Apple Watch Commercials and Fear-Based Marketing
It’s easy to point to these commercials as a blatant example of fear-based marketing, and condemn and/or dismiss them (and Apple?) accordingly.
But what’s harder to suss out is the fear-play built into most traditional marketing strategies, ESPECIALLY online. These are basic, deep-seated human fears that smart, unscrupulous marketers use to get consumers to make a purchasing decision from a place of low-key panic and insecurity, instead of trust and consent.
Fear of missing out. Fear of being left behind. Of not belonging. Fear of being shunned by society. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of getting duped. Fear of not living up to your potential. Fear of living a mediocre life. Fear of failure. Of rejection. Fear of becoming poor. Fear of getting fat or going grey. Fear of becoming irrelevant.
It’s important to know what your customers are afraid of, so you can TAKE GOOD CARE of them and not rush them into something they’re not ready for. It’s also important not to take advantage of those fears—or worse, deliberately stoke them to make a sale.
As service providers, as marketers, as humans—we are the stewards of our customers’ experience with us. We have a responsibility to do no harm, and to represent our services, our products, and ourselves in good faith.
I’m not saying an Apple Watch didn’t save these people’s lives—I’m glad they’re okay and got rescued, and I hope to see them on a future episode of I Survived.
But the implication that you might DIE if you don’t buy a fucking gadget is fucking gross.
And if you agree with me about THAT, but you haven’t quite made the connection between fear-based marketing, and, say, multi-millionaire life coaches, MLMs, or that high ticket mastermind you had your eye on…
Then it’s time to have a little chat. Contact me if you wanna talk about it… or go off in the comments. I can take it.
Samantha Pollack is a Copywriter & Creative Director who works with ethically minded, mission driven businesses who are actively trying to reshape our culture (and possibly tear down the patriarchy). She’s also the founder of The Highly Sensitive Business Owner, a 12-week online program that helps HSPs & neurodivergent business owners create healthier, more sustainable systems in their work.
Sam also writes about feminism, privilege, pop culture, entrepreneurship, the creative process, and whatever else is on her mind. She currently lives in Asheville, NC.
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