Scared silly - MoneySense

Scared silly

Have you noticed the rise of fear-based advertising? Marketers have recently switched from enticing you to buy to scaring you into spending your money. Money you could be saving.


The most ludicrous example of this is the automatic soap dispenser. The first time I watched this ad with my daughter, we looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was a scare-ad gone bonkers! The premise is you won’t have to touch the soap dispenser where all the deadly germs reside, you can simply slide your hands under the dispenser and you’ll get a serving of soap. Hey, aren’t you about to wash your hands anyway?

Left to marketers, you’d spend all the money you should be saving warding off the heebie-jeebies. There’s the toothpaste that’s going to protect your enamel from eroding. There are the germs on your counter-top that will make your whole family sick. And there are the criminals waiting to steal your stuff, your car, your financial identity.

The thing that should really be scaring you is how easily you’re being manipulated into spending money you should be setting aside for the future. If you allow the fear-mongers to ‘motivate’ you to buy something you really don’t need, you’re not only leaving yourself exposed emotionally (why would you give them that kind of power over you?), but also financially.

While most of us are loath to admit the fear-factor works &#8212 it makes us feel like wussies &#8212 fear ranks as one of the strongest motivators and advertisers are blatantly using it to scare the britches off us.

Who hasn’t watched a home security ad and thought, “Gee, $24.99 a month is nothing for the peace of mind I’ll get from having the ‘free’ system.”  You may even have had the same thought watching the ID-theft ads.

You would think that in this day and age of rabid cynicism few people would fall for the fear-inducing marketing ploys, but fall people do. Before you follow your knee-jerk response to protect yourself and your family by coughing up some hard-earned dough to ward off the bogeyman, do some research. Don’t buy simply because a marketer has pushed the right button.