Multinational Monitor

JUL/AUG 2008
VOL 30 No. 1


No Escape: Marketing to Kids in the Digital Age
by Jeff Chester and Kathryn Montgomery

The Youngest Market: Baby Food Peddlers Undermine Breastfeeding
by Annelies Allain and Joo Kean

Intoxicating Brands: Alcohol Advertising and Youth
by David Jernigan

How Things Work: The FTC's Revolving Door
by Robert Weissman

Fighting Demons: Addressing the Perils of Financial Innovation
by Richard Bookstaber


Commercializing Childhood: The Corporate Takeover of Kids' Lives
an interview with Susan Linn

Pill Pushers: Pharmaceutical Marketing in an Overmedicated Nation
an interview with Melody Petersen

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping
an interview with Bill Talen

The Debt Creators: Shady Lending, Misleading Marketing and Hard Times
an interview with José García


Letters to the Editor

Behind the Lines

Marketing Mania, Commercial Colonization

The Front
Freedom Flows in South Africa | Development and the Desert

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Greed At a Glance

Commercial Alert

Names In the News


Greed At a Glance

Short Hops for Deep Pockets

The super-rich in Russia and China have really arrived. The proof: Both nations now sport a fledgling luxury helicopter industry.

In Moscow this past May, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov opened a three-day “HeliRussia” exhibition that featured domestically manufactured helicopters outfitted, news reports noted, “with the same walnut parquetry, flat-screen televisions and leather sofas favored by Middle Eastern heads of state.” In China, a Shanghai firm is partnering with Sikorsky, a top global copter maker, and has already collected over a dozen orders on sleek new whirlybirds.

Still, the real luxury helicopter action remains elsewhere. In the UK, Sikorsky’s S-76 model is fetching $8 million a pop to buy and $5,000 an hour to charter. London power suits, the Guardian reports, seem to prefer charters. Notes PremiAir charter’s David Langton: “Companies these days use helicopters for any number of reasons. Once we flew to Scotland to pick up a dinner jacket someone had forgotten.”
Extreme Wealth Down Under
In Australia, the Labor Party has only enjoyed a governing majority since December 2007, but the new Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, seems quite a bit more willing to challenge concentrated wealth than his British Labor Party counterparts.

His government’s latest move: Tax officials have announced a sweeping campaign to catch wealthy tax evaders by matching tax records against lists of luxury car owners. The government, the tax office noted, will be looking at taxpayers who hold assets that would indicate “conspicuous wealth.”

The most conspicuous of Australia’s wealthy now appears to be Allan Moss, the CEO of the Macquarie financial group. He retired in May with an exit package worth nearly $80 million.

The Sinking Queen

How much has the UK changed since the Times of London began publishing an annual list of Britain’s 1,000 richest? The queen herself may be the best marker. In 1989, the year the “Rich List” first appeared, Queen Elizabeth II ranked first, with a fortune worth $640 million. On the recently released 2008 list, the queen ranked 264th.

The top 25 on the latest Times list all sport at least $4.5 billion in net worth. The wealth of the UK’s 1,000 richest residents, overall, has quadrupled just since 1997. Leaders of the Labor Party, Britain’s ruling party for all those years, have dismissed concerns about the UK’s rapidly concentrating wealth. Society, they’ve argued, should focus on ending poverty at the bottom, not wealth at the top.

How has the UK been doing on ending poverty? The percentage of British children living in official “severe poverty,” the Times notes, now stands “no lower than in 1997.”


Do all rich people spend small fortunes to buy luxury trifles? No. Some rich people, a new survey from Prince & Associates shows, spend small fortunes renting luxury trifles. A quarter of households worth over $10 million in the United States plan to rent a luxury item this year, says the survey.

Among the somewhat less rich, those households worth only between $1 million and $10 million, half plan to rent a luxury item. The luxury rental these households yearn for most: luxury handbags! Not a bad idea. Judith Leiber bags can run nearly $5,000 retail. Low-end Leibers rent for just $229 a month.

Banking on Art

Carola Wiese, a 31-year-old German, has a cushy job. She jets the world visiting art galleries. She glides into exquisite private homes filled with great artwork off-limits to the general public. She rubs elbows with famous painters. Now here’s the strange part: Wiese works for a bank, the Swiss UBS AG. Her mission: helping the global mega rich invest in fine art. And she has 13 investment banker colleagues at UBS who do the same exact work she does.

This year’s most exotic stop so far for art-loving investment bankers: the Hong Kong International Art Fair, a global extravaganza that entertained the awesomely affluent this past May. The fair featured 100 top galleries under one roof, hawking both Picassos and current talents like Zhang Xiaogang, a Chinese painter who earlier this year sold an oil painting at auction for $6 million, twice the predicted price.

Worldwide fine art sales are now bumping $1 trillion a year.

— Sam Pizzigati, editor of Too Much,
an online weekly on excess and inequality

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