Friday, April 22, 2005

Pay a lot of attention to the man behind the curtain.

When you're done reading this, click on the title of this blog - It'll take you to

But don't do it yet. Wait until the end of the blog; an interesting experience awaits.

Until then...

In the movie, "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy, the Tin Man, The Lion and the Scarecrow wanted to see the Wizard. The Wizard was supposed to hold the knowledge for Dorothy to leave the wierd world of Oz and return to her farm home in Kansas.

After a harrowing journey, the four finally get to meet the Wizard. This keeper of wisdom and knowledge turns out to be a terrifying mint-green head that scowls and yells - those who meet with the wizard are bullied into cowering submission.

Thunder, smoke and lightning - "WHO DARES TO SEEK THE MIGHTY WIZARD?!"

People shaking, quaking, biting their nails..."Wh'wh..why, it is...I, m-m-mister wwww-wizard..."

While Dorothy, the Tin Man, The Lion and The Scarecrow wet themselves in awe, Dorothy's little dog toto walks over to a benign curtain and, curious about the strange activity that seems to be going on from behind, innocently opens the curtain to reveal that The Wizard is actually just a quirky old man who's manipulating the entire experience.

There is no mint-green, scowling wizard.

It's just a guy with a machine.

Suddenly, Dorothy & Co. are no longer afraid. In fact, they get rather mad at the "wizard" and rightly so.

Fear is a big business.

Fear is effective business, that's for sure.

One of advertising's most effective tools is "fear." Fear you won't be liked. Fear you won't succeed. Fear you won't have the right knowledge. Fear you will end up in danger.

As a motivational tool, Fear is a prime driver. Fear puts a promise - a tangible face - the unknown.

In some cases, fear can be helpful - Cancer Insurance, for example, might be good if the evil "Big C" ever shows up. But, if one never gets cancer, Cancer Insurance is a waste of money. Sure, the peace-of-mind has a benefit, but would the money spent on Cancer Insurance buy just as much "peace of mind" if it were spent on a trip to Fiji?

You could die in a car wreck tomorrow and all that thought, worry - FEAR - about cancer were for naught. You should have been worrying about a CAR WRECK!

Did you buy a Lexus because their reliability wouldn't leave you on a stranded road?

Did you buy a Bentley because a Lexus was sort of, common?

Did you take the promotion because it may be the only chance to get to the 'next level'?

You get where this is going...and chances are good you're coming up with a hundred arguements against the hidden logic that fear is ruling your, our lives. And if you're coming into acceptance of this prime-driver 'fear', you might be tempted to think that "a little bit of fear" is good.

"It's good to fear rattlesnakes."


"I should be afraid of serial killers."

Make no mistake about it - there are threats to peace, health and happiness out there.

However, fear is just one motivator. The other - as often stated - is a word that's less-often understood; Opportunity.

One word controls.

The other word empowers.

Yet one or the other is going to be the prime driver in decisions - individually, corporately.

The marketers of information know this and frankly, "Fear" is the easiest tool to use.

Fear dictates the terms of its own engagement. Fear puts someone, something else in the position of authority.

Opportunity, on the other hand, is self-driven. It puts the owner in the position of authority.

"If you die tomorrow, will you have enough money to feed your family?" (fear)


"What can I do to increase my wealth?" (opportunity)

"If I wear Brand X shirts instead of Wal-Mart shirts, I will look better." (fear)


"It is cold. I need a shirt to keep me warm. I personally prefer green shirts." (opportunity)

This seems all-too basic. All-too common-sense. All-too easy to circumvent.

But this fear-based motivation is so pervasive, you may not be aware of the man in the curtain.

Click on the headline - it will take you to It could take you to,,, The New York

It could take you to your local news.

It could take you to the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.

It could take you anywhere messages are peddled.

(no offense, CNN!)

But when you get there, count the number of headlines that are negative. Count the number of headlines that feature some kind of controversy or conspiracy.

Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it next week.

You'll get the same result - there are a lot of negative, fearsome messages out there and they're coming at you day after day after day after day...

Joseph Goebels, the infamous Minister of Propaganda for Hitler's "3rd Reich" practiced the philosophy of, (paraphrased) "If you tell someone something enough times, they will believe a lie."

Now, it's very useful to know when there are serial killers about. But do we need to know the details of their victim's awful deaths?

It's assuring to know that unethical CEOs are going to prison. But do we need to analyze their wrong behaviour?

It's important to understand the plight of our soldiers while they are away at war. But do we need to see a soldier's mom crying in front a protester?

What good - real good - does it do?

Are people really more attractive because they wear X?

Will people really spend more time with their family if they use Quick-ee meals?

Are all-you-can eat buffet's really a good deal?

The result of this exersize is simply to pull the curtain away - to reveal the quaking, the shaking, behind the curtain as well as that which goes on in front of the smoking phantom...