Guilt is big in marketing. Just as cable TV ads will suggest you’re being selfish for not buying more insurance to cover “final expenses,” big soap companies will accuse you of not loving your family if you don’t buy the right product to protect them from the “germs” and illness in the world.
We’re not in the insurance business, but we can tell you there is no one skincare product to make your family bullet-proof. There are products advertised as doing just that, but the truth is, they don’t do what they say. The companies touting these products are the last ones you should listen to.
This Is How Cynical Marketing Can Be
Marketers, including those at Botanie, want to touch you where you live. The point of marketing is not to appeal to reason, but to emotions. Love of family – and the corresponding fear of never being able to do enough to keep them safe – are among the most powerful. And so, if a company is making a product that will kill all germs that could ever make your children sick, how could you not buy it? Knowing this product is out there, could you say you really love your family if you don’t? Just to be safe?
Here’s the Part About Germs
Just as we tell customers that organic soap isn’t medicine, we tell them not to be fooled by the claims of antibacterial soap makers. Beyond the fact that antibacterial soap doesn’t do what it says, the marketing chooses, rather dishonorably, to exploit two specific things: 1) consumers’ general lack of science knowledge, and 2) consumers’s fear they’re missing something.
Think of how many times you’ve heard phrases like this in skincare advertising: Kills Germs. Keeps Your Family Safe From Germs. The pivotal word in these claims is germs – it’s what’s being killed, and what you’re being saved from. But germs are what, exactly?
The truth is, germs aren’t one thing, and the term isn’t used officially anymore. It’s an inclusive phrase for microorganisms that can cause disease, also known as pathogens. Included in this category are the terms actually used in contemporary science – bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa. It doesn’t take much knowledge of any of these to realize nothing as innocuous as soap is capable of complete protection.
No Magic Cure for Germs
Even if Dial or Bristol-Meyers were able to find the magic ingredients to kill all bacteria and viruses, to nullify fungi and protozoa – magic ingredients that don’t exist – the very nature of washing would nullify them.
Unlike creams or lotions, known as leave-on products, soap is rinsed off. Whatever active ingredients it contains don’t stay on the skin very long and the minuscule amount that’s left behind isn’t enough to have an effect. Corporate marketing isn’t concerned, though, that their products do what they say, only that you believe they do.