Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Advertisements in North America – Prey Upon Fear – With An Ethiopian Eye

The holidays are around the corner and advertisements are now seen and heard everywhere – on radios, TV and online. Therefore, I decided to discuss about advertisements and marketing in North America. Yes, in North America, I noticed that the advertisements are not the same as what I grew up with. The ads here are intended to scare people into action. So, here is my rant about advertisements from my point of view.

Ethiopian Ads
Growing up in Ethiopia, I really enjoyed watching advertisements on TV. For instance, I remember a Pepsi commercial featuring Pele, the greatest soccer player of all time. We would watch the slow motion kick of Pele and how he enjoyed drinking Pepsi after the game. I and all my friends consumed so many bottles of Pepsi during our teens, just to imitate Pele. Yes, the ad worked for Pepsi. It was innocent – kids and grown ups fell for it.

Radio Talk Shows
The scary thing is, it seems that many people are unable or unwilling to draw the distinction between entertainment and information, and for them talk radio shows become less about entertainment and more about providing them insight. The type of insight which is based upon rumor, falsehoods, distortions and flat out lies. The type of insight which makes me question the true intelligence of the common man. The type of insight, which reaffirms my belief that the ignorant and the uneducated are easily influenced by those who are adept at preying upon fear.

I admit that if I’m near a radio, I will sometimes tune to talk radio to be entertained … but that is where it stops. I admit and recognize that talk radio exists for one true purpose, and that purpose is to entertain rather than inform. If you want to be informed you can listen to the news, if you want to be entertained (and you aren’t particularly interested in sports), you have talk radio.

On talk radio shows, you can hear how they believe one political party is the source of all that is evil and how if you don’t vote for the other party your children and grandchildren will be those that suffer. Time after time, after time, if you toss aside all of the fluff and excess, when you objectively look at any given subject you will find the basis is nothing other than fear. The pundits know if they can scare the listener, that listener will keep coming back for more.

Fear, Fear and Fear
Because when you really boil it all down, that is what it is all about … fear. You can listen to the programs themselves and hear about how a certain disease (say H1N1) or a specific government program are going to ruin our way of life.

Nowhere is this concept more obvious than the one time you would expect the theme of fear to be absent. I’m talking about the commercial breaks in between segments, and if you take some time to actually listen, you will soon discover that the advertisers have found a niche market, and that niche involves the concept of fear.

Millions upon millions of dollars in advertising are spent every year, and it is very obvious that those marketing firms know the true demographic listening to talk radio at any given point is one built upon fear – thus they cater to, and profit from, that demographic.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the list below of some of the advertisements presented during the commercial breaks of talk radio shows and TV programs.

Alarm Force – appealing to the fear of burglary or home invasion.

Tax Planning – appeals to the fear of Revenue Canada “stealing” money or leaving a person destitute.

Various Gold Investing Firms – preying upon the loss of net worth in the stock market and retirement plans. Also suggests the apocalyptic scenario where paper money holds no value.

Law Firms specializing in Personal Injury Lawsuits – Appeals to the fear that surviving family members might not be taken care of in the case of severe disability or *gasp* death. Also appeals the desire to hold someone or something else accountable for anything bad which might happen in one’s life.

Life Insurance – again this appeals to the fear that loved ones won’t be financially secure if the primary bread winner is no longer around to provide.

Carbonite Online Backup Software – appeals to the fear that a computer will crash resulting in the loss of financial data, vital documents, or irreplaceable files, photos etc.; encouraging people to sign up for their services.

Medications – appeals to the fear that health problems (namely cancer) will end a life prematurely.

Debt Management and Debt Collections services – appeals to the fear that ‘evil’ corporations will take all of a persons earnings leaving them with nothing.

Legal Will – appeals to the fear that a person will die without a proper will or living trust being established. Also appeals to the fear the government will seize assets leaving surviving family members with nothing.

Performance Enhancers for Men – making older men fear that they won`t be able to do it when the time is ready for action 😉

Financial Institutions – scaring people by saying … “in this economy” … in every sentence

So, as you can see, between disaster coverage, legal services, and various forms of self protection services, all of these products have one thing in common. They all appeal to some level of fear.

Now, if this were only a small percentage of the ads or if I cherry picked these ads over a period of two or three months, it might not be all that indicative of a larger issue, but the fact is every single one of these advertisements were heard within 90 minutes of talk radio. Not 90 days, not 90 hours – but 90 minutes. On other days, you might be able to hear the same ads or slight variations of them time and time again, and there were very few other ads that weren’t based in some way upon fear.

On the radio, I never heard a commercial about cleaning products, toothpaste, tea, coffee, gasoline or shampoo.

Conclusion
Time and time again, day after day, the vast majority of ads I ever hear pertain to fear, and the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that advertisers know the target core demographic that tunes into talk radio on a daily basis is scared. They might be scared about their finances or scared about their health or scared about the government, about home security, or maybe just scared about common sense or logic – but in some way these people are scared.

So, if the advertisers know it, doesn’t it make sense that the talk radio hosts know it as well? Don’t kid yourself – they know it, they count on it, and they prey upon it… that much is certain. So, maybe the next time you hear someone quote something direct from the mouth of a talk radio host, you should ask yourself … what are they afraid of?

Yes, I now think that you agree with me that fear sells!

My next blog entry will be on Thursday December 03, 2009.

Mullkam Samint!

November 26, 2009 - Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian Food, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Proverbs, Ethiopian Relationships, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopian Sports, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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