FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt)

What is FUD?

FUD is a disinformation strategy used by marketing and sales professionals that stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. It’s commonly used in the sales, marketing, polling, and public relations fields. FUD is used to influence consumer perception of a competitor’s product by appealing to fear. Professionals using the FUD strategy in campaigns will share negative and false information about a competitor, their service, or their products. They will spread questionable information about competition with the hopes that consumers will find their product more appealing. This strategy is commonly used in scenarios when a company’s product is inferior to competition.

Examples of FUD being used as a professional strategy

A recent example of FUD at play in the corporate world was with Clorox in 2008. The team ran a marketing campaign highlighting a new product known as Green Works. The campaign slogan was, “Finally, Green Works,” which implied that other companies’ green products were ineffective up until this point. It made consumers fear that other products and companies weren’t trustworthy or effective.

History of FUD

The phrase dates back to the early 20th century, however the current use of FUD came about in the 1970s. Gene Amdahl, a former IBM employee who left to form Amdahl Corp, defined FUD as, “the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl Products.” FUD was commonly used in the 1970s to describe disinformation in the computer hardware industry. Since then, the term has been expanded to a broader level.


Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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