On my way to the Capital Criterium last Sunday, I noticed a strange theme to the advertising in Metro Center Station. All the ads seemed to have some sort of pro-big-business slant to them. Here are the ads I saw:
I saw others, including a public service ad for mercury (it’s not as bad as you think!) as well as one that seemed to be implying that drunk driving laws weren’t all that important (fatigue causes more accidents!). I knew something had to be up because all the ads were related, and I knew WMATA has a program to blanket purchase an entire station at once. Who’s responsible for this?
Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman, represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns, and restaurant chains. Berman & Co. lobbies for companies such as Cracker Barrel, Hooters, International House of Pancakes, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Steak & Ale, TGI Friday’s, Uno’s Restaurants, and Wendy’s. It also operates a network of several front groups, web sites, and think tanks that work to keep wages low for restaurants and to block legislation on food safety, secondhand cigarette smoke, and drunk driving.
I’ll try to swing by and get more photos of the ads because they are so varied and creative.
The second photo I posted sends you to a website, econ4u.org*, which has some useful information about consumer credit. The site talks about FICO scores and understanding debt, as well as ways to fund college. However, one part of the site seems a little out of place. The site is pro-payday lending, citing that a $15 fee to borrow $100 for two weeks sure beats a late fee for a credit card or a bounced check fee (that’s almost 400% interest).
It’s not what Berman advertises and lobbies for that gets to me. Someone has to present the other side of the argument that mercury is bad for you. It’s the front groups, the spin, the deception. If you’re not trying to fool people, you wouldn’t have to try to hide who you are and what you’re doing.
There was really only one ad being run at Metro Center. It was for Berman and Company, and the message was, "Look what we can do for your business, if we can even make drunk driving seem ok".
*Econ4u.org is a project of the "Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy", which is a project of the "Employment Policy Institute", which is a front group run by Berman and Company. Econ4u.org invites you to inquire with the State Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services for a copy of the financial statement. I intend to do just that.
All photos by Michael P of Infosnack. Released under Creative Commons, attribution requested.