A few months ago, I was being bombarded with Dominos adverts through all forms of communication, be they YouTube ads, Spotify ads, or leaflets shoved through the letter box. They all had one thing in common; proudly telling me they were “the official food of squads”.
The middle aged execs all sat down in their office, scratched their heads and thought the same thing – how do we make students like us? They seem to have picked up on ingroups and outgroups, and the social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986/2004) that builds on these concepts. It explains that individuals see groups they’re a part of as “ingroups”, and this influences how they behave. Social identification is one process, in which we act how we see people in our ingroup act.
Dominos tried to tap into this, by creating a public image that made them seem part of a student’s ingroup, even using language like “squads” that was prevalent in the student culture. According to the theory, students would therefore be more likely to pick them over their competitors, because others were apparently doing the same. It seemed to work; it would be hard to argue that they weren’t one of the most popular choices for pizza in the UK.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (2004). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In J. T. Jost & J. Sidanius (Eds.), Political psychology: Key readings (pp. 276-293). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press. (Original work published 1986).