The Marketing of Fear

I received an email today asking me to review a cleaning product and I turned it down. I turned it down because it seemed to be relying on the marketing of fear.

It's something I've been aware of for a long time, and it's been around for a long time, this idea that advertising, successful marketing, is often based on fear. I'm sure I've fallen prey to it myself.

But just as how I will not be forced to be afraid of food based on a perceived 'best before' date, so I try to remain above the advertising of products based solely on fear.

I prefer marketing to look at helping me, to make my life simpler without damaging anything else on the way. Tell be about useful things, don't try and scare me into using them.

And marketing at a parent it's easy to rely on fear, fear that your baby will have nappy rash if you don't use our nappies; fear that your baby won't sleep through the night unless you buy our sleep training program; fear that without this food or drink your baby won't get enough iron, or vitamins ;fear that you will look haggard and old and have no sex ever again unless you buy our hair dye and our makeup...the list is endless.

I really enjoyed hearing that new theories about allergies seem to point to the fact that we don't let kids have enough 'bug exposure' when they are little. For a long time it was said that a dog in the home helped kids grow up stronger, that breast milk (straight from that unsterile boob) was better, that 'we all eat a peck of dirt afore we die' and that 'a little bit of dirt won't kill you'. How many times as a parent do we invoke the 5 second rule on dropped food to avoid waste or extra expense

"hear, let me blow the germs away, the lolly is fine, just eat it"

The use of 'kills 99% of all known germs' products when the very 1% it misses may be the only actual dangerous ones annoys me. Yet as I work in a medical environment I'm very aware of appropriate hygiene. And that's the thing, appropriate. If I tend a sick person I ensure I'm as clean and as germ free as can be, but a 5 year old with a fine immune system? probably not so much to worry about.

So thanks for the offer but I'll stick with cleaning appropriately, keeping 'clean' rather than sterile and I won't let the odd smudge or bit of dirt on a kid worry me.

Now, must wash my hands.


  1. Well said!
    Oh the emotive pitches to parents. I HATE them! I hate the fear mongering and I hate anything that's an extra entry on the already long list of how we are failing our children.

  2. So very true! I was offered something similar to review and I politely declined. I wash my hands, I keep my kitchen reasonably clean and I'm extra careful if someone is ill, but I don't need extra scaremongering. Apparently we should all be washing our school uniforms hotter now! There's more scaremongering now than there was when my 13yo was born even - and my mum and dad managed to survive a childhood without hygienic sprays!


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