you didn't need that stuff anyway

As American Middle Class Vanishes, Advertisers Focus Only On Richest 10%

Here’s something with a plus and a minus: Most Americans will soon be free of endless advertising and marketing campaigns, because the advertising industry has decided the only money to be made is in marketing things to the last people with money, the richest 10%.

The “minus,” in this case, is that only the richest 10% have any money to spend on crap anymore, so that probably means you’re among the 90% now without money and also without any aspirations of ever making money. Too Much magazine assesses the situation:

“Mass affluence,” as a new white paper from Ad Age, the advertising industry’s top trade journal, has just declared, “is over.”

The top 10 percent of American households, the trade journal adds, now account for nearly half of all consumer spending, and a disproportionate share of that spending comes from the top 10’s upper reaches. “Simply put,” sums up Ad Age’s David Hirschman, “a small plutocracy of wealthy elites drives a larger and larger share of total consumer spending and has outsize purchasing influence — particularly in categories such as technology, financial services, travel, automotive, apparel, and personal care.”

If you’re wondering where the cutoff is, Ad Age says people not making household incomes of at least $200,000 are of no interest, and people not making at least $100,000 in household income by the time they’re 35 are also of no interest because they’re never going to become wealthy regardless of their aspirations. [Too Much via Metafilter]

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About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne

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139 comments

  1. ManchuCandidate

    You don't have a solid gold toilet? Too bad you poor muthafuckas!

    The choice will ever be so clear. Rich people armored vehicles for the eelights and Hoopties/Waldemort disposable shit for the rest of us.

    1. easybaked

      I learned in the 80's that Jefferson Airplane should never have (d)evolved into Jefferson Starship.

      1. Texan_Bulldog

        What's the matter? You didn't like "We Built this City"….oh, that was painfully bad.

        1. easybaked

          I sincerely pity my future elevator co-passengers, as I fear that I may not be able to stop screaming when the inevitable Muzak version starts playing. Gah!

        2. emmelemm

          That has to be one of my least favorite songs in the history of EVER. How can the mighty fall so low?

  2. Goonemeritus

    New serf be gone the air freshener that removes the unpleasant smell associated with the poor.

    1. ChapterUndVerse

      The new improved Serf-B-Gon has antiviral properties to kill 99.99% of all poverty-causing bacteria, known to cause an itching sensation that Something Must Be Done. 'Cause if you hang around poor people, you can catch it, like the known virus that causes unemployment if you notice unemployed people.

  3. SorosBot

    "Mass affluence is over" – They're just noticing this now? I'm pretty sure the advertising executives are among the people who've been waging the war on the middle class begun by Reagan for the past 30 years.

    1. LionHeartSoyDog

      At least we've got Repugnicant massive ass flatulence to hold us over 'til the Revolution.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya

    As Middle Class Vanishes, Advertisers Focus Only On Richest 10%

    It's just common sense, Ken. And they're only going to keep getting richer, while the rest of us get poorer (since the rich people already own both of our political parties).

    So what's Wonkette's strategy?
    ~

      1. user-of-owls

        Urban Chaos? I saw them once at the Mud Club back in the 70s. They slammed! Too bad their lead guitarist, I Am Race War, od'd on drano on the night that he was wed.

  5. not that Dewey

    Does this explain why Lockheed and Boeing advertise on MSNBC? I've always wondered who their target audience was. I was never personally in the market for a new jet.

    1. CrankyLttlCamperette

      They also plaster the metro with ads, but I think that's more to try and influence the wonks heading to the Capitol to work.

      1. Terry

        Actually, the ads in the Metro stations are a bit of stereotyping or cultural/economic classification, depending on how you want to look at it. Sure, there are ads for weapons systems and helicopters at Pentagon and Pentagon City, as well as ads for new museum exhibits at stops down by the Mall. Travel the lines to the east and you get ads about AIDS testing, how not to lose your mortgage, and other assistance available to you from the city or the county.

        The only thing awesome about the ads in the eastern stations is when someone is upset with Discovery and puts ads up at the Silver Spring station. I did particularly enjoy the anti-Palin ads when Discovery announced that they'd signed her to do a series on Alaska.

    2. Callyson

      Actually, they're just trying to keep us from noticing how much we taxpayers spend on their A&D products. Which often don't work besides.

      1. not that Dewey

        Not only that, but that use that "human shield" advertising technique — The People of Boeing. See, who can be mad at the Death industry? We're just ordinary people like you!

