NYT.com had an interactive poll / visualization today taking readers' pulse on the Occupy protests. Browsing through the usual left-right snarks and screeds, and on the heels of a recent stroll through one of the protest sites, it occurred to me that we're missing a chance to think beyond the politics of the movement, to the economic opportunity it represents.
Think of the protest sites as outdoor ad inventory. This inventory is in great locations -- in the hearts of the world's financial districts, with lots of people with very high disposable incomes to see your ads every day, all day, right outside their windows -- the same people that fancy watchmakers pay the WSJ big bucks to reach.
Yet currently, this valuable inventory is currently filled with PSAs...
- One stated objective of the movement is to "Make Them Pay". The concept creates a practical mechanism for realizing this goal.
- Events and guerilla marketing in premium locations without a permitting process -- an advertiser's dream!
- Plus, sponsors could negotiate special perks, like keeping the protesters from "Going all Oakland" (just heard that term) on their retail stores.
- Cash-strapped municipalities can muscle a cut of the publishers' share, turning what's today a drag on public resources (police, etc.) into a money-maker.
There's another important benefit. This idea is a job creator. After all, the network needs people to pitch the "publishers" at each location, and sales folks to recruit the advertisers, and staff to traffic the ads, keep the books, etc. Politicians right and left could fold this into their platforms immediately.
Finally, for the entrepreneur who starts it all, there's the chance to Sell Out To The Man -- at a very attractive premium! And, for the protesters who back the venture, and get options working for it, a chance to cash out too, just like the guys they're protesting.
After all, Don't Get Mad, Get Even.
Postscript in Rolling Stone: "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the OWS Protests". Plus some thoughtful suggestions here.