running scared

Fear. We all suffer from it at one point, it’s a natural human response to dark alleys, sharks and vampires (except Angel of course, he’s a nice vampire). Fear and its resulting fight-or-flight response has kept humans from being devoured by large predators for millenia.

Trading on fear has become the advertising profession’s signature success. I expect to be made afraid by security company or anti-cigarette ads, that makes sense. But I’m starting to see fear peddled for just about everything and most if these ads, perhaps predictably, is aimed at women. Safelite Auto is trading on the fear of being attacked by strangers in their new ad for windshield replacement. Cleaning products promise to remove evil bacteria from surfaces your children touch. If you don’t take our diet pill you will be fat and no one will love you.

Yesterday in the mail an insurance company sent me this advert for supplemental cancer, heart attack and stroke protection. Trading on the fear of the unknown, of family medical histories, of suffering and most of all the fear of dying, they will give me this supplemental insurance for a mere $20 per month. DON’T WAIT! is says in all caps. APPLY NOW! exclamation point. “Over 1.5 million people are expected to have a heart attack in 2010” is says with double asterisks. “This time next month you can breathe a little easier.”

No thanks to all of it.


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