Wealth Accumulates In Pockets

Here is an ad for Harvard University, not that Harvard needs ads.

One reason, among many, that Harvard does not needs ads is numbers. The institution has all the numbers on its side. For example, The Atlantic looked at data that shows that 3,000 graduates of Harvard University are worth more than $30 million, and that most of them earned rather than inherited their money.

It’s a stat that sticks out — 3,000 graduates of Harvard University are worth more than $30 million. It’s also proof of how things work in the real world. People who are connected to wealth and privilege have a huge head start on the rest of the field, and frontrunners like to keep their seemingly insurmountable leads.

Is it all that different in advertising, or any other field of endeavor? By doing great work and winning grocery baskets full of awards every year, an agency is able to recruit better talent which propels it forward and ensures its elite status.

Speaking of elite status, the following video has been reappearing in my Facebook feed over the weekend:

The facts of income inequality in America are hard to stomach — 80% of Americans own just seven percent of the nation’s wealth, while the top 20% holds the remainder. The rich, do in fact, get richer.

Which has what to do with our roles as media and/or marketing professionals? We help the rich get richer, mostly for pennies on the dollar. But we also have the opportunity to do more than create wealth for our clients, we can create meaning for their customers. As consultants to big business, we are positioned to help steer not just communications but operations. Some may bristle at this kind of reach, but its not overstepping, it’s looking out for everyone’s best interets.

Another key takeaway for marketers is the fact that eight in ten Americans are far from financially well off. The struggle to earn has to be factored when asking our fellow Americans to buy a car, a new computer, or a bottle of vodka. And when we recognize the struggle for what it is, we know that things like planned obsolescence are morally wrong, and therefore unjustifiable.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.