They call it “Fear Marketing” or “Shock Selling” and it’s used as a marketing tool to scare people into buying a product or service or not buy a product or service, depending on the product or service, of course.
You know, like the advertising on cigarette packages with the emaciated patient lying in the hospital bed with hours left in their life or someone with advanced mouth cancer. Ewwww. Shocking, awful pictures but hopefully they are effective in deterring anyone from continuing to smoke or to pick up the nasty habit.
Now, I am not being judgmental here as I’ve had my share of cancer sticks over the years but I have quit and I’m uncertain whether the pictures on the packs ever deterred me from buying another pack of smokes because I’ve known since I started smoking in the 60’s that it was not good for my health. That said, the pictures made me uncomfortable enough to avoid looking at those ugly images every time I bought another pack of smokes. But I still bought the smokes.
The strategy can work, though. Fear mongering can even get you elected President of the United States. You tell America over and over and over again that a Muslim is going to kill them or a Mexican will take their job and they’ll believe it and they will even elect you President of the Excited States to protect you from those evil doers regardless of how irresponsible and reckless that philosophy is. Sorry about that…that’s a massive subject for a couple of thousand pages of diatribe in book form. I’ll move on.
Those cigarette pictures are a not-so-subtle Fear Marketing tactic but the A&W ads telling us about their beef, chicken, bacon and eggs being anti-biotic, hormone and steroid free is a milder form of scare tactic. A milder form, yes, but according to A &W’s Chief Marketing Officer the “Better Beef” marketing strategy, which they have been using since 2013, has been very successful for them.
Here’s the thing, though, according to Dr. Reynold Bergen from Canada’s Beef Cattle Research Council a 75-gram serving of beef from cattle treated with hormone implants contains two nanograms, (ng~one billionth of a gram), of estrogen. He says, “A person would need to eat 3,000,000 hamburgers made with beef from implanted cattle to get as much estrogen as the average adult woman produces every day, or 50,000 hamburgers to get as much estrogen as the average adult man produces every day. Also, considering there are about 45,000 ng of estrogen in 75 grams of white bread, the bun probably has far more estrogen than the beef!”
This is textbook marketing, then, if the people are actually sucked into thinking that eating the non-antibiotic/hormone/steroid food stuffs is healthier for them. It’s a fast food restaurant people! HELLO! They’re not selling you health food in there. This isn’t tofu and chick peas, you know. It’s greasy old burgers and breakfast sandwiches all loaded with the healthiest of all food groups….BACON! If you were really, really concerned about putting something healthy into your bodies you wouldn’t be in the lineup at the A&W. Just sayin’.
I guess it’s working for them, though, much to chagrin of the Canadian beef producers as most of A & W’s beef comes from somewhere other than Canada. Dr. Stuart Smyth from Saskatchewan’s SAIFood (Sustainable Agricultural Innovations & Food) calls the marketing strategy A(mbiguous) & W(rong) saying the marketing campaign misleads consumers about beef production in Canada. However, typical to today’s world, the information presented to the public does not have to be true and accurate, or anything, it just has to be effective.
“Money coming in says I’ve made the right marketing decisions.”- Adam Osborne author (1939-2003).