The Role of Marketing in the Current Panic

People living in the developed nations of the world are in full blown panic mode right now.  

How much of what is currently happening is due to the impact of marketing over the last 30 or so years?


I am nearly 60 and remember well the type of marketing that existed back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and I, like others, in sales and marketing have moved over time with the trends to totally redefine how sales and marketing is now conducted.  However, the current pandemic crisis makes me wonder how much of what we have done as marketers over the last 30 years has in fact contributed to what is now occurring?

Below are two ad images from a newspaper published in the early 70’s. I browsed through this paper and was reminded about how factual all the ads were. Based very much on features of the product – what it did, how it worked, how you could buy it.  Move forward to the 80’s and while working with MSD Australia I was trained in how to sell using benefits rather than features. What benefits did the product offer the user rather than the features of the product. This was great because it allowed people to connect more with your product BUT it allowed into the mix “fear marketing”. Fear marketing means the use of “if you don’t do this you will die, lose lots of money, get very sick etc etc”  Think about advertising for medical issues, insurance and even dish washing liquid. The want a person to feel fearful for their lives or property when they read or hear the ad.

Combine this with the increase in the use of vaccines and the message that the only way we can survive common illnesses, like the flu, is to be vaccinated. Add to this the bombardment about how bad germs are. That your life is not safe unless your kitchen, bathroom, lounge room, car are not treated with a product that kills germs.  That children can no longer play in the dirt or get dirty. That every surface and every person needs to be squeaky clean. I have seen this in the comments about Covid-19 on social media. So many people who believe that until we have a vaccination no immunity can occur to this disease.  Getting it is a death sentence.  The message for many years is that life is no longer shortened by illness and that everyone should expect to live to old age. Don’t get me wrong all the advances in the treatment of diseases has been fantastic but at what cost to rationalism about how dangerous living can actually be. 

Look at where this disease is raging. USA, Italy, China, Spain, UK and a long list of first world countries. What is happening in third world countries where they are not bombarded with fear marketing and the dirt will kill you ideas?  Have we taught the two generations born since the 60’s to be constantly scared about what might happen and that dirty is dangerous?

NOTE: I am sure many will assume from this that I am anti vaccine. I am not but I do worry about the fearful message being constantly delivered. 

The combination of fear marketing and kill all bugs has resulted in a prefect storm of panic and fear currently being seen in developed countries around the world.

Top 20 Causes of Death in 2018

Living is a dangerous thing to do as you can see by the list of the top 20 causes for death. However it has become a much less risky process since the 1960’s due to the advances in disease prevention and management. 

The cude death rate means the number of people per thousand that die in any one year.  With a CDR in 2018 of 6.5 per thousand that meant that with a population of 25.17 million the death rate in that year was 163,605 people. 

The crude death rate (CDR) in Australia in 2018 was 6.5 vs 8.6 in 1960

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