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The Power of Negative Hooks in Marketing 


I want you to go back to the last time when you were scrolling through your Instagram and there!  yes, right there! You found a post that states “You have been doing exercise wrong your whole life” and bang, your conscious tells you that ‘How can I be wrong, I haven’t done exercise in a wrong manner my whole life.’ Now you want to read it to know more, that what am I doing wrong.  


Do you know what you did, while stopping to read that post? You fell for a trap of marketing called negative marketing. So, come and let us explore that what this side of marketing is and how did you fall for that.  

You may also like why must a marketing professional do an MBA 

What are negative hooks? 

With the fast-paced life that we all are living lately, our attention span has started to reduce at a significant level. The modern marketers are also known of this fact and hence are making all the possible efforts to grab that minutest of your attention. To do this they make use of negative statements.  

The negative hooks are one-line headings or catchy negative captions that hold our attention. Though the concept is not new to the world of marketing the manner in which they are being used is definitely a newer one.  

Some of these catchy phrases are like: 

  • “You have been eating rice wrong your whole life”. 
  • “Don’t make this mistake while purchasing bags”.  
  • “I regret buying my new smartphone”. 
  • “The dark sides of using makeup no one talks about”. 

 Why do Negative Hooks work?  

Whenever we enter into an argument with someone, all our energies are directed towards proving ourselves correct. So, if an Instagram post tries to tell you that you are wrong, again our brain starts collecting the information that, no! How can I be wrong? It feels like, let’s know more and try to fix what the issue is. So basically, negative hooks play with the fear and insecurities people have developed. 


Some of the instances:  

The famous Burger King, in the year 2020 posted a picture of their Whoopy Burger turning moldy. Initially, this picture caught the attention of the customers and made them wonder why a brand would portray a negative image of their product.  


But later when you read the entire thing, then you come to know that this campaign is aimed to showcase to the target audience that Burger King only makes use of fresh ingredients, and no preservatives are added to their products.  

These kinds of pictures are surely enough to turn heads and grasp the minutest span of the attention of the target audience.  

However, not always hooks are used for promoting the products of a brand only, instead take a step forward and draw attention towards hard-hitting serious topics that too in a shocking way. Sanctuary Asia Magazine used a picture of a beheaded leopard to raise awareness against the effects of deforestation. The phrase used under this picture states, “When the wood goes, wildlife goes”.  

A leopard lying on a log in the woods

Description automatically generated


People focus more on the things that seem unusual to them and this is where negative hooks work wonders. 

Mistakes to avoid:  

When making use of negative hooks, it becomes very easy for these catchy phrases or shocking pictures to backfire, and thereby it becomes important to make use of this strategy only after foreseeing all the possible consequences that this marketing strategy could have. 

  • Stay on brand: Negative hooks are not for everyone. If your brand has always portrayed its positive image through good deeds, then negative hooks are a big NO for your brand. 
  • State the problem & offer a solution:  The negative hooks will only work in your favor when after using the hook you have connected it with something positive. For instance, “You have been applying lotion wrong, your whole life” and then you have a detailed article “Here’s how you should be applying the lotion”. 
  • It may backfire: Probably the core idea is to grasp the attention or to spread awareness through your campaign while using negative hooks. But it may backfire.  


Bombae shaving company tried to address the online bullying of Prachi Nigam, UP Board’s topper, through their ad. The ad captioned “They are trolling your HAIR today; they’ll applaud your A.I.R tomorrow”. The ad witnessed a huge backlash for its closing statement, “We hope you never get bullied into using our razor”. 


Negative hooks are surely a powerful tool to get the attention of your target audience but before making use of them, one must ensure that are they in sync with the messages, image, and value of their company. 

The pros and cons of this side of marketing must be adjudged to gain the most out of it. Negative hooks or not, the core of marketing is always to persuade the customers towards understanding the concept and content of the campaign, without compromising on the brand’s values.  

Disclaimer: This blog contains only the author’s perspective and is a completely unsponsored post. The sole purpose of this blog is to impart knowledge and not to publicize any mentioned brands.  


Information related to companies and external organizations is based on secondary research or the opinion of individual authors and must not be interpreted as the official information shared by the concerned organization.

Additionally, information like fee, eligibility, scholarships, finance options etc. on offerings and programs listed on Online Manipal may change as per the discretion of respective universities so please refer to the respective program page for latest information. Any information provided in blogs is not binding and cannot be taken as final.

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