Friday, 16 January 2015

All is fear in love and marketing

Fear sells. 
After sex and food it's the 3rd most sensitive human trigger - and thus the 3rd most used button in marketing. 

Fear, danger, urgency, warnings sell unlike anything else. 

I notice this all the time. So far I wrote 132 blog posts, loving marketing and searching for insight - and then look at the list of most read posts. It basically includes every article with a warning. Making me look like a rebel. Which I'm not. 

And it seems that not only commercial brands study psycho-social triggers: here's a cut-out, blurred and minimized - and you will still recognize it. 

Maybe only Coca-Cola has this level of 'Brand recognition'.

Marketing is both less expensive and more powerful than a tank - and someone at IS clearly knows what the most successful marketing campaigns have in common (and is very good at applying all techniques). 

Our fear radar is very sensitive. Hence why the radio no longer speaks of snow but 'snow misery', not of a warm day but 'heat alert'. Or why IS is going over the top, taking instilling fear to the highest possible level. 

(What amazes me most is how the western media go with the flow right now, adding injury to insult to tactic. Personally I switch them off, for if I didn't I would be in a permanent state of anxiety). 

And all this because we members of the human species have got a very long experience with extreme danger. We can even say: addiction

Do you remember smilodon, the sabre-tooth tiger?

You think you don't? An adversary from 2 million years up to only 10.000 years ago? 

We might have forgotten him in our Neo Cortex, but he still pops up in our nightmares, that world of monsters and long teeth. You'd think that by now the bad guys in our nightmares have got machine guns or bombs, but no, they are still Vampires, Dracula, Hannibal Lecter and the more unfriendly alien. 

You don't easily get rid of a pattern you've been practising for, oh, a few hundred thousand years. 

If we're not busy fleeing danger, we're busy chasing it. It's magnetic. 'Smoking kills' is a clever marketing strategy, not meant to make you stop smoking. Since you can also get immune to a sense of danger, marketers forever have to up the ante. 

The Whodunnit has to become a Thriller that has to become a Horror movie, until we're only still scared if a movie is about a gathering of 12 serial killers of whom at least one targets the whole planet. 

The message 'Smoking Kills' will be replaced by photos of diseases. In 30 years from now they might throw in a free skeleton with every pack of cigarettes. Or the Tobacco shop will be decorated as a haunted house. 

(One doesn't dare to imagine what IS will do next). 

I can't count the marketing messages that either target your desire for safety, or your wish to flirt with danger. 

"We should fear nothing but fear itself"
Rationally, we know that to be true. 
We know it's the one and only reasonable and right reaction. 
We know it's the only dignified attitude, triggering the least chain reactions. 

But it takes a Hercules, having control over his limbic and reptilian brain, to actually act upon it. Danger is a button unlike any other. And so it comes that millions are glued to the TV right now: looking for clues if there's reason to feel fear, and if so, how much, and because of whom.  

OK, we just went through the siesta of the lovely, newsless 80s and 90s. So everything that happens right now is like the landing in Normandy, Warsaw ghetto uprising and abolishment of slavery rolled into one. Who of us can say there's not a big ghost sitting on our shoulder calling the shots? 

(Damn that Hitler, that he can still poison our feelings today. But, well, there you go, if Smilodon still can,  than Hitler for sure. We're forever busy fighting the dangers of yesterday). 

So, there we go, even in the midst of our most cosy, peaceful moment... we just have to press the danger button.

For sure somewhere on Facebook there's something that will upset me? Damnit, nothing - maybe if I go to a page of people who believe the opposite of me?

For we just have to look into the cliff, have to test the ice, have to bungee jump or try that roller coaster. 

Think of that the next time you get marketing emails or offers telling you: 'Don't lose out on...', 'you risk to get behind...', 'your pension will...'.

It's a marketing technique. 

It's a given that this article will end up in the list of the most read ones - and not because it's the best one.   


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