandable, of course. There is no base.

What I saw was a mix of activists (people who protest just to protest), college students looking for a good reason to party and homeless people who were there for the free pizza.

What kind of base is that? How are you going to get that mix of people to send a direct message to anyone?

You can’t!

Make Up “Realistic” Stats!

The protesters claim to be “the 99%.”

Well, there’s lies, there’s damn lies and then there’s statistics. But if you’re going to make something up, make it more realistic.

I realize the 99% is used for dramatic effect. But I found myself very annoyed with this protest. I guess that puts me at the 1%?

Great, I feel special :).

Cow Lovers Shouldn’t Eat Burgers!

If you’re going to be protesting big corporations, don’t get caught using their products in broad day light.

iPhone use was rampant. People were “Facebooking” updates on their iPads. Others were “Googling.”

Did I miss something? Did Apple, Google and Facebook suddenly become small family companies?

That’s like finding an animal rights activist eating a “Baconator” at Wendy’s. That doesn’t look good for your cause.

Don’t Piss Off Your Audience!

If you’re going to protesting the big evil corporations to save the working class, at least try to not hurt the working class in the process.

Sure, your protest is nice and all, but don’t block the street for people that have to go to work. They have families to support. They have to live in a reality where they can’t sit around doing nothing all day because they have responsibilities.

Most people do have responsibilities…THAT is the 99%. Or, maybe we should go with something like 87%?

I would also like to see how much tax payer money is going towards outlining the park with police officers.

Police officers that can’t be elsewhere in case something serious happens because they are standing around watching a drum circle – just like the homeless guys that are there for the pizza.

Choose Your Delivery Method Wisely!

Whether you agree with the protesters or not (on one of the many points they are trying to get across), the delivery method of their message isn’t going to lead anywhere.

The bottom line is, while Wall Street may have fucked things up, they didn’t actually do anything illegal. The problem lies in the laws. And that is where efforts should be focused.

News flash! The delivery channel of your message matters!

Get on social media, inform people of your opinion, collect signatures, try and change laws. Get active and productive!

Sitting around outside with signs isn’t going to change a thing. People don’t take protests seriously unless they get violent. And that’s the last thing we want.

Topless Women!

There were topless women running around this park.

I got nothing for this one. Sex sells. There should be more topless women at any protest :).

I strongly believe that boobs can solve just about any problem.

Angry College Kids should Go Back to Class

Here’s a disclaimer: I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m totally going to psychoanalyze these protesters anyway.

As I’ve stated before, there were three types of people I noticed at this rally: activists, college students, and homeless people.

I don’t need to analyze the homeless. It’s clear they want free pizza (who is paying for this pizza anyway???).

The activists just need something to be passionate about. Kudos to you.

The college students were just looking for an excuse to hold a mini Woodstock. They were clearly tripping and jamming out to the drum circle.

And yes, maybe they were angry.

But are they really angry at Wall Street? Or are they angry at their parents who didn’t give them enough attention? It wouldn’t surprise me if most of their parents actually work on Wall Street.

Before holding a protest, these college kids should sit in on a marketing class to learn a thing or two.

…The topless chicks can stay.

  • Have you been following the Occupy Wall Street protests?
  • Am I missing something here? Or are you? 🙂
Image Credits: Julia La Roche for Business Insider

Eugene Farber

Eugene Farber is a former accountant, current cheese lover, a successful online entrepreneur and writer. If you have a online business, chances are it needs a content strategy. He can help you discover yours on his Content Strategy Blog.

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  • Bruce Sallan

    Eugene, I assume you also saw the way they are defecating in the streets, pissing anywhere, and otherwise taking joy in ruining local businesses – moms and pops that actually WORK which few of these pampered and spoiled KIDS do…they should go to Cuba. After all, isn’t it much better there? Or, go to Africa and do some good where there is REAL hardship! 

    • Eugene Farber

      Yes I saw. I saw a local news channel interviewing a local business owner who is suffering big time. Partially because people don’t want to go anywhere near the nasty park anymore so the businesses don’t get any more visitors. And partially because these protesters DEMAND to go inside and use the bathroom – and they wash themselves in there for hours and completely ruin the place.

      I don’t want to use the “go to Africa or Cuba” argument because there is always going to be a place that is worse than the U.S. And I think that people should have the right to speak and try to make changes for the better. I just think that these people aren’t going about it the right way. Nor do I think that that the changes some of these people want are going to make anything better (i.e. a military coupe). 

    • Dino Dogan

      Again, I have to disagree.

      Revolution is not pretty. Dissent is necessary.

      Didn’t George Washington say that there should be a complete overthrow of the government every 20 years?

      • Bruce Sallan

        What do you mean, “Again???” – as far as I know this is the first time we’ve “disagreed” but that is cool – isn’t that what is best about America? You can be wrong, but I’ll still like you!

        • Dino Dogan

          I was also the disagreeing voice in the above comments..hence “again” 🙂

        • Eugene Farber

          Haha “you can be wrong, but I’ll still like you”. Definitely the criteria of a country worth living in. Love it.

          • Bruce Sallan

            You got it Eugene! Dino gets by on his facial hair!

      • Eugene Farber

        I agree that dissent is a necessary part of any democracy. That’s what makes it a democracy (although we don’t truly have a democracy, but whatever…). 

        But I don’t think we’re at a point where militant revolution is necessary. In fact, I think something crazy like lightning striking the same spot 15 times has to happen in order for a militant revolution to lead to something like we have today. 

        How many revolutions have happened in the history of the world…how many governments and countries like the U.S. have formed from those revolutions – it’s not likely to happen again any time soon. Most of the time revolutions just lead to one dictator taking over another dictator. 