  6. KeepFnThatChicken

    I always wondered why — as a faithful watcher of The Daily Show — they had ads for Movado, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. I'm in a demographic of potheads.

    1. Golfing_OJ

      The target there is mid-management hacks who work for the Koch brothers, who put down their plates of cheap-shit brie to give thumbs up when Stewart does stuff like make fun of foreign anarchic protests. Those crazy Greeks, breaking shit when they decide they hate austerity measures, so funny!

    2. DaRooster

      "I always wondered why — as a faithful watcher of The Daily Show — they had ads for Movado, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz."

      Whateverthefuck pays the bills… another American institution…

  7. BaldarTFlagass

    Well, fuck them, I'm TIVOing through every goddam commercial forever. Oh wait, I already do that. OK, I'm going to DVR live sports events and watch them later, just to fast-forward through the commercials.

  8. SorosBot

    Once the public catches on to this whole "mass affluence is over" thing (that Ken and other\s have been pointing out for the last few years) I predict a sharp rise in the number of ads for bodyguard services , armored cars, and home security systems that includes things like electric fences and moats.

    1. Not_So_Much

      'Zactly — all these douchecanoes furiously masturbating to Ayn Rand into a stack of Benjamins don't seem to understand the 3rd World existence they're driving towards. I, for one, look forward to the hurling of rotten vegetables in their general direction.

    2. zhubajie

      But who protects you from your guards, your security system maintenance people, etc? The pharaohs were robbed by the people who dug their tombs!

  9. elviouslyqueer

    people not making at least $100,000 in household income by the time they’re 35 are also of no interest because they’re never going to become wealthy regardless of their aspirations.

    Oh, way to boost our self-esteem, Ken. Pass the government cheese and hobo beans, also.

  10. PabaBritannica

    Ha! I mentioned this when we were flying to California last week. The ads in the airports are all for high end shit like Virgin Atlantic and Audi and Burberry. They've written the rest of us off since us poors will just go blow it all at Wal-Mart on anus burgers as expected, so why bother to try to convince us otherwise?

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Every time I pick up a New Yorker magazine, my mind boggles.

      Who buys this shit?

    2. ChapterUndVerse

      Wow. Like, you fly, but don't have a six-figure income? This anomaly will puzzle the geniuses with statistical marketing backgrounds for years, but only as a corner case, to be argued academically, since such people don't actually exist. The math says so, so it must be true, also.

    1. Terry

      I'm enjoying the Porsche ads, but I'm sure that if I ever had a car that expensive that I would never drive it out on to rocks by either a cliff or a beach.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      WIN $1,000,000
      Actually get $50,000 a year for 20 years
      After taxes, actually get $30,000
      Congratulations! You're above the poverty line!

      Which is what we all aspire to, so there you go.

      1. Ken Layne

        Or take the $385,000 "cash value" payout today, because who wants guaranteed income for twenty years?, and then immediately pay nearly half in federal and state taxes (top brackets), leaving you with about $200,000.

        If you're one of those fancy responsible people who first pay off the car and the credit cards and the loans, there's probably $150,000 left over for "fun." (It's probably not enough to pay off the mortgage.)

        A vacation, a new car, a bunch of consumer electronics shit, five grand here and there to destitute siblings and children, and it's all gone.

        1. emmelemm

          On the one hand, I've always thought "it might actually be better to spread it out, because you actually *can't* spend it all at once." On the other hand, the way things are going, there's an actual, realistic chance that state governments and/or lottery commissions could go totally bankrupt at some point in the near future, and then you'd be SOL.

        2. GunToting[Redacted]

          True, but the idea is the "money today is worth more than money tomorrow," so the cash payout is the better deal. If you consider that if I were to win PowerBall next month (someone just won yesterday so it's a paltry $20m today), the likelihood that the US dollar will exist in 20 years will be so low that I'd be smart to take the cash payout, invest in hobo beans and ammo, and fortify my compound.

          Yes, I spend way too much time thinking about shit like this.

  11. Serolf_Divad

    I wonder what wealth distribution in the country will have to look like before the GOP's base, a legion of illiterate working class yahoos, finally realizes that they've been the willing victims of a huge, awful bait and switch campaign?

    Seriously, listening to the guys who surround me at work lionizing Michelle Bachman and repeating talking points they read on Fox News and right-wing blogs I can only think of the cow in The Restaurant At the End of The Universe, who has been genetically engineered to want to be eaten.

