Why Fear is The Most Valuable Emotion in The Advertising Industry

Insecurity shouldn’t exist. Period. But do you know why it does?

Because rich people are always finding more ways to get richer. Because advertising is becoming more sophisticated, and because money means more to some than compassion ever will.

Let’s go all the way to the beginning: how important are your emotions to you? Have you ever said something like “I FEEL like this is the right thing to do” to justify an action? Or said something like “I really FEEL like we shouldn’t go there” to reason against an argument? You probably have—that’s because as human beings, we revere the sincerity and intensity of emotions and use them to aid our decision-making in daily life. Unfortunately for us, we’re not the only ones who’ve discovered the power of emotions—multibillion dollar fashion and cosmetic companies have, too! Their one and only persistent purpose in life seems to be to make money… and then make some more money. For this, they need to find a constant and reliable source of revenue. Maybe it was after they watched Romeo & Juliet that they realized that strong emotions such as love can drive a human being to do just about anything—including influence and in fact dictate a society’s consumption patterns. So they set out on their journey that has forever destroyed any notion of self-love and contentment…

Let’s break it down. What are some emotions that can force people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do? Anxiety. Desperation. Low self-esteem… But there’s one big one that underlines them all. Fear. Fear is the singular most valuable emotion to advertising industries. Fear of missing out. Fear of looking unkempt or old fashioned or boring or ugly or “fat” or poor or unsuccessful or unhappy. They use our fears to make us buy their products. Fear therefore makes a great marketing strategy.

But for a person to feel fear, there needs to be a cause of fear. And then there needs to be a solution. And once the cause is created, and the fear is felt, then the solution can be sold to the fearful with the promise of elevating their fear.

So what did the advertising market do? To be able to sell a moisturizing cream, they stopped advertising the benefits of hydrated skin and instead began to advertise the dangers of dehydrated skin. A dull face. Wrinkles. Crow’s feet. Then somewhere along the line, they stopped selling the product itself. They began to sell happy emotions. They led, and are leading, consumers to believe that using skin cream is necessary if you want to feel rejuvenated, happy and young. If you buy a face exfoliating brush you are not only going to be getting that brush, but you will be buying youth. And beauty. If you buy that lipstick you will not only be receiving a pack of lipstick, but you will be receiving sex appeal. And style. If you buy that bottle of coke, you will not just have a drink but you will have adventure, and fun, and excitement. Watch an advert for Dior perfume—you don’t even see the perfume bottle itself until the last three seconds of a one-minute long ad. All you see is a beautiful, strong, confident woman frolicking about in the water or on a beach trying to fill up fifty-seven seconds’ worth of mystical allure.

You know what? Stop reading. Go to YouTube and search for an advert. Any advert. You can find some great content in Maybelline and Dior ads, and pretty much any ad for jeans; Tommy Hilfiger, Armani, Diesel. It helps a lot when we are able to view ads this way. Put on your thinking cap and really look at the ad. What is it saying to you? What is it really selling? A product or an emotion? What kind of music is playing in the background and what effect does it have on you?

Once you’re able to understand the driving force behind adverts, you will be able to figure out what it is that you need to build in yourself to be able to detect and resist the subliminal messages imposed on us through advertising. The advertising industry has a simple strategy: instill fear and keep playing on that fear. If they truly cared about us and our well-being, they would offer us ways to be more self-loving. But if we begin to appreciate and value ourselves, then we don’t obsess after their products anymore, and we stop running to the MAC store the moment we run out of some liquid foundation. And they can’t have that. The entire industry would collapse if we just stopped being fearful. Please really think about this: Your insecurities are not real. You have been made to feel like you’re not skinny enough or fair enough or pretty enough just so that someone can make a billion dollars a year.

Our bodies are naturally self-correcting, and if you give your body what it needs, it will undoubtedly result in healthy skin, hair and nails. Nutrient deficiencies can trigger a lot of skin problems, and most of the time we can get all those wonderful things like brighter skin or healthier hair by just eating right. Maybe, just maybe, if we stop endlessly slathering our skin in hydrating moisturizers and actually drink a few glasses of water, we won’t need all that lotion in the first place. In fact, sometimes the products themselves can worsen the issue they’re meant to fix. So be cautious about that too. The more lip balm you use, the more you will need it because lip balms often contain alcohol which in fact dries our skin. The more anti-prespirant you use, the more you will need because anti-prespirants block your sweat glands and disturb the bacterial balance in your skin, causing stronger body odor. So do your research and make sure you’re giving your skin the proper and most natural treatment that it deserves—that’s the only way you’ll see any lasting impact.

It’s not easy! In a world that actually secretly insists on breaking our self-confidence, you have to be clever. Be curious. Be alert. And aware. Outsmart them by choosing to appreciate yourself and your life. Don’t strive for a level of physical perfection that in reality doesn’t even exist. You’re better than that. We all are.

This article is written by Zainab Karim.