        I’m still astonished that so many brilliant people came together at once to form this country. Was it perfect? No. But it was still better than anything that existed at the time. 

        We should definitely remember what they said when forming this place and what their intentions were. Overthrowing the government every 20 years is actually a pretty darn good idea. But that can be done with term limits for EVERYONE in government – we don’t need to get torches and pitchforks involved.

    • barryrsilver

      Bruce, you realize you sound just like the “establishment” commenting on the smelly long hair hippies protesting the war in Viet Nam. Having said that, using the public thoroughfare as a bathroom is not in my definition of civil disobedience.

  • Robert Dempsey

    Laws are created by politicians who are elected by the people. So if people really want change they need to mass together, vote for the people that will bring it about, and continue to support them while they do it.

    • Eugene Farber

      That’s true, and thats the beauty of this system. Although we don’t know truly who we are electing until they are in office, we only have to wait 4 or 6 years (depending on the position within the government) to kick them out. 

      Unfortunately people tend to just vote blindly for the incumbent, and then they wonder why things like this happen. There are career politicians who never rally live in the “real” world. I think there should be term limits on  all positions in government so the elected officials actually have to live in the normal world for a while.

      • Robert Dempsey

        I’ll +1 term limits for all offices. Being far removed from the people and deep in BS-ville can severely affect one’s judgement and limite their effectiveness for the “normal people” out there.

    • Dino Dogan

      Sorry boys, but I disagree.

      Politicians are NOT elected by the people. They are elected by corporate donors. Go ahead and try running for office without corporate sponsorship and you’ll see what I mean.

      Furthermore, laws are NOT made by politicians OR people, they are made my corporations who pay lobbyists who influence laws and policies.

      Fucked up world we live in, boys.

      • Eugene Farber

        Damn it Dino. We’re having a kumbaya moment over here. But unfortunately I can’t disagree with you. You can’t get elected without a huge bank roll. And you can’t get a huge bank roll without whoring yourself out to a company or two. 

        It’s definitely fucked up. But this is the best government a country can buy in the world 🙂

        • Dino Dogan

          It sounds like someone’s marketing message got through to you 😉

          • Robert Dempsey

            I love that sign “Shit is fucked up and bullshit.” That pretty much says it all. I need that in poster size on my wall. It’s as useable as “right on.”

        • Robert Dempsey

          I’ll agree that without a huge bankroll you can’t get elected. Gotta buy that TV time and I hear it’s pretty expensive these days…

      • Robert Dempsey

        Oh Dino you’re such an optimist! And I knew I could count on you for some fun.

        So what you’re saying (and let me paraphrase) is that people are fed a story via media enough until they more than believe it and then just do as they are told, which is elect the same crappy politicians over and over again? And then, to make it more fun, are kept docile with a few bones here and there so that they complain but never truly take change-oriented action?

        • Dino Dogan

          You’re just mad we havent fixed your posts yet. lol

          I promise, Dan is working on Triberr as we speak, and you are very high on his list.

          • Robert Dempsey

            I wasn’t going to bring that up but since you did make it happen!

            Seriously though…

  • Eugene Farber

    Thanks for putting me in the hall of fame prior to retirement Dino! Much appreciated 🙂

    • Dino Dogan

      Retirement only in the Rolling Stones sense of the word, where you come back for the “last tour” again and again lol

  • Anne Parris

    Eugene, I couldn’t see a way to contact you privately, but I wanted to let you know it is “coup”. A coupe is a car. 

    • Eugene Farber

      I want to say that this is a direct transcription from the sign I read. But alas, I can not make that claim. My mistake 🙂

    • Dino Dogan

      Thats my bad, I edited the article, should have caught it. Good looking out, Anne. It’s all fixed up now.

  • Chuck Rylant

    This is an awesome article. The best and most accurate analysis I’ve seen of this yet! You’ve got a new follower. P.S. Oh and great marketing here. Tie in to current events and headline with sex. Brilliant. Love it!!

    • Eugene Farber

      Thanks Chuck! Just telling it how it is from the perspective of someone who was actually there. I feel like a lot of people have opinions but never really checked it out. 

      Of course, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been there so it may have changed (but I’m assuming the changes are just more people doing the same – and probably smells a bit worse :)). 

    • Dino Dogan

      Thnx Chuck.

      Thats Eugene’s handy work and while I disagree on several points, I thought it was a great article as well, so I published it.

      Thx for stopping by and leaving a comment. Much appreciated 🙂

  • Sean Phillip

    “The bottom line is, while Wall Street may have fucked things up, they didn’t actually do anything illegal. The problem lies in the laws. And that is where efforts should be focused.”… so your point is if someone takes advantage of hard working people and hurt them knowingly and willfully to line there already fat pocket books and its not illegal then its not their fault and shouldn’t be held accountable?  Would you have government micromanage every aspect of life ones life, making new laws to protect you or would having people grow up a bit with a bit of morality and responsibility be preferred?

    • Eugene Farber

      My point here Sean, is that laws exist to protect people. And no, I don’t want the government to micromanage at all, in fact quite the opposite. I want people to take responsibility for their own lives. 

      This country is a place where you have the opportunity to make of your life what you want to make of it. To make it on your own, that requires a lot of hard work and perseverance (and the willingness to fail). 

      The people holding Wall Street “responsible” by hanging out in the park and partying, in the meanwhile accomplishing nothing, could be hard at work making their own lives for themselves instead of trying to protest Wall Street to do it for them. 

      There are people who want Wall Street to pay for their school loans at this rally. That is each individuals responsibility, not Wall Street by any means. Don’t take on loans you can’t pay back. Just because you didn’t look into the details and blindly took on debt, that doesn’t mean someone else should pay it off for you. 

      Again, if anything this is the government’s problem, not Wall Street. School debt is the only debt you can’t get out of by filing bankruptcy. 

