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Here's to the Group, for Better or Worse
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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In advertising, we are charged to deliver messages that call consumers to action, whether that action is to purchase a good or service, to be aware of a certain idea or issue, or to be moved to join in a cause. Throughout history, we have seen that our efforts can be repeatedly trumped by the oldest trick in the book.

The voice of a group.

Yes, social proofing, the feeling of togetherness, the need to feel wanted and being a part of a group are the most powerful forces in our society. Time and time again, advertising campaigns fail and succeed based on the power of groups. That's why the advertising community vouches for "viral marketing;" once a core group of people catch it, it is only a matter of time for others to "want in" on the trend, and so it goes.

Of course, backing up the claim via research never hurts.

A group of sociologists at Baylor University found that the power of the group can move people to positive and negative activities. Yes, whether the group decides to make sacrifices for others or to "slack off," both events showed that people felt attachments and positive feelings for the group.

Not mind-blowing findings, but findings nonetheless.

Industry, government (like the British effort shown with this article), and advocacy groups have been trying to harness the power of the group. On the flip side, hate groups, gangs, and anti-advertising groups have been trying to do the same. Circle a group around a cause, issue, or brand, and watch it rise or fall. 

Though there are some cases where the individual can stand alone, nothing remains to be more spectacular than the force of the group.


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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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