Where does Occupy go from here?

Protesters at Occupy L.A.

Occupy L.A. protesters.

Kai Ryssdal: It's Thursday, the 17th of November, or as the Occupy Wall Street protesters would prefer we say, the Day of Action.

In New York City this morning, hundreds of people -- if not more -- blocked streets near the New York Stock Exchange. They moved down into the subway for the evening rush hour.

Protesters marched here too, right through downtown L.A., a block and a half down the street from Marketplace HQ.

Protesters: We are the 99 percent!

So, a couple of things happened. Streets and stores were closed. People couldn't get to work on time.

Jenna Brown: We're actually working at the L.A. Auto Show right now, so we can't get to the Convention Center. I would say they're a nuisance here on the streets of L.A.

That's Jenna Brown from Orange County. But asking around among the protesters, we heard a lot of this:

Protesters: I think that is what a protest is supposed to do; it's supposed to get some attention. So if it makes people take notice, that's the point. It takes people getting arrested, businesses being hurt to get attention, it doesn't deter us at all -- it galvanizes us.

This might turn out to be the week for the Occupy movement. Now that they're not actually occupying anymore, they've taken to the streets with their message. But how far can that go if part of the 99 percent -- people who by and large sympathize with the Occupy message -- are losing patience?

There are people out there whose jobs it is to help businesses answer those kinds of questions. They're called brand managers, marketing consultants, political operatives in some cases. We got some of them on the phone for a little Occupy advice.

Martin Lindstrom's the author, most recently, of a book called "Brandwashed."

Martin Lindstrom: A successful demonstration always is a demonstration when you can relate to the people, where you feel empathy. You feel either sorry for them or you feel, 'That could have been me!' But when you start to go out and stop the traffic or create a mess in the business lives of other people, that's where suddenly it very quickly turns around.

Every branding person we talked to said, first things first: Clarify the message.

Sasha Strauss teaches brand strategy at the University of Southern California.

Sasha Strauss: That's the beauty of a well-established brand story, is that people can remember you and refer to you effortlessly. And that's the challenge with Occupy.

Marketing consultant Dan Roam suggests they rethink some of their terminology.

Dan Roam: From a kind of a large, historical perspective, an occupation is typically not something that's met very well by the natives, and it should come as no surprise that Mr. Bloomberg should move into Wall Street, which is his native territory, and move the occupiers out.

Finally, says an old political hand, there's something else. Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform -- he of the 'no new taxes' pledge.

Grover Norquist: They could learn from the Tea Party movement, which was a movement based on fear -- fear of too much government.

Of course, all this free advice probably isn't something protesters want to hear. Here's Sasha Strauss one more time.

Strauss: I know that branding feels corporate, sounds like a, 'Let's monetize the Coke can' concept, but the fact is that it's simply about explaining to the world who you are and why you matter in terms that everyone in the audience can understand.

I don't know if it can be that simple, though.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Occupy L.A. protesters.

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The Left invented this Pizza analogy. They want to make the public believe that wealth is a like a pie, collectively owned and static in size - something that needs to be distributed/re-distributed in order to be "fair."

The truth is wealth is not static or collectively own. Each individual creates and consumes their own pie. If Oprah Winfrey's pie is larger, it doesn't make my pie smaller. This is a fact the Left cannot fathom or deal with.

Imagine if every measure of performance had to be re-distributed with the goal of fairness. Should schools redistribute grades? Should the NFL redistribute touchdowns? Wouldn't that be the "fair" thing to do? Only in the mind of a Progressive.

Economics is ultimately about priorities and the distribution of wealth. If the economic and political system distributes more and more wealth to a smaller and smaller percentage of the population, the social order is poorer and weaker. The seeds of economic and political collapse are being sown by a system that justifies such disparities.

Criticisms of Occupy Wall Street for 1) not having a single, coherent message; and 2) lacking solutions to the country's problems seem like attempts to undermine a bona fide social protest. Why should an organic movement still in its infancy be required to define -- or "brand" -- itself when it is yet in the process of becoming? Can't we "ride with the tide and go with the flow" and see where it takes us? Then again, when Grover Norquist and PJ O'Rourke are your conservative commentators of choice, what can we expect except fear of the passionate outpouring of citizen sentiment that is OWS?

No one is arguing about a zero sum game, except financial guys. What's being protested is the rules that have rigged the game in favor of the one percent and the politicians tossing the 99% to the sharks to scrabble for the donations and influence of the 1%. It needs to stop!!! We need democracy! Rule by the people! Get it?


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