The marketing of fear

Fear is a powerful driver of decisions Without fear, no one would use seatbelts… you don’t use them because they’re fun, you use them because you worry about what would happen if you crashed without them.

The challenge of marketing with fear isn’t efficacy. Of course fear marketing works. The challenge is ethics and brand.

I got a note from Rob McGinley at Chubb Insurance today. Not a note, actually, but an official envelope, with the extra touch of bold red writing on the top of the official looking letter. Chubb, it turns out, is happy to sell me insurance against home invasion, carjacking, etc. The $110 a year includes coverage for psychiatric care and "reward money leading to the apprehension of the perpetrator."

I was incensed by this.

My clueless broker didn’t understand why. "It’s just like flood insurance," he said. Actually, it’s not. It’s not because:
1. Floods can be solved with money. Your house gets flooded, money can replace it.
2. The odds of a flood are fairly significant, in the scheme of things.

Scaring people (scaring good customers) to make $100 is stupid. It hurts your brand. It makes it less likely they’ll open the envelope next time. And most of all, it’s wrong.

You can do it, no one can stop you. You shouldn’t do it, though, because you burn brand trust and you can’t get it back.

Why not sell shark attack insurance? After all, almost a handful of people died last year from shark attacks.

[Andy sends this one along. Robots eat old people’s medicine:]