    1. freakishlywrong

      Don't know what your work is, but am truly sorry you have to listen to that shit all day. I'd be throwing shoes and helicopter punching, (I'd be jawbless).

    2. Lascauxcaveman

      I remember that part. A "thinking man's Republican" like Newt would probably make some comment about that being radical social genetic engineering, then take it back the next day.

    3. Terry

      Here's a fun game. The next time they're spouting off on some talking points and you've actually read the source material on the issue, ask them a few detailed questions. See how fast they either get away from you or call you a socialist.

      1. Serolf_Divad

        No, these people are incorrigible. The other day I started arguing with one guy who was promoting birther bullshit, only to find others joining in to defend him. Every argument I presented to these guy was met with the same reply: "You know how easily those things can be forged?"

        Their views are fueled by pure predjudice. Empirical evidence is meaningless to these people. Ideology is all they understand and all they regurgitate. Every ridiculous assertion that agrees with their ideoloigcal preconceptions is automatically validated in their minds, whereas every contrary fact is clearly a forgery. They are spoon fed lies 24/7 by Fox and believe every word that comes out of Sean Hannity's mouth. Any evidence presented to them from outside their miniscule ideological universe is immediately dismissed simply because it didn't come from Fox.

        I argue with these people all the time, it's sad really, because I see how they are clinging to a modest middle class existence by the thread of their teeth, all while supporting politicians and economic policies that work to undermine their tenuous economic position.

        1. Terry

          Good points. I think my father has given up trying to talk to some of the guys at his Legion post. Their ideas are pretty well set in concrete. Dad's fun now is putting up things on the Legion bulletin board I print out for him from the internet, like that poster of Obama saying he was sorry he was slow getting back about the birth certificate as he was busy killing Osama bin Laden. Basically, the stuff he pins up there makes certain people's heads explode.

        2. charlesdegoal

          My choice of late has been neither to argue nor to agree. I'd rather be happy than right.

        3. sezme

          Samuel "Joe" the (almost) Plumber thinks that you are being short-sighted and would like you to know that he's content to subsidize the rich because one day he fully intends to be one of them (when he wins the lottery).

          1. Geminisunmars

            One time he was on Bill Maher's show, and Bill was being nice to him, but pointing out that perhaps there might be other ways of thinking about certain things, and the look on his face was a puzzled "Does not compute! Does not compute." I don't think we should mess with these people's wiring. We just need to find a way to kindly neutralize them and their Faux overlords.

          1. Serolf_Divad

            I have this thing where, when I hear a couple of guys in the next cubicle spouting bullshit right-wing talking points… I.just.can't.fucking.help.myself!!!!

        4. user-of-owls

          One of my favorite t-shirt slogans from an eon ago seems apropos here:

          Never try to teach a pig to sing. You'll only frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.

    4. snoopyfan2010

      You should try telling them, "You're making a powerful point." which actually is code for "you're making an a$$ out of yourself", smile nicely and end the conversation.

  12. user-of-owls

    Based on what I see in terms of TV ads, plutocrats have a serious problem when it comes to getting a boner.

    1. LionHeartSoyDog

      Also, the plutes are the only ones who can afford Big Pharma's "medicine" and thus, hopefully, experience many of the horrific side-effects.

      1. user-of-owls

        And after Ryan-Don't-Care, of course, they will be the the only ones to whom the phrase, "consult your physician" will be applicable.

  13. OC_Surf_Serf

    So that's why we seeing more ads on CNN selling commercial aircraft, powerplants, and defense weapons…

    1. Ken Layne

      Sometimes I think those ads are exclusively for the lobbyists and spokespeople in the cable network green rooms waiting to go on the air to promote their interests. Jesus, what a circle of crap ….

  14. Barb

    I noticed in the grocery store there is a new brand of dog food that's right in the middle of the aisle. They built a refrigeration unit to hold it and it looks like those tubes of cookie dough. Gourmet dog food? Are they serious? Who can afford food for Fido that has to be refrigerated? Most Americans are just dumb enough to attempt to use their cat's claw as a toothpick and they can't afford refrigerated dog food.

    1. Terry

      The thing is that its not really dog food. It's part of Paul Ryan's new healthcare system for the eldery, along with his healthcare vouchers. It's not dog food, Granny, it's GOURMET!

      1. Lascauxcaveman

        Eh, pound for pound, cheap people food is a lot cheaper than gourmet pet food.

        But the pet food is probably a lot more nutritious.