      For example, the other day I walked by the “Columbia School of Social Work.” Anyone paying Ivy League tuition to get a social work degree shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t make enough to pay off the debt. Either get a different degree, or don’t go to an Ivy League school and pay less…or of don’t go to school at all 🙂

      • Sean Phillip

        hmm, I hear you but let me read in between the lines and look at the broader picture from how I see it.

        We were brought up to believe laws exist to protect people, for the most part they do.  In reality however there are many laws that protect corporations, there are laws that have an intent but are used as a technicality to reach an end.  Its hard for people to take responsibility seriously when at every turn their government cheats and bends the rules, corporations cheat and bend the rules and for the most part they are being gouged for every cent they make.  I want people to be able to take responsibility I’m not sure you realize there are many who try and can’t or who tried and lost it all.  When responsibility fails you where do you go from there?  I know actions define a man, but many of these people are at an end or they see the end coming.  

        Does this country offer opportunity, yes it does, if you smart enough, have support from friends and family, money, and a good education.  If you don’t have those things, have been dealt a bad hand in life your taken advantage of for some those that see an opportunity in taking advantage of the underprivileged.  Its hard if not impossible to dig out of that in this country  

        There are a lot of stupid things being said and happening at this protest, but that is the message too.  You shouldn’t shy away from it.  If your college educated and think wall street should pay for your education then what does that say about our education system our society at large?  If your partying at a protest that does send a message, you are right that’s really shitty marketing, but this protest isn’t run by a corporation or ad agency.  These are real people demonstrating that something isn’t right.  Lets not hide something that at first glance doesn’t make sense.  As someone who knows marketing maybe take their message and clear it up for the haters on the right and at fox news, instead of criticize this movement help give it a voice.  You were there you could have asked what these people really meant and called out their bullshit to get to the truth.

        I have to say this isn’t the governments fault.  This is every Americans faults for letting the government get to this point.  These demonstrations are a start to fixing that mistake.

        • Eugene Farber

          Couldn’t agree with you more about the education system being broken. And this is coming from someone with a graduate degree. I actually wrote a whole post about how blogging can potentially be used a signal of expertise rather than a diploma. 

          But things won’t change due to this protest, and things won’t change if people keep going to school and paying the insane tuition prices. A social shift has to occur. 

          Instead of camping out and partying, these students need to try to get jobs (trust me, the jobs are out there!) and change the system from the inside. 

  • Sean Phillip

    Just because you people don’t like what you perceive to be as hippies doesn’t mean you should let the message slip you by… your at the shit end of this stick as well.

    • Eugene Farber

      Sean, I’m not letting their message slip by. If you read carefully I think that there does need to be change. This is not the way to do it though. 

      Where in that post did I say “hippies”? Are you writing this from you Mac Book from the park?And I hold no one responsible for myself except for me. 

      • Sean Phillip

        So what is the best way to do it?  Its so easy to criticize, but wheres your answer? Why not help give this movement a voice?

        and I can’t stand macs

        • Dino Dogan

          Corporations must die. At least in their current form. Thats the answer. And if they die by transforming themselves or die by our hand (dont buy their shit) it doesnt matter, as long as they die.

          -“Die” in a rite of passage kind of way.

          • Eugene Farber

            I think that the shift to a new economic system with small businesses is more possible than ever. Especially with social media. You don’t need millions to compete with a million dollar marketing budget (at least on a local scale). 

            As far as actually making a change…how about a mass boycott of the schooling system. Don’t go to school if you can’t afford it…and colleges will get the message eventually. 

            Get into the system and change from the inside.

  • Annie Sisk

    OK … I don’t agree with your take on the protests, Eugene, but I can’t argue with the marketing takeaway. I do think, however, there are things that transcend marketing and business. These protests would, in my humble opinion, qualify as one of those things. It’s a fascinating time to be alive, right? (Why am I reminded of the old saw about the Chinese “curse” – “may you live in interesting times”!)

    • Eugene Farber

      Hey Annie, every generation has it’s own thing…it’s always interesting to be alive :). 

      Some thing do transcend marketing and business, but when you are trying to get a message across to the masses…a little smart marketing can go a long way I think.

      Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I’m honestly interested to see who’s behind all this. Something like this takes A LOT of organization. And feeding all those people takes a lot of funding. 

    • Dino Dogan

      I think Jacob made a very valid point above. He said that lack of Marketing message is turning out to be a good thing. (see his comment above).

      I think I agree with that.

      • Eugene Farber

        It’s definitely creating more numbers for the “power in numbers” thing. I alluded to that in the post. Whether it’s effective or not remains to be seen. Makes them feel more empowered for the time being I guess 🙂

  • Karri Flatla

    I’m a Canadian. And a marketer. And yes, a conservative. This post rocks my world. And that’s all I’m gonna say.

    • Dino Dogan

      …ahhh…so whats this Canadia place you speak of? :-p

      • Karri Flatla

        Hi Dino! I’m in Lethbridge, Alberta. Couple hours south of Cow Town (Calgary) where I’ve lived also.

    • Bojan Djordjevic


  • Do more

    Good article. Dead on about the lack of a message. To answer your funding question, in NY, it is the unions… Not sure about SD and the other cities

    • Eugene Farber

      I’ll have to verify the union thing. But if it’s true I don’t think I’d be happy if I was in a union that this is the way my fees are being spent instead of things like health insurance for instance (or lower fees).

  • Jacob Varghese

    Some points

    1) The protests are spreading all over the US, Canada, Australia and beyond. So they HAVE struck a nerve even without your marketing tips. I don’t think a ‘look at me now look at your man’ kind of viral ad could motivate people in different parts of the world, in quite the same manner.

