The “I’m Rich, Tax Me,” Campaign

Last night, I was talking to a friend, who, while not a marketer by trade, has a great marketing mind. We were driving in the car and listening to CNN on the radio. They were covering what Rush Limbaugh had to say about President Obama’s planned tax hike on the wealthiest Americans.

My pal and I decided that President Obama, if he really is going to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, needs to build a PR campaign, as the wealthy obviously don’t want to be taxed. Obviously, many of the wealthy are not on board with having their taxes raised (just ask them). So what do you do when you have to sell folks on something they really don’t want? Start an ad campaign. Obama had a ton of star power endorsing him during the presidential campaign. Maybe he should call on those celebs one more time for an ad to put the tax hike front burner. Here’s how that TV ad might look.

Cue music. “America the Beautiful,” Ray Charles version.

A white backdrop, with a star filmed in black and white smack in the center. A close-up. Show some wrinkles. Bruce Sprinsteen is the first one (because he promoted Obama so much, silly, not because I am always writing about his marketing prowess. Okay, that, too). Bruce says, “I’m rich. Tax me.” Then Beyonce. “I’m rich, tax me.” Then you get another star, maybe a big time producer. Steven Spielberg, “I’m rich. Tax me.” Throw in a couple more stars saying, “I’m rich. Tax me.”

Then, put a regular guy up there, who just happens to be, well, you know . . . rich. “I’m rich. Go ahead. Raise my taxes. I can afford it.”

I admit that it probably won’t sway rich people that are against a tax hike. I can’t imagine them saying, “Oh, okay, Beyonce wants her taxes raised, it’s okay then for my taxes to shoot up.” If done right, and I’m not referring specifically to the campaign described here, but any campaign, it would further enrich the dialogue that is already going on in the masses. For the most part, many already are good with the idea of taxing the rich more (better the rich than them), but something like this gives them water cooler talk—if they still have a job, or if they company hasn’t downsized the water cooler. It takes a potentially (to some) ugly subject out of the shadows and right into the spotlight. Instant buzz.

My point extends beyond politics. Imagine a campaign in your own business that brings out and lays bare in a raw display some hot button or controversy that people may not necessarily want to think about, like the fact that companies are cutting back in more ways than just people. It doesn’t have to be serious. Take Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercial.

Hopefully, your company never needs such a campaign, but with the economic blues going around, if you find yourself in a thorny situation that you know is going to be made public, turn it around, show it in a different light, use the opportunity for some strong creative thinking. And heck, if you can get Steven Spielberg to star in your commercial, you are probably in better shape than the rest of us.

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