    2. not that Dewey

      The teevee ads say to "look for it in your grocer's refrigerated pet food aisle". Clearly, they've never been to south-central NM…

  15. CapeClod

    If this means I'm never going to have to watch the commercial where the black delivery man goes around snatching away Miller High Life from white people with no taste in beer, then I'm all for it.

  16. weejee

    Personal care must include drugz for the oldes. You know we oldes, with our hoards of Ameros stuffed in our mattresses, are such an easy mark. Either that or Mrs. Weejee and I are watching the wrong shows when we occasionally turn on our beloved, and tiny, 25-year old teevee.

  17. DaRooster

    I learned in the 80s- I hear the secrets that you keep… when you're sleeping with your sheep… or some shit.

  18. Lascauxcaveman

    This comment about winning the lottery deleted in deference to Dean Booth's similar comment posted earlier, below.

    1. AJWjr.

      Well, I am. Oh, wait–you mean per year? That's different–I thought you meant per decade

      Never mind…

    1. Terry

      Oh, advertisers are still targetting me but apparently based on my neighborhood's demographics and not my own information. I get catalogs almost daily from fine companies selling products to aid the elderly in independent living and others from companies selling women's clothes reminiscent of what they assume my homeland to be. I have to say, though, that I'd be really comfortable if I bought a few caftans in those ethnic patterns and paired them with the very sensible rubber soled shoes that come with customizable orthotic inserts.

  19. KeepFnThatChicken

    Many, many years ago, I would come home for lunch and watch The Jerry Springer Show. I was single, it was lunch, it was television. But I also watched the ads and figured out who their demographic was: people with no skills (fly-by-night trade schools), people with angled agendas (injury lawyers), and people who can't manage money (title loan companies).

    What was once cheap entertainment eventually became something I felt filthy about.

  20. flamingpdog

    I guess this pretty much explains the recent wave of Viagra and Cialis ads on the TeeVee. Makes it easier to keep the missus happy after you spent all day diving into the cold coins at the big round money bin.

  21. neiltheblaze

    So will the bourgeoning number of poorz be given a special chip for their TV's to avoid all the ads specifically not aimed at us? I mean – it's only fair. We'll just get the ads for Hormel's Hobo Beans and Three-Day Old Bread outlets.

  22. J Rbt. Oppenheiner

    The $200-for-Junk-cars-poster-on-telephone-pole form of advertising seems to be in healthy shape.

    1. wondering where i am

      The poster tacked to the telephone pole I like is this one:

      "We buy ugly houses."

      I mean, who will actually admit to themselves that their house is ugly?

  23. DaRooster

    That does it! I'm startin' a Gang… not the Ribble Rousing type of thugs but a respectable- Stagecoach Robbin', Safe on a Train Blowin' Up kind… you know… something with class… maybe we can sing them songs while we rob them and they'll think,"What a nice guy!" They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the riverbed; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the buckboards, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes.
    And then we will have showed them… ahh… the good old days.

    1. proudgrampa

      For too long now I've been at this game,
      ridin' like hell through the wind and rain
      robbin' bankers and Pullman cars.
      My lungs are choked with the dust of the road.
      Since Frank's been gone it's a heavy load
      and my bones are broke and my body is scarred.
      One More Shot
      Just for Old Times
      One Last Stand
      One More Hit
      Oughta do It
      Then We'll Quit while We Can

  24. SayItWithWookies

    So it's going to be the same commercials that they broadcast for PGA events, only all the time? Great — once my TimeShareJet lands on the sugar-white beaches of Alabama I can throw my Callaway clubs in the back of my Cadillac CTS and stay at that fancy antebellum hotel in Mobile. And then I might have to rethink my position on the afterlife, since I will officially be in hell.

    1. proudgrampa

      Hell sounds like a lot more fun than Heaven.

      I think Mark Twain said something along those lines.

    2. CalamityJames

      Please trust that Hell is about a two-hour drive north of Mobile. Birmingham shall always be numbah Won when it comes to misery and humidity.

        1. Lascauxcaveman

          LOL, the one and only time I was in Vegas, walking down the street, these guys would be throwing hooker advertisements at me even when accompanied by my wife, my nephew (10), daughter (7), and other daughter (18 mos., in backpack). It was surreal.

  25. easybaked

    Yay! This means that those annoying robo-calls during dinnertime will now be targeting rich Republicans instead of me!

    ¡Viva la revolución!

  26. hagajim

    Good thing I haven't watched any advertisements in at least four years…thank you DVR.

    1. wondering where i am

      But mass flatulence is right around the corner thanks to all those hobo beans.