    2) The protesters that you observed, are probably not using FB and ipads to order Chanel products. But they are using them to spread the message. You may have to overlook that they are ordering pizza online though.

    3) The ‘no clear message’ helps them reach out to the many others who KNOW and SENSE there is something wrong. I think it is more effective than asking for a socialist takeover and isolating those, like me, who do not think that is a solution.
    You probably want to read about how the tea party movement was screwed up by a more astute ‘marketing’ strategy. 

    4) Only today I was lamenting the fact that none of the marketing heads were covering these events. You may not agree with what they are doing/saying but you HAVE to listen to them in order to know what the prevailing sentiment of the day is OR even to figure out if there IS a prevailing sentiment.

    You (probably) and I both know there is something wrong, these protests are allowing us to debate and probably figure out how we can make things better.

    Or do you want to leave that to the govt’s and financial players again?

    In closing, I am glad to see that your post has opened up a debate. You are doing much better than the ‘head in the sand’ approach, most marketing blogs have decided to adopt.

    • Dino Dogan

      Hi Jacob,

      You know…I was going to make a post as a response to this one. I disagree on several major points with Eugene, but like you, I think it’s an important thin to bring attention to and hash out.

      You’ve made some valid points here…thnx for saying it.

      • Eugene Farber

        I’d love to see a post in response 🙂

    • Eugene Farber

      Hi Jacob, 

      You make a few valid points here. And no, I definitely do not want to leave it up to the government or financial players…we know how that goes. 

      My point wasn’t that they are using their iPads and Facebook to order premium products, but rather they wouldn’t be able to spread the word without the products that large corporations produce.

      The sentiment there (and I heard A LOT of people talking there, and saw A LOT of sings) was that all big corporations are evil. So they either need to change the message/sentiment or risk being viewed as hypocrites. I think it’s OK to discriminate against CERTAIN corporations if that’s what you really mean – don’t bundle them all up in one group – or really boycott them if that’s what you really feel.

      I do agree there needs to be change, and I guess you’re right that at least they are getting the word out and creating a discussion. Although I would argue that there was already a discussion going on around the world, and in this country, about the current state of affairs – just maybe not to this extent. 

      In fact, what this may be doing to a small degree is turning the discussion away from the important talking points and turning it to a “what do you think about these protesters?” discussion. 

      I’m not going to say that my political views don’t factor into this at all. What most of these people (warning: generalization coming) are protesting for is for a system similar to the one that failed in Greece (and Europe in general) which led to violent protests there. Do we want protests to create a system that leads to violent protests? I don’t. 

      The conspiracy theorist inside me is just alarmed even more by the fact that there are so many ORGANIZED protests like these spreading. But that may be just me.

      Either way, I appreciate the comment and your views – and the fact that we CAN hold this discussion.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Chocolate crepes. Yummm! Really great lessons. I think the bigger issue is they don’t want to have a leader or anyone telling them what to protest. They just want to be the 99% who each have a voice. That said…the lesson about not using big corporation products is EXCELLENT!

    • Eugene Farber

      Oh yeah! From Max Brenner’s…ridiculously delicious. I was actually watching something the other day that said there’s multiple websites all claiming to be the leaders of the movement. It’s kind of strange…maybe I should start one too 🙂

      • Gini Dietrich

        I want chocolate crepes!

        • Eugene Farber

          I will send you 3 Max Brenner’s Crepes for a Giordano’s sausage pizza 🙂

          • Gini Dietrich

            Deal! Also. I quoted you at a party tonight.

          • Eugene Farber

            Quoted at a party? Woo! I think that means I hit the big time! 🙂  

            What did I say that was worth quoting?

  • John Garrett

    Well, Eugene I’d like to point out the critical flaw in your marketing strategy. I came over here for boobs and I really don’t feel that the initial promise of the headline was fulfilled here.

    Am I supposed to go out and find my own boobs to ogle? It is a mystery…

    I just don’t know about this country anymore.

    That said, I’d like to be out there where you are so I could witness this firsthand. I tend to agree with general spirit of the protestors. I feel the “they’re using corporate technology” argument is a bit disingenuous although I’ve seen some funny cartoons and photos regarding it.

    Maybe you could head back out there and grab some more photos of the current state of the protest?

    • Eugene Farber

      I may go out there and grab some photos when my new iPhone arrives. I think its great the the protesters feel so strongly about something (many things) to do what they’re doing. And I agree change needs to happen. I just really don’t think that this is the way to do it. 

      PS. Sorry about the false advertising. For an explanation of what happened…please reference the in-post picture :).

  • Anonymous

    While it’s always possible that I’m missing something, I’ think you’re further off. The mere fact that this is now a worldwide movement indicates OWS is doing more right than wrong. The fact that gov’t across the world are using police force to shut it down means that it’s struck a chord and for whatever reasons the powers that be want it to go away now. As we sit here 29 days since the first OWS rally, it’s clear that a lack of unique message has been a strength in building a strong coalition. OWS organizers will have to realize that as they craft a message, the more specific the message, the more losses from the broad base. I have a few suggestions, to’do’s as it were before they go message. (Shameless insertion of link to blogpost)
    For now the beauty of OWS is the message to politicos that after 30 years of being asleep at the switch, the electorate is finally angry enough to take to the streets. Once the electorate is in the streets, it’s a shart walk to the polls. The other really good thing is OWS has provided a (primarily) non violent outlet for this “free floating can’t tell you why I’m angry” anger. Compare with Greece recently and Bulgaria last year. That’s good so far, but it won’t be enough for much longer.

    • Eugene Farber

      Hey Barry, the lack of the one cohesive message being a strength may be true. But I don’t think that the world wide rallies are a result of OWS. As you said, protests have been occurring all over Europe. And it’s not limited to just Greece and Bulgaria. And again, the conspiracy theorist inside me asks “who is organizing all this?” 

