While listening to the Shadow lately, I’ve begun to wonder if our modern advertisers use fear tactics to sell their products. Well, the answer is a resounding and definite Y E S ! ! Just the other night during a favorite show, I was determined to stay on this one channel for a minimum of one hour and watch the commercials. What I found was a bit surprising… then after thinking about it for a while, I realized that not only does sex sell, but also ‘fear’ is the easiest way to strike a chord with people. I found that this base-emotion is used by the majority of advertisers.
So here are some of the commercials I watched in the order that they appeared. Not all used fear, but most began their pitch with something negative (because that's all we'll remember) before they went on to show how their product was the only way to solve this problem.
The first was a mattress company that absolutely ‘slammed’ their competitor for lacking in quality and for telling you lies about the product. Then they used the same lie about themselves, but changed the tone in the voice.
Next was an automobile that was distracting you with many different camera angels and activity inside a family’s car, while they were backing out of a driveway… when all of a sudden, a child was behind their car chasing a ball. The car’s back sensors and auto-braking system will apply the brakes before you and save the day.
Then a company, that we all know their little jingle, shows how sad and unfortunate it would be to only attend one vacation this summer. But guess what? You can go to both because they will save you so much money. Even the music changes and the colors get happier when this good news is shared.
A well-known local men’s-wear company came on next and did NOT start negative or slam a competitor. I was on a roll and did not expect this at all !! It was information about their top-shelf quality suits and about the special ‘two-for-one sale’ they had for that holiday weekend. Plus for every suit you bought, they would donate one suit to a returning Veteran, so they would be able to use it for job interviews. This was a powerful advertisement and I wanted to buy a suit because it was a GREAT deal… helping a Veteran was all on them, they were the good-guys for helping returning Vets. This was a great add...
Oh man, right back into the lying Toro Caca (Bull Crap) that I expected from some of these people. Shale Oil… They start out bragging that they have invested mucho dollars into research and development. It’s such a great thing for our country. “We’ll bring jobs to your area and strengthen the economy”. Then they quickly slipped in that in many areas where they were Fracking, they were offering FREE concrete liners for all the water wells. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot !!!?!?!?!?!????? Hello People… Why do they need to protect wells? If it’s so safe and great for everyone…
NOTE: My Humble Opinion: No one should be allowed to FRACK any where NEAR the ‘Great Lakes Drainage Basin’… on either side of the border… PERIOD !! Don’t freaking risk the best source of drinking water we have on the planet for any reason. Just Frackin Don’t !! This is NOT a case of not in my backyard, but real common sense. If you want fuel, then grow Hemp and make renewable ethanol from this weed that grows anywhere without pesticides and fertilizers. Evil, Greedy MFs that are risking our health and future for the dollar should be prosecuted, fined billions, and then sent to the moon to live.
Then we’re getting slammed with women flirting with their hubbies who have taken a pill… results may vary… you can be ready when the moment’s right. This is all fine and dandy, but call 911 if you get a woody lasting four hours. Are they bragging about their products effectiveness or warning people that it may not be safe to have that much blood flowing away from your brain for that long?
After that we get a few not-so-good commercials about a vehicle that traveled around the world and could be great for around your town, advance genomic testing so cancer won’t get you, a travel company that uses many sites at once that will save you time and money, a publisher trying to ask the question about liking $5,000 a week for life, a windshield repair company being better in their mind, taking 12 pills vs 2 pills per day for pain (boring), peace of mind from another, threats about high cholesterol being bad without their pill, blah blah blah buy a Hyundai, an introduction for a new and improved, longer lasting, a no side effects and guaranteed so try it now, more blah blah while fine print races across the bottom of the screen, and then back to exaggerations about a mattress store being better that the competition.
But what really got me going again, was when a BP spokesperson came on and claimed that they have invested billions in America while showing all this great scenery and wonderful images… but my thoughts were about how this money they spent was forced on them for the oil spill in the gulf and were fines to repay for the horrible damage. Investments my ass… they were probably feeling guilty for how they are perceived around the world and were running these Public Service Announcements to cover up an ugly truth.
FACT: These companies ‘seem’ to be selling products, but they are actually selling fear. Preying on people through this base emotion causes people to feel bad about themselves. We certainly must be ugly if we need make-up or weight-loss products. We will be lonely, sad, depressed, and be completely unfulfilled without the comfort only they have for us. We are made to feel as if we'll die horribly unless we quickly learn how to become savvy marketplace conquistadors…
CONCLUSION: It seems that since the beginning of civilization, and those first sales pitches among traders, product marketers have found out that sex sells merchandise, but what really works is scaring people. So when I make fun of the scare-tactics used by sponsors on the Old Time Radio shows, when it seems that they were not regulated on what could be said about their products… this actually started long before and is certainly still going on today. I will try to be more thoughtful before I criticize in the future. (NOT)
I would be happy to engage any comments
or a discussion on this topic (see below) . . .
or a discussion on this topic (see below) . . .