Fear. It’s What’s For Dinner


If we don’t vote for Johnson we will die? Little dramatic, don’t you think?

But Dino, I hear you’re saying.

Something blatantly fear mongering like this wouldn’t fly today, would it?

Watch this.

Political ads, safety ads, sure…they’ll use fear.

But not to buy products?

Oh yeah? Watch this.

Fear is a powerful motivator and advertisers tap into this every chance they get.

Advertisers have even devised a formula to better scare you into buying. Here it is.

4 Ingredients of Fear Pie

Hurl this pie at your friends on Twitter. Click here.

  1. Scare the hell out of ’em.
  2. Offer a solution
  3. Recommend action that is perceived as effective
  4. Make sure the target believes s/he can perform the action


Go back and look at that Lysol ad again. You will notice they followed the Fear Pie recipe to the letter.

A word of caution if you plan on using fear in your next campaign.

Fear can paralyze so don’t over do it. You want the public to buy, not turn to stone.


It’s best if fear-appeal is specific AND widely recognizable.

We’ll use an example from Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Our Sunny Dayz Sunscreen SPF500 can protect you and your loved ones from harmful UV rays, which can dry out and damage your skin and cause cancer.

This is specific AND widely recognizable.

Deterge-Sure, a detergent that protects clothing against UV damage is specific but it’s NOT a common concern (widely recognizable).


Another “fear rule” you want to follow is not to invent fears but tap into existing ones. Much easier that way.

Very common way of using fear to motivate a consumer into action is by using phrases such as “limited time offer”, “one day sale”, “good while supplies last” and so on.

Better share this with your friends on Facebook before it's too late.

In such cases, the advertisers are taping into the fear of loss (missing out on a “good” deal”) and scarcity principle (if I don’t buy now they will run out).


I recommend these books for further research.

(Amazon Affiliate Links)

Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is quick, easy, jam packed with great info.

The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille is in depth, well researched, head and shoulders above the other books in the similar vain.

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom Like the story of Goldilocks, this one is neither too quick nor too in depth but it’s just right for anyone who wants to have a really practical understanding of what motivates buyers. It rounds out the set nicely.


What is the most recent example of someone using FEAR to get you to buy something?

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • http://twitter.com/jaennutter Julie Nutter

    How interesting. You know, that second video (of the chef) actually made me jump….even though I knew it was going to happen. I don’t buy into a lot of this stuff – probably the reason why I don’t do Black Friday sales or sanitize my house at every turn. We are, after all, the number one country fro auto immune diseases because we overdo the cleaning, hand washing, etc. (Of course, there are times when it’s absolutely necessary, but really….)

    Well, while I say “I don’t buy into this fear crap!” I probably do without even realizing it… I’m trying to think of an example. Oh, well… I guess if you did a fear based anything to deal with dogs, I’ll sit up and take notice.
    Dog parks, visiting litters of puppies, etc… there’s a lot of fear talk in those.

    Hey, once you start to think about this…. Hmmm. It gets really interesting. TY for the brain-opener.

    • http://diyblogger.com/ Dino Dogan

      yup…there is A TON of “fear talk” around dog parks..there is SO MUCH we do out of fear its ridiculous. We dont even realize it 99% the time. (and 99% comes from a study I made up for the purpose of this argument lol)

      We hold on to jobs we dont like, partners (love and otherwise), habits, and on and on…

      Cool thing about it is that once you relise you’re doing it out of fear it starts to have lesser effect on us.

      I know, its a Descartian notion, but its true for many people…its def true for me.

      Speaking of Descartes, did you know that René Descartes was really really attracted to cross-eyed women?

      Turns out, after careful reflection, the reason he was attracted to them is because he had a nanny when he was a kid who was cross-eyed. Once he made that discovery/realization his fetish for the crossed-eyed ladies disappeared.

      Cool shit, ey?

      • http://twitter.com/jaennutter Julie Nutter

        Kind of creepy, actually. I think part of the problem for us and the boon for fear-type marketing is that we are so loathe to turn the thought process around and take a look at WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. We don’t want to look at ourselves under such a microscope, and so we keep on doing exactly as we’re doing. Sucks.

        • http://diyblogger.com/ Dino Dogan

          Getting used to the design/layout of my new home I see lol …Im glad 🙂

          I think it comes down to this. You CAN stick your head in the sand and leave it unexamined, or you can choose to examine it. Those who choose to examine it will have the advantage over those who choose not to. There. I said it. 🙂

          • http://twitter.com/jaennutter Julie Nutter

            I am getting used to it! Once I figured it out, it’s actually rather user-friendly. I don’t know how I feel about that! (lmao)

            I wish there was a button to like something x2903828916372813 instead of just “like.” “like” seems a little mundane for that last comment. I totally agree, although I’m sure there are points at which I knowingly choose to stick my head in the sand….in the interest of being overly honest. lOl

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the reminder,
    These are rather obvious marketing tricks, but I still fall for them from time to time. Interesting. Fear sells.

    • http://diyblogger.com/ Dino Dogan

      yup..these are definitely extreme examples (hmmm, are they extreme examples? I’ll have to think about that 🙂 We fall for them because our emotional response overrides every other reaction we might have. If advertisers (or dictators, governments, parents, teachers, and so on) can activate an emotional response their job is done.

      Anyways, thnx for visiting Derek, I loved the idea behind your website http://www.goalsblogger.com You’re on my list buddy, I will be keeping my eye on you 🙂

      • Anonymous

        Hi, Dino
        Thanks. I’ve been checking some of your posts and tweets as well. I’m looking forward to learning from you:)

        • http://diyblogger.com/ Dino Dogan

          It will be my honor to share what I know and learn from you as well 🙂

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  • http://twitter.com/AnnieAndreHacks Annie Andre

    Holly CRAP!!!!!! That sous-chef ad scared the heck out of me.  I didn’t even know what the commercial was about. But i’m never carrying a caldron of hot boiling oil in the kitchen again…

    Thanks for this break down. I am going to try a fear factor blog post and test how well it does…. LOL 🙂

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    How you doing, Dino? You must be busy these days. I hope it’s all going as awesome for you as I can imagine.

    Regarding fear, heck yeah, it sells. And it’s a lot easier than selling happiness. Because selling fear means something you actually don’t have to deliver on. Make sense?