"People who despise consumerism and advertising are usually just as guilty (possibly far more so) of seeking status through Veblen effects. The Guardian-reader who shops organically and holidays in Macchu Picchu is far more guilty of displaying rarity-snobbery than a Sun reader who goes to Burger King and Benidorm."
You got to love Rory Sutherland!
Great thesis. The only problem is that when the majority of the brands act as social levelers you will end up creating an anonymous and homogenized class of consumers.
That's why you have people trading up more often (the majority of the masses saving 3 month salary to buy a shirt from Prada) rather than trading down (the affluents eating McDonald's and flying EasyJet, for example).