Capitalism: An Advertising Story

It’s hard to watch these stories about people who are struggling in the economy. And I get the impression that even people who are doing OK are very cautious about spending. That’s a problem for the advertising industry. When people can’t buy what we sell, we’re in trouble:

We don’t need Socialism with a capital S, but we do need the balance that maintains a vibrant middle class. A little spreadin’ the wealth helps the ad industry–not so we can sucker people into buying what they can’t afford, but to ensure the means to buy little slices of a life well lived–a nice dinner out, a new outfit, a vacation here and there, a new garage door on the home, a trip to the ballpark. It’s no coincidence they set “Mad Men” in the post-war boom years of the Fifties and early Sixties. That was a golden age of consumerism and upward mobility for a lot of people. But that era, for better or worse, is long gone.
Our clients today–the brands we’ve surrounded ourselves with in modern living–won’t survive for long if current economic conditions continue. Big brands are particularly vulnerable. When cost is a factor, shoppers will opt for generic brands or less premium brands. And when cost isn’t a factor, there’s still a growing movement among some people to avoid big brands. I’m sure you know folks who insist on supporting local businesses or small brands even if it’s more expensive to do it.

Are there any solutions? I explore this in my new column on Talent Zoo, which will be on the home page tomorrow.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. “Government has never increased the standard of living of one single human being in civilization’s history.” – Steve Wynn

  2. That’s not what I learned in school (or by watching HBO’s “John Adams”).

  3. “Government has never increased the standard of living of one single human being in civilization’s history.” – Steve Wynn
    Well, unless you count anyone who ever received food from a government food bank, anyone who was ever liberated from a war zone/death camp, anyone who ever benefited from Social Security or Medicaid, anyone who ever received a VA loan, anyone who ever went to college on a Pell Grant or with a government-backed student loan, anyone who ever received government-sponsored job training, anyone who ever learned to read in public school, anyone who ever learned ANYTHING in public school, anyone who was ever saved from disaster by the police or the fire department, anyone spending their career in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, anyone whose health or life was improved by the Department of Health and Human Services, OSHA, The FDA, the existence of The Supreme Court, the Bill Of Rights, The Constitution, etc…
    But yeah, great quote dude. So true.