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Friday, 17 May 2013

About Danger

Lately I talk a lot about safety on Befriend me
That is because of the launch of the Safety Currency.
There's only so much you can tell about safety, and I felt myself being pulled towards the opposite: danger.
One of the 3 main triggers in marketing.

Sex, we all know about that one.
Food, that no longer comes as a surprise either.
More and more often I see hotel websites using photos of tasty dishes, even before showing a photo of a room; exactly because the web designer knows that our taste buds jump into action. Our reptilian brain craves that food, wants instant satisfaction - but the only action we can take is click on buttons.
It is no miracle that websites offering pizza deliveries come with such a high, if not the highest average conversion rate: such websites can turn 10% up to a staggering 15% of their visitors into buyers.
The visitor was already thinking about eating (if not, he or she would not search for online pizza delivery), and seeing all those colourful pizzas and melting cheese... no, that's too much. No way that we are going to browse for another pizzeria, or compare prices. We click. We want it now.
Danger however, is less obvious.
But is it?
From reading a thriller or whodunit to watching a horror movie, from bungee to parachute jumping, from rollercoasters to backpacking through a country everyone warns us about... there is a strange magnetism between us humans and danger.
Rest assured, I won't start again about those hundreds of thousands of years, all alone with the sabre tooth tigre in the savannah! (Dracula, anyone? Vampires? Even Hannibal The Cannibal has got sharp teeth).
The best and surefire way to get your young kid addicted to cigarettes, is to forever repeat just how much you forbid him to do that (him, since males are more attracted to danger than females).
If our governments really wanted to protect us against smoking, they would forbid it. Easy as pie. But they can't. A large part of our economy and tax department depends on it. They do have to act as though they protect us. Dilemma...
So, there you go: "Smoking kills"! "Smoking harms your health"!
Everyone satisfied. Big Tobacco is, and the governments save face.
If you truly want people to stop smoking, you start by stripping it of its sex appeal (done), and replace the message of danger by photos of healthy, happy people.
(We would not say 'stop' or 'quit' smoking either; that makes a human feel to be a loser, a quitter. We tend to want to start something, not stop. 'Start a healthy life' or 'break free' would work much better).
Last year we performed a test in my small village. A group of people was led through the village, and then to a house where the door was open. Then we stood in the living room and hushed everyone to be quiet; the landlord did not know we were there.
Sure, part of the group followed because of the navigation: the guides acting all normally, as though it was part of the plan. Another part followed because they knew it to be set-up. But a 3rd part really thought we were entering someone's privacy and cooperated... because it was exciting. They felt like being naughty kids again.
Which, in the end, we all are and, sometimes, like to be.
Safety is the foundation of the Piramid of Maslow, and thus highly attractive. And as per usual, the opposite is also true: once the desire for safety has been fulfilled or secured, we feel the annoyingly attractive invitation of danger, to come and join, if only for a while.
Ben

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