      I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said it’s an outlet for “free floating” anger. I think a lot of college students are angry at the fact that they have a lot of debt and don’t have a job ready and waiting for them. 

      But not being that far removed from graduating college myself, I can tell you that there is a lot of people in this generation thinking that everything should be handed to them. Instead of complaining about not having a job, they should be out there applying for jobs. That’s how it works – a little personal responsibility goes a long way.

      I honestly don’t think that this protest will change anything the way it stands right now. But they DO have the right to protest whatever they want – that’s the beauty of this country.

    • Eugene Farber

      By the way, I took a look at your post. Even you mention that it’s time they tell the world EXACTLY what they stand for. 

      This is where their problem is going to come – how are they going to get so many people angry about so many different things to decide on one cohesive message? 

      That’s where the Tea Party succeeded AND failed. They had politicos talking about them too – so by your definition they made the big time. But they had one message – and that pissed a lot of people off.

      Once you have a solid message s*&t gets real, and the opposition gets a lot stronger.

      • Anonymous

        The Tea Party did hit the big time. The were able to put up candidates in 2010. Many won because the basic platform is very accessible. Some lost because beyond a basic platform they also put up some whackos. Not disrespect but Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle and Joe Miller are beyond quirky and colorful. As for OWS, they will lose members as they define meaning. As a pragmatic, I will miss the passion of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade, but that’s all I’ll miss from the fringes. The college kids are good for the protest. It’s tough for folks with families (and older bodies) to hang out all night. Recovery way too hard. The anger of the college kids is easily understood. They’ve been chasing a dream that has been hammered into them from early on. Get good grades, study hard (between parties) and you’ll get a good start. So they did that, took out loans and now they have a loan the size of mortgage but no house and no job. Having said all that they need to accept another model. The house is burning. You can talk about all the reasons you didn’t cause the fire or you can save whatever possessions you can grab and then get a bucket and throw water. Nothing wrong with going to the rally but it can’t be the only nod to the new reality. One last disjointed thought: Again you’re right about worldwide anger, but they’re marching with Occupy signs. OWS has worldwide brand recognition without yet revealing product. I’d much prefer the problem of defining product (even though I will lose some demand when I unveil the definition) than the challenge of having the worlds greatest product that nobody know about.  And yes, I did say OWS needs to define themselves, but first they should take the low hanging fruit available to broaden the base.

        • Eugene Farber

          Yes, the college kids are the ones that can be out there because they don’t have families to take care of. But if they are there also protesting for those families, they should be kind enough not to block the street so the people that need to take care of their families can go to work. 

          I think my biggest problem with these protests is the “right” argument. They think everything is a right. Jobs are a right. Home ownership is a right. Those aren’t rights. Those are things you earn by working hard. 

          Ok, I will yield to you on the branding argument. They did do a good job of branding the movement even though they didn’t really define what the movement represents.

          • barryrsilver


            As far as the folks blocking the streets, I’m not a fan. Frankly it’s wrong at all but as part of time limited demonstration to make a point, I could see it, but no one, no one should feel physically threatened (NYPD? Anyone there?). As for the college kids and right to entitlement (let me finish before you light me up) understand that for many of these kids/adults, a certain set of rules has been given to them over and over and over (work hard, good grades, go to college, American Dream) and while they were following the rules, the game changed. So see that whole “I’m getting screwed” philosophy in context. Having said that, they went to college and should use that education to understand the rules have changed and make a plan accordingly. It falls to each individual to not be a casualty in their own life story.

          • EugeneFarber

            @barryrsilver I see what you’re saying. And don’t want to “light you up” by any means :). But isn’t the whole point of a college education to prepare people for life in the real world? I think the school system is really screwed up. But that’s a whole different story :)I blame the parent personally. I feel like a lot of parents let society as a whole raise their kids instead of taking responsibility for them themselves. That’s how kids grow up to expect things to be handed to them, and aren’t prepared to deal with the consequences of their actions.

            The system may be screwed up, and it may even change while you’re in the middle of it, but you are responsible for dealing with whatever life throws at you.

            I realize that I’ve been blessed to be put in a position that I am in with parents, family and friends that will always be there for me and have given me a foundation to be where I am. And not many people have the same circumstances as me, or are as lucky as I am. So this is where a lot of their views come from. But again, this is why I blame the parents :).

  • Bojan Djordjevic

    You’ve left me speechless, great article, reaalyy GREAT. This is refreshing. Those people need to grow up. And yea topless chicks can stay, protests or not 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting points, Eugene.

    Before I speak my mind, let me clarify my allegiances.
    a) Not being American, I don’t describe myself as either Democrat or Republican. It wouldn’t make sense. I lean left on issues of social progress. I am willing to listen to rational arguments on the right. I am, in many ways, a social democrat. In others, I am an anarchist. But a society organized around non-hierarchical lines will only work in a true, post-scarcity environment, and we’re not there yet. We may never get there.

    b) It is my belief that all human political systems are inherently broken, it’s just that some work better than others. Let me define “better.” A better political system is one where citizens actively participate in government and keep corporations in check. This has nothing to do with restrictions on freedom. You can’t have too much freedom, in fact — but corporations have long infringed on the freedom of others. Even more now that they feel entitled to spy on us, openly and shamelessly. This should be debated in a rational way.

    Now, as for protesting corporations while using their products. There’s an old punk slogan, “use the machines, don’t let the machines use you.” Something like that. It excuses almost anything. iPhones are tools and nothing but — one could argue that. The fact remains that there are no anarchist factories making anarchist hardware. So what makes do with what one has. That’s one approach.

