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Is Altruism Possible in Advertising?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Our society covers quite the spectrum of good and evil, does it not? Unfortunately for us, the evil part of the spectrum has been hogging the headlines, not really giving our good spectrum the time of day.

As we slowly put our minds and hearts back together from recent events, the thought of putting the welfare of others in front of our needs no doubt comes into focus.


In behavioral economic circles, there is a debate whether altruism truly exists. Whether given a certain situation, if people would truly put the welfare of others in front of their own needs, regardless of cost. Or, if by engaging in such action, those people actually satisfy an intrinsic need, therefore making the "cost" element void.

As 2012 comes to a roaring close, we thought it was fitting to address altruism in advertising. What exactly does that mean?

Are those who advertise able to efficiently and successfully use advertising for the greater good? Can AdLand use advertising to help society improve itself? 

We wish that the responsibility of such a change would start in AdLand, but it does not. We must communicate and demand that the C-Suite and the decision-makers of our clients positioning advertising to highlight the greater good is the way to go.

Similar to "goodvertising." But more than that.

Yes, we are asking for AdLand to stop reflecting the norms of society. We are asking for AdLand to portray the norms we all want society to have. It's a high request, no doubt. For right now, the "crapvertising" most of us see is out there because it works. So here we are, asking the powers-that-be to change the winning formula to something just as creative, but more wholesome and welcoming. Some good messaging via AdLand that people wouldn't mind letting their kids see.

Think it's possible? We think we, as a society, can no longer afford not to try it out.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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