Fear is frequently used to advertise many products, services and social marketing campaigns. It can be used to advertise home alarm system and insurance and etc. Also, it is also widely used in social marketing, discouraging unhealthy or dangerous behaviours such as smoking, drink-driving and alcohol abuse. Although using fear appeals in advertising has made some achievement to some extent, but some researchers found that the persuasive effect of fear advertising will reduce when the tension of fear increases (Mukherjee & Dube 2012). These following video clips show two examples of fear advertising used in commercial and social marketing.
As a negative emotions to the environment, fear is a strong motivator of attitude and behaviour modification, particularly when fear appeals accompanied by high-efficacy messages (Lennon, Rentfro & O’ Leary 2010). High level of fear tension causes fear and activates defensive responses, making audience, particularly those with most empathy and close relationship with the issue to escape from the message (Brennan & Binney 2010). In that case, many researchers suggested to introduce a sense of humor in fear advertising to reduce defensive responses and increase the persuasiveness of fear advertising.
Humor works in fear advertising in two ways. Firstly, as a fundamental ingredient of social communication tool, the playful nature of humor will provide a safety margin for audience, allowing them to elaborate the threatening message and aware their personality vulnerability to the threat. Also, humor effectively reduce the negative consequences of fear advertising, thus decreasing defensive responses to the advertising. Thus, despite humor cannot decrease the level of fear tension, it increases the effectiveness of fear advertising (Mukherjee & Dube 2012). For instance, dumb ways to die is regarded as a good example of mixing humor and fear in social marketing campaign.
Mukherjee, A, & Dubé, L 2012, ‘Mixing emotions: The use of humor in fear advertising’, Journal Of Consumer Behaviour, 11, 2, pp. 147-161, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 May 2015.
Lennon, R, Rentfro, R, & O’Leary, B 2010, ‘SOCIAL MARKETING AND DISTRACTED DRIVING BEHAVIORS AMONG YOUNG ADULTS: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF FEAR APPEALS’, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, p. 95.
Brennan, L, & Binney, W 2010, ‘Fear, guilt, and shame appeals in social marketing’, Journal Of Business Research, 63, 2, pp. 140-146, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 May 2015.