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Copywriters ground advertising insight in their understanding of the consumer. In contemporary consumer culture, much meaningful consumption takes places in a communal, collective, and tribal environment. Advertisers and copywriters in particular would benefit from a culturally-grounded understanding of the language, meanings, rituals, and practices of the consumer tribes with which advertising seeks to communicate. This article suggests that the rigorous application of netnography—the online practice of anthropology—could be helpful to advertisers and copywriters as they seek this enhanced understanding. Netnography is faster, simpler, timelier, and much less expensive than traditional ethnography. Because it is unelicited, it is more naturalistic and unobtrusive than focus groups, surveys, or interviews. However, it still largely text-based, anonymous, poses ethical issues, is often overwhelming, can invite superficial and decontextualized interpretation, and requires considerable researcher acuity. In a detailed interpretation of a single newsgroup posting, I seek to demonstrate the level of cultural nuance required for quality netnographic interpretation and the potential of the method for generating technocultural insights to guide advertising copywriters.
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