How FOMO is bad for investors

Who: British Columbia Securities Commission, with Wasserman for strategy, creative and media, Jarmaine Productions for video production, PostPro Media on post-production, and GGRP for sound.

What: “Hi, my name is FOMO,” new advertising warning investors that if an opportunity seems too good to pass up, it could be fraud. In other words the Fear Of Missing Out is dangerous.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running as online video, social posts, digital banners, radio, TV, out-of-home, and search.

Why: This is Fraud Prevention Month, and provincial regulators have been running various campaigns. Others have opted for a more traditional approach.

The BCSC is particularly interested in reaching people who think social media is a good place to find investment opportunities. The goal was to warn investors about being scammed by attractive investment opportunities promising easy returns.

“The BCSC knows that fraudsters love to prey on people’s FOMO to lure them into an investment scam,” said Wasserman president Stefan Hawes. “When you think everyone around you is getting rich, that creates an enormous amount of emotional pressure to get in before it’s too late.”

How much FOMO: BCSC conducted a survey to see how age and FOMO influenced investment decisions. The survey found that half of British Columbians 18-34 say they experience FOMO, compared to just 19% of those 55 or older. More than one-third (38%) of the FOMO group under 35 say social media is a good source for investment opportunities, and 41% of that same group say they worry that they could miss a good investment opportunity if they don’t act immediately.

“Results of this new research are particularly concerning because we’ve seen a surge in potentially fraudulent schemes peddled on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said  Doug Muir, the BCSC’s director of enforcement.

How: To portray the dangers of investment deals that seem too good to be true, Wasserman personified the feeling of FOMO: An enthusiastic guy who gets excited about a great opportunity he saw online, but manages to catch himself just in time. “Research first, then invest,” reads the closing super.

“Making FOMO a character helps people recognize the emotion,” said Bronwyn Mackay, creative director at Wasserman. “You have a bit of a laugh, then realize how easy it is to get carried away and the risk of doing so. That’s when behaviour starts to change.”

And we quote: “We also know that fraudsters put pressure on people to act quickly. It’s important to gather as much reliable information about an investment as you can before putting your money into it, and to not rush into it.” —Doug Muir, BCSC’s director of enforcement.



David Brown