Using “Gross” to Fascinate

Posted in Observations

Fascinate book cover

I just finished reading Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. It’s a *ahem* fascinating exploration of the subtle and not-so-subtle psychological influences—lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust—that successful marketers use to capture your attention and even manipulate your behavior. If you are at all interested in how to pique your audience’s interest, this is a must-read. There’s even a workshop-in-a-chapter section for the DIYers in the crowd.

As a personal experiment, I set out to see what examples I could find in the retail world. Before I could even get to the Jägermeister shelf at the liquor store (you really need to read the book), I came across this little gem at the neighborhood grocery store:

bottles on a shelf

It’s a hair gel from the international aisle called Moco de Gorila (translation: Gorilla Snot). And, yes, on the snot bead-shaped bottle is a picture of a gorilla with a runny nose.  It’s available in three styles so you can look like a punk, rocker, or a gallant (aka playah), although I suspect there’s not much difference in the styles other than product labeling.

Gross, right?  I can hardly imagine a better example of the vice trigger.  What member of the cool kids club wouldn’t want to use it just to spite their parents?

Nothing new at work here. Other marketing campaigns have successfully used a gross extreme to fascinate… Garbage Pail Kids, South Park, and the tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek marketing scheme I helped develop for Dirty Sanchez Tacos.

The vice trigger doesn’t work for everyone; the gross element works for fewer still. But when it works, it fascinates! What triggers are you using to fascinate your audience?