    There was ONE guy in the whole history of Western civilization in the Americas that made a coherent stand, and that guy was Chris McCandless. He died alone sitting in an abandoned bus in Alaska. McCandless was the real Thoreau; the original nipped down to the local pub for drinks while he wrote paeans to solitary living on Walden Pond.

    You either accept that you are a part of the system and the system can be improved by degrees, but never become wholly perfect, or you leave it behind altogether. Go left or go right, do what you will, but 

    What strikes me about #OWS is that there are so many people coming together for different purposes — as you pointed out — that coherence is hard to achieve.

    Clearly, something about the way the West runs itself isn’t working. There are spoiled children and disillusioned veterans and airline pilots protesting that they got shafted.

    I have a principle when it comes to spending. “If I bought everything I can afford, I wouldn’t be able to afford anything.”

    It seems to me that people in affluent countries see iPhones, iPads, computers, nice cars, nice clothes and good food as rights. They are in fact privileges. But the media — marketers — have been inculcating wrong notions of right, privilege and social standing for a long time. Marketing is political. When you communicate on a mass level, you can’t avoid ideology. Advocating creature comforts is political. Spending is political.

    The one consistent message from left- and right-leaning media outlets these past few decades has been “spend and feel better.”

    You never feel better. The status ladder has an infinite number of rungs. You can never get to the top.

    So the 99% have a marketing problem? I’d say they have two.

    • Eugene Farber

      I’m not a Democrat or Republican either. I’m independent…but if I absolutely HAD to identify myself with a party it would be libertarian. I lean left on social issues, I lean right on issues of economy. In general, I think the less government interference the better. 

      One of the signs I saw during this protest was that “jobs are a right” …this REALLY bothered me. Jobs are not a right. A job is a privilege you earn with hard work. That is why there is an application and interview process. Companies do not have to hire you just because you feel it is your right to have a job. 

      This is really the thing that bothers me most about this protest. There is a lot of people demanding hand-outs. 

      • Anonymous

        Oh, I agree. ‘Jobs are a right’ sounds like Stalinist propaganda to me. And we all know how communism ended up.

        • Eugene Farber

          Totally, ended up in a country that my parents couldn’t wait to get me out of. And I’m glad they did. 

          I take that subject a bit more personally than most probably because my great grandfather spent time in a gulag on multiple occasions. First because he was Jewish, and second because he was an artist…that’s a double whammy. He was only released to go fight in war, and then thrown back in (sounds fair, right?).The thing about these protests is that there may be some rational, legitimate arguments there. But it is so all over the place that they get washed out by calls for military coups and hand-outs. Once I saw the “leftist military coup” sign I had enough and had to leave.

  • Lauri Flaquer

    Great post. Thanks for the update and the marketing pointers.

    I haven’t watched TV since I left the news media in 1998. After too many years at NBC and CNBC I was sick to death of it. However, I do love the way that “NEWS” is delivered. It was a fabulous and frightening experience to be inside the media for Desert Sheild and Desert Storm. Very interesting indeed.

    I have unfortunately paid unbelieveable interest rates on my credit cards. So much so that I am extremely close to paying them off and hopefully not using credit in this way again. What ever happened to the cap on interest rates? I think you might be ahead with a loanshark!

    There are serious issues in this country and I am happy that people are hitting the streets to gain some attention for the BS that is going on in DC and Wall Street. I don’t think we could actually have enough people there protesting. The laws need to be changed but lawmakers are on the take and financial instutions are footing the bill.

    College students are a HUGE market for these banks. They prey on them the minute they are of age and they are paying for years. Credit card companies paying colleges millions to solicit students with easy and “low cost” credit. Only to raise their rates at the first late payment. The rates are at close to 30%. Everyone’s in on this and no one is there to protect the consumer. I think this is criminal. I’m thrilled to hear that these students are there in mass. Hopefully, it will shed some light onto the fact that the “foxes are appointed to guard the chicken coup.”

    As for the topless women, what is the motivation for this? How does this fit into the protest? Unless it’s something like “Citibank took everything, even my bra” I can’t understand it. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    • Eugene Farber

      Hi Lauri, 

      The topless women can be explained easily: drugs, drum circles and college students. ‘Nuf said. 

      Sure companies may be praying on college students, but college students are adults. They should know better. Or at least take some responsibility for the situation they got themselves into. No one FORCED them to buy anything. 

      If these people really want to make a difference…they should infiltrate the government and corporations and change them from the inside.

  • Randy Pickard

    Great post. Made me laugh while being informative. Yes, you’re guity of false advertising with the attention grabbing headline, but I don’t think anyone is going to complain to the FTC. Big question in my mind is will the unfocused anger of the OWS movement stay non-violent.

    • Dino Dogan

      It seams that when you promise people boobs, you better deliver on boobs. If you dont, they get all pissed at you. See @johngarrett:twitter comment below. Lesson learned 🙂


      Eugene can address the big question but since I tweaked the headline, I’d like to challenge your statement that the headline didnt reflect the post. 🙂

      The post IS about OWS. The crux of its post is lack of marketing message, and THERE ARE BOOBS! lol

      There are boobs in 2 sections in fact.

      I guess this simply means I misjudged my audience’s need for boons. Yet another lesson learned 🙂

      • John Garrett

        Don’t mess with me about boobs, man..this is serious business!

        Nah, just kidding. As for me, I was joking about the headline and I agree the title is pretty much spot on. Rock on dudes!

    • Naomi Most

      The movement will stay nonviolent thanks to various cops making public examples of themselves in How Not to Do Things. Despite Eugene’s assertion that the movement isn’t making use of social media, people are doing a very good job of sharing videos of the police’s unprovoked brutality (there are several examples) and spreading the accompanying message that responding with violence would be a bad idea.

