Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.



Justifiable Fear?

Something I read in the local paper got me thinking about when it may be justifiable to use the FUD tactic.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Salt Lake County was hearing public comment about their plan to spend $10.8 million to improve their water system. Their appeal? Public safety. Firefighters can't effectively respond to fires in the area because the system doesn't have enough water pressure. Lives and homes could be lost without this upgrade. Why now? A new fire district was taking over, and with jurisdiction changing hands, there is a small window of opportunity for the county to spread the cost with other governmental entities. If they didn't do it now, it would cost them more later.

While most of the citizens at the meeting opposed the plan, the county's message got through to some:
"I came against the resolution, but they have convinced me that there's a problem with the fire hydrants," said [resident] Linda Zenger.
So that leads me to ask the question, when is using fear, uncertainty and doubt justified?

In this case, I think county leaders were right because a) there is a legitimate public safety risk, and b) there wasn't much time to convince people by using other methods. As long as the county is telling the whole story so that their constituents can make an informed decision, this was a good call.

Are there any situations where marketers should use FUD?

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