The public's fascination with doomsday events...

16 replies
Oncoming crisis of cataclysmic proportions..

..the end of ____ as we know it...

...the DEATH of ____...

The public can never get enough of these types of doomsday prophecy memes.

The newest one in internet marketing, just starting to spin up, is the Great Gmail Slap of 2013.

Please don't debate the veracity of that particular freak out in this thread.

I'm hoping some of the very smart brains in this section will dig in a little and we can suss out WHY the public goes bonkers about them - and how to harness that energy for our greedy, money-grubbing clients and ourselves as filthy capitalist pigs.

Your thoughts?

Best,

Brian
#doomsday #events #fascination #public
  • Profile picture of the author Grain
    My humble guess is that the public tends to associate excitement with negative headlines, propagated by the media. We all live dead, zombie lives, and when something or someone comes along and breaks convention or comfort, everyone stands up and hears.

    Probably the concept of contrast.

    Contrast is relative to anything considered "nominal" now. We're wired to be attracted to contrast. Loud explosions, flashing neon lights, screams... All of those activate the limbic system in our brains and starts to pump out stress hormones and some pretty good adrenaline.

    We could look at some successful companies too. Like... Apple fans would look forward to the fall of Microsoft, or something like that. Even the concept of enemies come from the excitement from contrast.

    Well, I'm not very smart, so I hope it was a decent guess.
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    Good point Brian.

    I just feel that people, in general, are "hard wired" to be on the look out for danger and problems. Those things catch our attention more than happy instances.

    We all drive by a car accident and are looking in awe... yet the beautiful sights and sounds in any city, on any particular day, go unnoticed and unheard.

    That's why in almost all of my marketing, I'll start out with the doom and gloom and not the rosy picture.

    It's basically because of attention... you can't sell if you don't get attention and I think doom and gloom can attract more attention.

    that's why the news will always lead with the horror stories before the puppy dog stories... it's a matter of getting attention.

    And since we're all hard wired to avoid danger and death, I just think that pain and problems and negative doom and gloom stick out to us more than straight happy talk.

    Just my 2 cents...
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Grace
    I think it hits a core instinct of self preservation. Look at the preppers market, tell them about impending doom and marshal law, next thing you know you can't find ammunition anywhere.

    If the boogie man is coming to get you, you'll do anything to not let that happen even if that means living in a hole you dug in your back yard, stock piling canned ravioli, and arming yourself like a small militia.

    Hell look at money, most people dream at the thought of making say $10k without taking much action... But if they think someone is out to steal their $10k, they'll bust their but to protect it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    On a 'micro-scale' we know that our doomsday will come. It is
    inevitable. We're all going to die. So the idea that it could happen
    to all of us at the same time is not so much a stretch of faith.

    -Ray Edwards
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Fear of the future...

      For most people, sad fact of life.

      For marketers, useful emotion to stir up.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    I have a somewhat different take.

    My mom was (and is still) obsessed with "the system" breaking down.

    Whether it's natural disaster born, the fall of currency, the zombie apocalypse, etc., she was planning for the inevitability that life as we know it is almost over.

    Funny thing...

    I grew up very poor. We were homeless a few times, but even when I did have a roof over my head, she was always prepping for the end of days. (And she's not even a Bible Thumper.)

    I think a lot of these "preppers" are buying gold, silver, guns, ammunition, food, water, etc. because they want the world to end. They don't quite fit in. They want freedom from their bills and working worthless jobs to pay them. Sure, there's the whole self-preservation thing, but the obsession with things falling apart stems from a deep desire to for the status quo to be no more.

    My take...

    mark
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

      I think a lot of these "preppers" are buying gold, silver, guns, ammunition, food, water, etc. because they want the world to end. They don't quite fit in. They want freedom from their bills and working worthless jobs to pay them.
      Is your thought just an opinion, or is it based on research?

      From what I've seen in prepper-focused sales material, they're looking to survive not perish.

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Is your thought just an opinion, or is it based on research?

        From what I've seen in prepper-focused sales material, they're looking to survive not perish.

        Alex
        Yes, they want to survive. But they also want to see the system fall.

        People get off on the idea of anarchy. It gets them off the hook.

        Proof?

        Look at how popular The Bible is. All of Christianity is based on cleansing your soul for the end times... and hopefully going to Heaven.

        How about The Walking Dead? It's one of the most popular shows on TV. And it's all about glamorizing life after all of THIS ceases to be.

        Sure...

        You've got your conspiracy-obsessed preppers who see the writing on the wall and hoard accordingly. For them, it's just about surviving. Pure and simple.

