Fear Advertising | How Fear Works | The Big Bird Story

There is something about fear advertising that tends to rivet attention of the highly strung almost at once. I can relate how fear works with my own personal little story. I remember distinctly how it used to spellbind me into thinking impossible stuff; create fanciful possibilities that would slither me towards a paved path. I guess life’s kind of like that. We have been following roads for the stark fear of things, of misgivings lurking on the pavements that might hurt us if we don’t.


Growing up I found my life brought in check occasionally by quintessential elements. The fear quotient made its way gradually just like it did for everyone else. I comprehend how fear works from that anecdote the most.

From unknown unseen things that could hurt me, to savage animals who could definitely, the advent of fear-avalanche was nailed in by everyone around me. My parents are to blame there I guess. They riveted that notion of fear by scaring me into eating morsels of food that I abhorred. They said if I didn’t, a lion might show up in the room. The wuss in me would slurp up the abominable just to defer that encounter. My mother would often scare me with a:

Do not go to sleep empty stomach or a big bird will come and take you away.

Hours spent in stark apprehension, I would try to put a contour on the inanimate. I distinctly remember myself wondering out loud:

How would the bird come in here? If it’s a big big bird, how big are we talking about here? What would it look like? 

animation of big bird ripping the roof apart how fear works fear advertising

Hungry, I will always be on the lookout for the bird to appear from somewhere. That it will tear the roof open one day, making me run to hog like a pig. I would wonder what if it caught me off-guard? When I am not really paying attention, what would it do to me? My head would then spin all the way up and down scaling every corner of the house for safety precautions. I would shudder at the very thought of meeting the bird in person when there was no one around.

What a vile thing to say to a child!


But now that I think of it, even if it did create a crumb of fear in me, it managed to keep me in check. I never went to sleep hungry ever again. Even if accidentally I did, I would feel my intestines first thing in the morning to ensure that the bird didn’t devour me to pieces.

A blunt example of fear advertising, I know. But it managed to work every time for me.

Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone on this planet who is truly fearless. If we could create something human yet make him bereft of dread. If we nourish someone so well and do not engage him to intimidation ever, I wonder how he/she will turn out to be. An A.I. probably? Also, it is highly probable that it might end up dead within split seconds. Not knowing when to stop, not knowing the tolerance quotient.


Not delving into the scientific trenches, I flag fear as something that tingles the brain stimulus too quick for you to notice. It is like a chain reaction of events that will alter you into a completely different person. It makes rational thinking impossible. You will act in a stimulus, taking rash decisions in a finger snap. But that’s what fear wants from you. That’s how fear works.

In a way, I guess fear is good. Fear advertising sells quickly. I doubt if it holds true for Broadway Security when they are trying to sell their products with those horrible brinks home security ads. But fear advertising certainly works good in other cases. Then again we have that cigarette lungs diagram on the cigarete smoke box that nobody seems to care enough for.

I come to the conclusion fear is inevitable. If we are the puppets of the world, and the unworldly are ruling us, they are becoming successful only by using strings of fear. I surmise, it is working for them too.

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