      • Eugene Farber

        Hey Naomi, 

        I saw a few of those videos. Yes, I’m sure a few instances were unprovoked violence by the cops who were probably fed up with it…and they should be held responsible. 

        However I saw on video in particular claiming police brutality and it clearly cut out a guy shoving the officers while blocking traffic. You can catch the tail end of the shoving for a second and it cuts to the cops brining the guy down. 

        I’m sure it IS a problem, but I also think there is a lot of propaganda out there trying to make it seem worse than it is.

        • Naomi Most

          Successful propaganda seems like a pretty high-functioning activity for a bunch of directionless college students, lazy hippies, and activists who “just need something to be passionate about”.

          • Dino Dogan

            Naomi…I was going to write a contrarian rebuttal to Eugene’s post but I will gladly yield the floor to you if you are up for it. Send me an email to Dino.dogan at gmail for guest post invite.

          • Naomi Most

            No time, but thanks for the invite!

          • Eugene Farber

            I don’t think that cutting out the beginning of a video is too much for a college student. Our education system may be fucked up, but it’s not THAT fucked up. And that’s certainly not something you couldn’t teach yourself.

            Nor did I mention where I saw this video. You assume it was created by one of these “directionless” college students. 

            Once again, I never said the word “hippy.” Yet, you are the second person to claim that I did in the comment section. I feel like you are taking what OTHERS are saying elsewhere and projecting it onto me. Unless that is just the default argument for the protest supporters, not sure. I think the hippy movement was vastly different than what is going on here. 

            Anyway, your comments are fairly involved, and I don’t think it would take you that much more time to write out a rebuttal as Dino offered. I would sincerely like to read it.

  • Kathleen

    You are right on the mark with everything you said, except the boobs! Not that they weren’t a nice show just not appropriate, sorry Eugene 🙂 Anyway, everybody is pissed off and rightfully so. I think the deal is too much “about me” for way too long and not enough “about us”! This includes the “I’m owed” crowd who take no personal responsibility, to the corrupt politicians, labor boards, and ceos. Living for self with no regard or love for others makes for an ugly world!
    My son went out and shot Occupy Tampa. He noted (to me) the irony of student protesters. One sign read, Corporate Greed has Corrupted Government and Society. Meanwhile these college students were sporting nike shoes, talking on their iphones, and the like… See a few of them here –

    Wish everyone would focus on love rather than money!

    • Dino Dogan

      IN Eugene’s defense, Im the one who added boobs to the headline 🙂

      • Kathleen

        Hey Dino, 

        I read the comments and am not surprised by the addition lol. Personally I would have read this post without your boobs… but you knew that too 🙂 Have a great week 

  • Naomi Most

    “The 99%” refers to that part of the world earning less than $350,000 per year. You are likely part of it.

    Lack of “direct message” is a strength of the movement. Direct messages are easily co-opted by corporate and political interests seeking to astroturf movements into impotence.
    It is definitely interesting that the OWS movement is poorly marketed. But here’s the thing: it’s still growing. There are sympathetic protests all over the United States, and even now in Canada and in Italy, of all places.
    They’re doing something right. A message is being passed along, encouraging people to make their disparate, inconsistent signs and show up for weeks now.

    Perhaps this isn’t ABOUT delivering a “direct message”, but about spreading a perspective and fomenting conversation. Saying “we are the 99%”, being the movement’s only catch-phrase, makes a very clever starting point, don’t you think? It certainly gets people talking (even if they don’t agree).

    • Dino Dogan

      Thank you Naomi. I agree 100%.

      • Eugene Farber

        See where your dirty mind gets you 🙂

  • Erica Allison

    I heart this post!  Well said, Eugene. I might also add that in addition to their very basic marketing problem, they have a strategy problem – they don’t have one.  Where is the strategy here? OWS until the Wall St corporations say “Ok, you’re right, we’re greedy…we’ll stop now.”  I don’t think so.  Yes, they’re getting attention, but what they DO with that attention is the difference between noise and strategic action and planning.  

    The corporations, credit card companies, and all others blamed for our situation are extremely good marketers. Don’t fault them for that. Learn from them. Use it against them. The CBS Sunday Morning story on this (I think it was 2 Sundays ago?) really highlighted the lack of attention to marketing, organization and strategy. 

    I also love the points made about impeding the opportunities for folks to get to work, in the name of ‘jobs’.  Without organization, a truly strategic plan to accomplish agreed upon objectives, and spot on marketing, I’m not sure what will be accomplished.  I’ve yet to hear it.  But that could be because I’ve tuned them out already.

    Oh, and Eugene, Asheville just had a topless protest not too long ago…that might be something you could get behind. 🙂

    • Eugene Farber

      Hi Erica, Thank you! 🙂

      That’s really my point here, what are they going to accomplish with this. I recently commented on another blog that I can’t take them seriously. And someone responded to me by saying “they don’t care if you take them seriously or not”. And this is true…because in the grand scheme of things, who the hell am I?
      But If I can’t take them seriously, why on earth would Wall Street take them seriously?

      Now this Asheville rally, on the other hand, is something I can get behind lol

  • Faryna

    My comment to Donald Mazzela about OWS is relevant to this discussion so I’m pasting it here too.

    Zuccotti Park, in fact, seems to be more of a small circus freak show than protest. I’m not surprised by Aaron Biebert and Eugene Farber’s reactions to Occupy Wall Street. However, if one looks to all sides of the problem without bias, the incoherence of Zuccotti Park actually represents the breaking down of American society and life.

    The reality is that nothing makes sense anymore. There are no answers and solutions. There are only more and more problems. What’s wrong with America has become so vast and deep that it fuels intuitive and existential apprehensions which can only be understood by the protestors within their own subjective ponderance of personal problems that they immediately comprehend and experience.

