New York Times reporters are eager to see the influence of the left-wing sit-in Occupy Wall Street around every corner. On Sunday's front page, Tanzina Vega even credited Occupy Wall Street for a new batch of class-warfare themed television ads from McDonald's and others, inspiring overworked employees to actually take their lunch breaks and vacation days: "In Ads, the Workers Rise Up...and Go to Lunch."
A photo caption from an ad for Las Vegas tourism began: "Experts say some companies are tapping the spirit of Occupy Wall Street in ads."
The woman had had enough. Amid ringing phones and clicking keyboards she climbs up on her desk and shouts through her speakerphone: “I have 47 vacation days. That’s insane.”
“Let’s take back our summer!” she yells as she raises a sign over her head with the phrase “Vacation Now” on it. “Who’s with me?” A handful of employees applaud. The rest look away.
The scene, echoing a pivotal sequence in the 1979 film “Norma Rae,” is not a union recruiting pitch but instead is part of a television ad for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, from a campaign called “Take Back Your Summer.” Other big advertisers like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are also tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products portrayed as minor luxuries.
Vega managed to tease out an insidious pro-corporate interest agenda:
Marketers are adopting the theme of workers’ rights at a time when unions themselves are confronting declines in membership and influence. In effect, some labor experts say, they are turning a pro-worker theme on its head to serve the corporate interest.
“It’s an effort by management to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street spirit and redirect it to promote its product,” said Harry Katz, dean of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “They are using it in a somewhat manipulative way.”
Nevertheless, the appeals to downtrodden workers keep coming. If a mere lunch break or a weeklong vacation is not enough of a respite, workers can enter a contest called “Take the Year Off,” sponsored by Gold Peak Tea.