Michael Bergman Lacey October 1, 2008

FSBites: Our agency recently went through a couple of communication ordeals in order to correct false reports that we proposed regulating

1) lead ammunition and
2) residential car washing.

We used, in part, blogs to get out our corrective messages and one of the most vocal and common themes we heard back was: "It's a free country and I can do what I want". This attitude in its extreme form may be uniquely American in character. However, it no doubt exists to some degree in all of the cultures impacted by the European so-called Enlightenment. Have any of you purposely factored this attitude into a communication strategy? We use the message that "Most people want to do the right thing; they just need to know how", but maybe this doesn't go far enough. Have any of you addressed this radical individualism claim either head on or obliquely? Is there any research on converting individualistic viewpoints to communitarian ones, or at least to something like, "You're free to choose; make the right choice"? Or is this sub-group eternally 'brown' by virtue of its orientation and should be strategically marginalized in favor of audiences more susceptible to behavioral movement.