        But I'd say there are probably more people anticipating the end of the world (or at least the end of our current reality) than just your basic, lizard brain-driven survivalists.

        Mark
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        • Profile picture of the author James Fame
          I have a pretty simple thought about it actually.

          We all have an inner streak to rebel, whether we realize it ourselves or not.

          Why... It's because we all value freedom. Especially in first-world countries where 'freedom' and diplomacy is often emphasized. When we interested in it, we are pretty much trying to decide if we should join the fight for freedom.

          Why do people hate a certain political party so much?
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Originally Posted by Mark Pescetti View Post

          But they also want to see the system fall.

          People get off on the idea of anarchy. It gets them off the hook.
          I don't see sales copy that depends on those assumptions doing very well in the "prepper" niche.

          Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    There's always a strain of doomsdayism in Western culture. The current fever might be attributed to recency bias. Add a little PTSD and heads are on swivels looking for where the next shot is coming from.
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  • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
    My thoughts are close to Shawn's and Don's posts.

    For me, it's about the lizard brain. The most basic of man's instincts is to survive. Anything that threatens "survival", you tend to pay attention to. Closely.

    Newspapers and tv networks sell news this way.
    Political parties acquire power this way.
    Religions convert this way.

    Persuasion 101 and done.
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    Scary good...
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  • Profile picture of the author ReferralCandy
    I do think it has to do with various factors. These are just my thoughts (might or might not be linked to research):

    Firstly, I think people have a fear of the unknown, and the future counts as one big fear. People worry about their exam results, whether they can find a job, whether they can keep their jobs, when they'll get promoted, if they'll get fired for doing something wrong, what will happen to me when my loved ones pass away, etc. We like to live a life of certainty, where we know what's happening, and how to deal with it. Doomsday events bring out very big questions, like, "Is the world really going to end?", "What's going to happen to us when the world ends?", "Will I enter the afterlife?", etc. It invokes very visceral reactions, and is very powerful because worry and fear are emotions that almost everyone feels.

    The second thing is that we have emotions and attachments invested in this reality that we live in. We have invested time, effort and sweat to earn/achieve the things that we have now, be it tangible (house, cars, etc.) or intangible (career, job title, etc.), and the prospect of losing them might be very devastating to some. The knowledge that everything you have worked hard for your entire life is now going to naught is pretty harsh. There was a doomsday prediction a couple of years back, and some people sold all their belongings in preparation for it. When the world did not end, they were interviewed, and asked to give reasons for why it did not happen. They all said that their prayers must have prevented the world from ending, and did not consider, even for a moment, that perhaps it was because their beliefs were misplaced.

    The third thing would be that some people believe that our suffering will end, and there is an afterlife after death. Be it reincarnation, or going to heaven, people like to imagine a life where they can finally be free of their problems, worries, and pain. We all like to believe that there will be peace after the storm. Doomsday events provide such an avenue to indulge in those thoughts.

    Just my two cents,
    -Hum
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    The doomsday prophecies that get the most traction are those that are specific.

    On this date, this will happen...

    Most people you talk to will say they believe something cataclysmic will happen...earthquake, meteor strike, etc., but it's always in the unspecified future and usually perceived as happening to someone else. A specific date suddenly makes the event personal.

    The lesson we can learn is that people take notice of specifics.

    If you're selling a diet program to mothers...a very broad statement would be something like: "Obesity causes heart disease".

    A more specific statement might be something like: "147,243 mothers died last year from sudden cardiac arrest due to obesity".

    Specifics can cause the reader to personalize the message.

    I just made up the heart stats as a quick example...but hopefully you understand the intended point.
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    • Profile picture of the author Memetics
      Statistics by themselves are hopeless in creating action in a prospect, our minds just aren't wired to allow them any emotional leverage.

      If you're going to use a "doomsday" scenario in your copy you have to personalise it to the prospect.

      Using your example of "Mothers dying from cardiac arrest due to obesity" your best course of action would be to tell the story of a mother who this actually happened to.

      She would be:

      35-45; just like them.

      Was a housewife; just like she is.

      Put on her weight just after her child was born; just like she did.

      Had planned to lose her weight but life got in the way; just like hers does.

      Loved her kids, husband and her home; just as much as she loves hers.

      Thought these things only happen "to other people"; just like she hopes.

      Died all of a sudden from a massive cardiac arrest that nobody expected........

      Because.....Your prospect is everyone elses..."other people".

      Once you have a face to empathise with, a personality with the same hopes, dreams, ambitions etc then the emotional brain kicks in and starts a desire, a need, for action.
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