Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.
I've wanted to blog Kathy Sierra's post -- Think, or Be Afraid
-- ever since I read it about a week ago. Kathy is the brilliant creator of the Head First programming books and primary writer of the Creating Passionate Users blog
. She contends, correctly, in my opinion, that you can't think and be afraid at the same time. It's an "either, or" proposition.
Of course, marketers know that and capitalize on it. Kathy says:
Imagine that you did want someone to be afraid, because you specifically do not want them thinking rationally and logically. What if your goal is to convince them to do something that's not in their best interest? One approach is to make sure that they stay as fearful and anxious as possible, to make it more difficult for them to focus and think rationally. What if your goal is to convince them to do something that's not in their best interest? One approach is to make sure that they stay as fearful and anxious as possible, to make it more difficult for them to focus and think rationally. It's a trick that's been used by governments, managers, manipulate family members, and advertisers for ages.
Case in point, Kathy, is the advertising that OnStar is doing to promote their product. They're using kids speaking directly into the camera and urging us parents to use OnStar because it's the next big thing in safety. The commercial intimames that parents aren't doing everything can to keep their kids safe unless they have OnStar. That's a lie, a bold-faced one at that, and I hope the campaign falls on its face. Remember, if we're marketing to our audience's fears, we're talking down to them. Not a good long-term business strategy.