The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Lecture provides glimpse into struggling middle class

If anyone had been looking for an advertising student Tuesday night, chances are they could be found at the Angelika Dallas. Students and young professionals alike gathered in the small theater’s lobby prior to the annual Exxon Mobil Lecture Series: 1-in-3: A Documentary Look at America’s Dwindling Middle Class.

The event aimed to inform advertising professionals about the daily struggles of the 1-in-3 families in the United States living paycheck to paycheck through the short documentary and a panel discussion.

The panelists included Rosalyn Rawitscher, the vice president and group planning Director of Publicis Dallas — the marketing and communications agency behind the film — SMU’s own Carrie La Ferle, an Altshuler Distinguished Professor at SMU’s Temerlin Advertising Institute, and Tim McGehee, the group account director for CiCi’s Pizza
at Publicis.

“After seeing the film and really understanding the target a little bit better with these insights it really become what you get for what you pay,” McGehee said.

“It’s beyond messaging now, it’s really about concept change.”

Through a series of interviews with local families struggling with the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, the film gives an in depth look at the daily lives of the “1 in 3.” It manages to pull at the heartstrings without imposing overly dramatized storylines upon the audience. The families in the film aren’t looking for pity; they are simply looking to tell their story.

“They could have been my next door neighbor or coworker; and then something happens in their life whether it be a sick child, medical bills, a spouse or themselves being unemployed — and overnight their life changes,” Rawitscher said.

“What was so inspiring to me was their resiliency and their sense of optimism — how they turned the struggle around and focused on things that really mattered to them.”

Rawitscher, who helped manage online social content for Nestle Pure Life, used her own experience working for the company to demonstrate how advertising professionals are changing the conversation when it comes to lower income markets.

“The film really inspired us to understand these moms and how to face problems like how to cook healthy meals for less and suggest activities you can do with your families that are free or low cost,” she said.

La Ferle believes the problem of the shrinking middle class in the United States presents both a challenge and an opportunity in terms of advertising to this ever-growing portion of society.

She stresses that it is of the utmost importance for young SMU advertising graduates to recognize the individuality of people in the lower income strata and treat them with respect and dignity in their professional careers.

“When we see footage like that, that is something we need to pay attention to,” she said.

“These are worthy consumers that deserve a marketer that’s willing to take the time to learn how to best serve them.”

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