Emotional advertising and fear appeals…

In advertising there are two appeals that marketers generally take; factual appeals and fear appeals. Fear appeals are most effective in communicating a message to younger less educated individuals. “Fear appeals have been thought of as messages that attempt to achieve opinion change” (Dillard J, 1994).

Examples of fear appeals and their messages include:

Smokingad4 (Tobacco Helpline, 2015)

Smoking is bad and has harmful effects on real people.

germs soap (Alex, 2011)

Use soap when you wash your hands because we don’t want to spread bugs onto things that are precious to us.

drink driving (Pixgood.com, 2014)

The horrific effects of a real life story of drink driving

cholesterol (Dach. J, 2015)

Get your cholesterol tested regularly at the doctors to avoid ending up in the morgue.

Fear appeal in road safety advertising

The instance of road safety is the primary issue I would like to focus on, as I have personally been affected by these appeals. As a young driver I was given a road safety course in high school. This course focused on invoking fear appeal amongst us young drivers. Methods used to create this fear included allowing us to sit in a truck and look in the mirrors to see how large their blind spots are, watching driving videos about driver distraction and the tragic consequences, and having guest speakers talk about personal real life stories of lost loved ones due to speeding, driver fatigue and drink driving. An example of a similar advertisement warning us against driver distraction is featured below.

These appeals relate to advertising as marketers draw upon the same appeals through expressing them in advertisements for the target audience to see. When effective, the fear elicited has a strong impact and a positive effect on society. The main objective of the fear appeal in emotional advertising is that “persuasion will follow from a state of fright” (Dillard J, 1994).

I feel that fear appeal has a highly effective impact on young Individuals as it shows them the reality of the consequences they face when making poor decisions such as smoking, drink driving, and taking drugs.


Dillard. J, 1994, ‘Rethinking the Study of Fear Appeals: An Emotional Perspective’, Communication Theory, Vol. 4, no.4, pp. 295-323.

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A, Carlsom, J, 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, NSW, pp.306-307.

nick1111341;s channel, 2009, PSA Texting while Driving U.K Ad, 25 August 2009, YouTubs, viewed 8 May 2015 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0LCmStIw9E&list=PL3F063BF48F794C37&gt;

Tobacco Helpline, 2015, Dont tell people smoking is bad show them, image, Tobacco Helpline, viewed 8 May 2015, < http://trytostopnh.org/media/tips/>

Dach. J, 2015, which would you rather have, a cholesterol test or a final exam?, image, Jeffrey Dach MD, viewed 8 May 2015, < http://jeffreydachmd.com/2014/05/art-curb-side-cholesterol-consult-jeffrey-dach-md/>

Pixgood.com, 2014, Jacqui Saburido Face Transplant,image, Pixgood.com, viewed 8 May 2015, < http://pixgood.com/jacqui-saburido-face-transplant.html>

Alex, 2011,Just liquid soap, If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy, image, The world of creative advertising, viewed 8 May 2015, < http://creativeadvertisingworld.com/just-liquid-soapiif-you-aren%E2%80%99t-totally-clean-you-are-filthy/>


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