One of the most effective tools for Marketers and Advertisers is fear. They employ fear to sell products and services, their attempt to scare us into submission. Coupled with stark facts like “Every thirty seconds, someone dies of a heart attack” or “50% less fat than the leading brand” it becomes an almost invincible selling strategy.

Fear Ad

Sinister ads are being used by all companies these days. It is no more limited to pharmaceutical or insurance companies. Car brands are using crash test dummies to scare people, car tire companies are showing close saves due to better grip and batteries’ advertisements are showing instances of children wandering out of mother’s sight.  Some statistics say that about 50% of all advertisements are playing on fear.

Car Ad 2

Consider hand sanitizing products; everybody is using them now all the time, even though it hasn’t helped in removing swine flu, the reason it was introduced originally. All sorts of companies are using this element and this has gone so far that companies have become irrational in using fear as a tool.

Why are so many companies using fear in their advertising and why is it such a powerful tool? The reason is quite simple.

Fear in one of the most primitive emotions that evokes a strong response.  We have been doubtful about a lot of things right from birth. Advertisers and marketers exploit this weakness, the fear of unknown to connect with the consumers.  They tell us what bad might happen in case we don’t do what they say. Just as sex sells, fear sells too.

Fear may be one of the most effective tools for marketers but it has a flip side too.  In the cases, where public interest and the advertisers’ interests are not congruent, people might actually start to think negatively of the company.  Secondly, if not used properly, fear as an element might actually have a counter effect. A smoker might actually want to light a cigarette seeing an advertisement which says “Don’t Smoke”.

Advertisers need to realize these aspects. The age old saying “make them sick, then make them better” might not always work.

Mirk (Sahil Bansal)

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Image courtesy: Wacktrap, Autoblog