  27. Naked_Bunny

    I predict this will mean I get even more junk mail for credit cards with stupendously shitty terms.

  28. KeepFnThatChicken

    Okay, so Bill Hicks was prophetic yet again.

    "If you work in marketing or advertising, kill yourself."

    Y'see? I don't miss Bill anymore. He still lives with us. The new American Jesus.

  29. glamourdammerung

    Sounds like "mission accomplished" for that whole "trickle down wealth" nonsense conservatives continually push, despite a success rate of 0% so far.

    1. DashboardBuddha

      ooops…there it is…it's back. Whew! For a minute there my whole structure of self-esteem was on the verge of collapsing.

  30. Ken Layne

    We are only a year or two away from stockers being replaced by robots.

    I was in CostCo last week to get tires and was watching the forklifts and thinking, "Just upgrade the processor in that forklift's electronics and you don't need the worker at all."

    1. DustinDeWynde

      WonkBot is much closer to taking over your job, Ken, than you realize.

      Eric Hoffer wrote about this in his book 'The Temper of our Time' where he describes the very day when he was a Longshoreman in NYC, (when NY Harbor still was one of the most active Shipping Ports in the world), and a new Crane Loader, that could do half a day's work of a dozen men in all of 20 minutes, first appeared on the docks. I believe he said in that passage that that made him see the writing on the wall and was the thing that was the impetus to start getting himself published, since what he knew as work was going to disappear.

      I've been closely watching Automation over the course of the last decade and it's in the last 6 months that I've been seeing things really kick into Hyperdrive.

      A brief overview of where things are today:

      They're engineering their machines to ergonomically fit in the spaces that we humans work in http://www.google.com/search?q=frida+robot so Ergo, no need to re-tool the Factory, Assembly Room, or Distribution Center.

      Whole Distribution centers are being manned by a mere Skeleton Crew of human workers, whose jobs are next to be Automated Away, forever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdd6sQ8Cbe0

      Both the VIAC Team from Italy and Google are projecting a complete switch-over to Automated Driving in a Time Frame of 10 years at earliest to all of 15 years at the latest: http://viac.vislab.it/?page_id=694&info=drive

      That's on the Blue Collar end of things.

      White Collar workers are not at all Immune, either:
      Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software – http://nyti.ms/hBB3xV

      The main thing to bear in mind is that all this is what our Owner-Operators can do today with these Systems being driven by today's computers.

      Computer Processing speed and power double every 2 years which means that within the incredibly short time frame of 10 years the machines running these machines will be about 15 times to 30 times more powerful than they are today.

      And cheaper.

      By the end of this decade, given all these advances and the billions that Corporate America is investing in Automation today, we could easily be looking at an Unemployment Rate that will be permanently at the 25% to 30% range and continue to climb each and every passing year.

      Of course, by then the work of today of eliminating any and all Social Safety Net Programs in the USA today, will have already been long completed, which means that we'll be able to expect that people starving in the street will become a common sight.

  31. powersuit

    I used to come to Wonkette to laugh, now I come here and I cry and then I leave convinced even more that this country is screwed. Thanks, Wonketteers!

    Maybe we all need to go outside for a while and take a walk.

      1. emmelemm

        Like in Total Recall, where they're selling air on Mars….

        Hey, maybe that will cause me to mutate and get three breasts! Upside!

        1. DashboardBuddha

          then you could, if you were so inclined, become the triple-breasted whore of Wonketticon 6.

  32. BlueStateLibel

    On the bright side, the vast majority of us will no longer be expected to fill up our homes with Chinese-made knick-knacks and gadgets that break after a week.

    1. zhubajie

      Some look forward to the day when US wages are low enough that YOU can make cheap knicks-knacks and sell them in China!

  33. BarackMyWorld

    I think the real question here is:
    How hard is it to get Danish citizenship?

  34. chascates

    But think of the jobs these wealthy create! Landscaper, pool cleaner, horse groomer, household staff/concubine, etc. If only the top 1% could employ the other 99%.

  35. mayor_quimby

    Well, my trip will end shortly after leaving the private airfield, when I'm pulled over for DWB and sent to the chain gang. WaahhhWaawwaaaa…
    And Pinko – you can always bring up how much of a 'socialist' success that symbol of freedom, the wolf is. Nothing more socialist than a wolfpack, dude.

  36. ttommyunger

    "As American Middle Class Vanishes, Advertisers Focus Only On Richest 10%." Great new for me; that's one group I won't mind being ignored by.

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