    In other words, Americans feel strongly that the shit has hit the fan, but they don’t understand how their own personal problems belong to a widespread failure of systemic proportions. The ship is taking on water at multiple points below deck. The intellectuals and experts, themselves, seem to lack the imagination and courage to speak honestly.

    Fear is thick as fog. And visibility, consequently, is reduced.

    It’s very much a need to know thing that’s going on. Between government offices as much as between government and financial institutions, government and the people, and mainstream media and the people. Some will even suggest that the freak show at Zuccotti park is allowed to go on with the show because as long as no one addresses, thinks about, and comprehends the bigger picture, apprehension will not become outrage. Myself, I find it unlikely that editors and bureau chiefs have caught a bad case of stupid.

    The truth, however, will set us free.

    Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… this is not a campaign slogan. It is a sworn and inalienable guarantee. But if you don’t take it seriously as a citizen, no politician will either. I highly recommend you read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and understand what America is about and how we shall keep this ship floating.

  • RSA Course

    Yes a clear message and understanding of marketing would go a long way and in the system we live in changing the laws would be the thing to make a difference. I imagine this kind of protest has come about becasue as you said people are angry and I suspect have no idea how to make any of the many changes they want to see. Most people (maybe the 99%) are in a system of which they have no understanding of how it works or how to change it. Are even oblivious to what the system is and that by using technology are apart of the very system they complain about.

    My understanding (could be wrong) is that in America if you can’t pay your mortgage back you just hand the keys back to the bank and it is their responsibility. In Australia if you hand the keys back and the bank sells your house, it is your responsibility to pay the bank back if it sells for less then the mortgage. Which creates a very different system and housing market.

    It seems that in many systems including in Australia we make laws and rules becasue of those who may not take personal responsibility. In some cases it is a way to protect people. Fair enough. However by doing that we are potentially creating societies where no one thinks about personal responsibility. It is all about the law and what people can get away with. When I come up to an orange light that is going to go red do I think. “I best slow down in case I am a danger to others and injure someone by going through this light” or do I think ” Is there a camera that will catch me at this light and am I running late” sadly the second one is probably what comes into my head. We are taught to follow rules rather then think and take personal responsibility for what is authentic to us based on our values. I don’t have any answers as it is merely an observation that came to me the other day. But would the world be in such a mess if every person looked at their decisions from the point of view of taking personal responsibility based on their values rather then what the rules are? Maybe this does not work and is why we have rules. But I would love to see a trial society where you are taught personal responsibility and to understand and live by your values and then are taught about the rules. Love to see how that would turn out.

  • tracetime

    Eugene, this is a very complex issue and it is much easier to criticize it for what it is not than to understand what it is at its core or work to shape it into what it will become. The #OWS movement cannot be summed up in a tidy way, nor can it be reduced to tripping trust fund hippies and the unemployed. I was at Occupy Denver on Saturday when it turned unnecessarily brutal and it was very disturbing. But it was unsettling before the police charged in (and yes they charged before there was any reason). The variance of message, and the people’s reasons for being there were confusing and cohesive at the same time. The message is broad and scattered because the impact of Wall Street and corporate ties to government has hit Americans in such a scatter-shot way. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were written out neatly, in nice penmanship with perfect spacing and clear, five paragraph essay form? Yes. And that’s what would happen if there was a marketing/branding entity at the head of it all but that is not how this movement is moving. In my opinion, a lot of fear is stirring under the surface as the OWS brings up the ugly and the unknown. The biggest thing that OWS does is open up a conversation. It took years, nearly 10, for the Civil Rights Movement to lead to the Voting Act, years to stop the Vietnam war, and it will take years for this to create the impacting change we need in so many areas, we will need to work legislatively, we’ll need to stop our over-consumption as we play a part in this too. The cow lovers bit, I don’t buy it. No one is saying we want all corporations to dry up and blow away, of course not. Starbucks fuels our economy as much as it fuels our mornings.

    @RSA Course “In Australia if you hand the keys back and the bank sells your house, it is your responsibility to pay the bank back if it sells for less then the mortgage. Which creates a very different system and housing market.” the same is true here as well. The bank disclosures for most short sales give them the option to go after the seller for the difference. (FHA loans are different)

    • RSA Course

      @tracetime Thanks for the clarification between short sales and FHA loans

    • EugeneFarber

      @tracetime I don’t deny anyone’s right to protest, and certainly don’t deny that there needs to be change. What I find disturbing is how much lack of personal responsibility runs rampant in this protest (at least at the Wall Street one, not sure how it was in Denver).

      The other day I saw this interaction:

      Question: “Who told you that if you go to college you can get an apartment in New York City?”Answer: “My teachers…my parents….”I’m sorry, but Wall Street is not responsible for people’s lack of common sense or refusal to take personal responsibility for their own lives.

      Again, I do feel that change needs to happen – I don’t think anyone would deny that. I just take issue with a lot of the individuals that are taking part in this.

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  • evelynonline80

    I am glad to see that your post has opened up a debate. If I absolutely HAD to identify myself with a party it would be libertarian. I lean left on social issues, I lean right on issues of economy. In general, I think the less government interference the better.

  • five fingers shoes

    There were topless women running around this park. so right!

  • Myrna Greenhut


    I found this post checking out your guest post strategy.  Very cool positioning.  I noticed you took a “I have to see for myself approach.”  And you also like cheese.

    Seriously, it is interesting to hear what the different generations think about various protests. I’m glad  there are guys around like you who are not afraid to say what they think and can still have fun on this earth without wanting to “blow up” the system, since we haven’t yet found a better one.

    Thanks for showing me the blogging world and how to get noticed in it.  

    Wishing you success, always,

    Myrna Greenhut

  • gracebolt

    agree with you

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