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Scare Tactic Advertising

We love Halloween season here at the office. What’s not to love about costumes, decorations and tons of chocolate?? We also don’t mind a good scare every now and then...including in advertising.

But why is fear such an effective marketing technique? Fear can cause us to worry about the unknown and our doubts. And when a product is shown to absolve those fears, it makes the selling proposition all the more powerful. Fear is inherent to humans, and it can make an advertisement feel more human too.

Here are some of our top picks for effective scare tactic advertising:

The Center for Disease Control’s Anti-Smoking ads - these are actually quite graphic so we won’t post them here, but they proved very effective according to Adweek (http://www.adweek.com/digital/the-cdcs-anti-smoking-scare-tactics-prove-effective/). They use physical deformities as a metaphor for the true cost of smoking, and the images can be quite disturbing. But it does show an accurate depiction of the effects of smoking on the body. Not only does it use physical fear, but also social fear. One of the ads portrays a cigarette as a contract, binding the user to always be forced to step out for a smoke and miss time spent among others.

Brink’s Home Security - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMIYVDuyX1Q . This campaign focuses more on the personal safety aspect of fear. It shows how a home security system from Brink’s can help you sleep more peacefully at night and remove your fear of something happening to your loved ones.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gMIYVDuyX1Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Mercedes Crash Test - https://adsoftheworld.com/media/print/mercedes_crash_test This ad, though print and not a video, is still effective to elicit fear in the audience, especially if you or someone you know has been in a car accident. It also plays on physical safety for the individual in a creative and shocking way.

Fear can be a useful tactic for advertising, one that hits home with the consumer and makes them feel connected to the product. So feel free to use any of these as costume ideas for Halloween.

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