I recently ran across a Google ad for a car wax product that prompted me to click-in and investigate. They advertised “Never Wax Your Car Again!”. When I hit the product home page I was immediately bombarded with FUD marketing. I backed out as fast as I could to get back to Google. Just below the ad I clicked was another ad advertising “5-Year Shine!”. Again, more FUD.

What is FUD marketing, you ask? Fear! Uncertainty! Doubt!

A few years ago I wrote an article I called Modern Paint Care in response to a bunch of hype going around about “special paint” and the need to use “special products” to care for it. Hog wash!

In the early 1990’s I worked for a FUD marketing company in the computer storage industry. As the product marketing manager for large, very expensive storage systems, I watched in amazement as the sales team developed their game plan to get sales. “Sell them on the fear of loss [of data]”, they’d say. After a year and a half, I tired of the scheming and moved on to a smaller company that told it the way it is. What a relief!

When you’re selling a $500,000 computer storage system, FUD marketing is almost understandable, but why so much FUD in car care? After all, it’s only car wax, right?

The only reason I can come up with is that it’s a one time sale, so you throw down the FUD card to get it. What’s the FUD? How about these:

  • Your car has special paint and requires a special polish/wax because…
  • Regular waxes can’t protect your car from…
  • Other waxes contain these harmful ingredients…
  • Do you really want to spend one weekend a month waxing your car with an inferior product?

There are so many more fun lines, but you get the idea.

When I worked on the development of the Ultima brand, I was amazed at how far new polymer technology has come. To think that you can actually apply a clear polymer sealant (Ultima, Optimum, Zaino) without buffing off (apply and let dry) and have it last six to nine months in real world conditions, is pretty amazing. Yet, not one of these products makes a claim of durability beyond what is reasonably safe for a vehicle’s paint finish.

Again, this is only car wax, so in the big picture of things, who cares, right? Wrong! Every car owner should care.

Car prices are not going down (well, maybe right now they are!), and the last time I checked a new paint job still costs a few grand or more. That means every car owner who does not properly care for their car’s exterior finish stands to loose a couple grand in resale value. Make sense?

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of every car owner to properly care for their car, but how can they if they are sold on the idea of a 2-year, 5-year or lifetime paint treatment? The answer is they can’t. They can’t because they put their trust and faith in a car wax product designed to be sold to a customer ONCE.

Some day I will be proved wrong. That will be the day car makers invent a truly maintenance free car that discharges negative ions to release bonded contamination and has nano shutters in a micro layer that move with the sun to block UV rays. That day is not today. No, today we still need to clay, polish and wax our cars at least twice a year. To suggest anything less for a car in the real world is ridiculous.