H.L Mencken was wrong, and given his sympathies — if he had any — with the “common man” probably didn’t mean this:
No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses.
Henry Ford, no Mother Teresa himself, put these words into action with his quip about the Model T: It was available in any color, so as long as it was black. We all have our love/hate relationships with companies, mostly because we perceive an attempt to manipulate or deceit in one form or another.
This lesson is and should be written in blood in the mind of everybody who is attempting to address an audience with the idea of communicating effectively:
Never mistake people for things.
Not only does your audience deserve respect; it’s imperative that you respect the people whom you wish to inform, persuade, help, entertain…that is, if you want to be an effective communicator.