Boycott Watch
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Ohio Panics Public
Editorial by Fred Taub,
President, Boycott Watch

   I have always hated "But Wait, There's More!" advertising, and I know I am not alone. These ads are meant to excite and rally people to buy a product, and I think most consumers hate these ads as well, as these are just one step below panic marketing, a.k.a. 'do this or else' ad campaigns, something not seen because it simply does not work. This raises the question who is the advertising genius (sic) behind the Ohio Pandemic Flu TV ad and website campaign?

   The TV ads, one of which is here, are scary and meant to get people to visit the site and rush to get flu shots, but there is no real need to induce panic to the public unless the sky is really falling. Yes, flu shots are important - we hear it every fall and winter, and doctors tell their patients to get flu shots which are available at pharmacies and even community centers. The problem here is that this campaign was clearly designed by people who know nothing about public safety - the last thing you ever want to do in a real pandemic or any emergency for that matter is to invoke fear and panic into the masses, and this is clearly not an emergency.

   Mass pubic fear causes panic and more people get hurt and are killed in a panic than in a calm situation - would you want airline pilot, police officer or fire fighter panicking in an emergency? Of course not - in fact, calm pilots have saved people lives numerous times, far more often than a panicked pilot ever could. As for police officers, the last thing I want to see is a panicked police officer with a gun in his hands. These examples should sum up the problem with panics.

   There are countless stories every police officer, firefighter and paramedic can tell you about the importance of remaining calm. Do you remember fire drills in grade school where we had to line up and walk in line? There is a reason for that - organized evacuations are faster and safer when people do not panic.

   So why in the world is Ohio using a panic technique to get people to get flu shots? In fact, one can also ask if Ohio's panic marketing violates truth in advertising laws - the fact is that we do not know if there really is a pandemic worry, and if there is, inducing panic is not the best way to resolve the issue. Traditionally, newscasts on Ohio TV stations have made it their business to cover these issues as a public service, and they have done an outstanding job at it, all without panicking people.

   On a national level, broadcast and cable newscasts keep telling people to get vaccinated. While the national media talks about the problems with these flu strains, they never panic the public, and if they did, the public, FCC, and Congress would respond quickly and harshly, yet Ohio is engaged in a public panic campaign. Ohio's fear mongering has to stop and whoever was involved in the project should be fired immediately, even if that includes Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D), as even if he was not asked for final approval, he is still responsible for the actions of his own administration.

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