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The last week or so has proven to be a good one for horror and marketing. Last week, the new generation of horror hounds got to see the “always talked about but never experienced first-hand” interruptions from Freddy Krueger on MTV as promotions for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (watch them here). Then today a friend sent me the new ads for Burger King’s late-night drive-thru service:
I’m sensing a theme here, and I sort of love it. I love that people are finally embracing that horror fans are not only a huge audience, but also a dedicated audience worthy of their marketing energy and dollars.
While I’m certainly not saying that throwing Jason or Chucky on a BK ad will get every horror fan to buy a Whopper or some Chicken Fries (because I won’t), I can’t help but love the company for taking a risk on this ad campaign. It’s a wonderful association, for sure: we watch horror movies at night because it “creates a mood,” the infamous psycho killers stalk their prey at night, and BK now has a late-night service across the country. It’s attention grabbing, for sure. So, the fact that our favorite killers are put in a comical context makes these ads more enjoyable. My personal favorite is the one featuring Ghostface.
For those of you who are rolling your eyes as I have my geek out (I know who you are!), hear me out. This isn’t the first time that marketing companies have used the horror community to successfully sell something. After all, I just mentioned that back in the day the random promos from Freddy were on MTV for whatever sequel-of-the-moment was coming out. See for yourself:
However, this may seem a bit dated to some of you, so I’ll use a couple of newer examples.
In the summer of 2007, a ton of people (unfortunately) saw Transformers and of course the trailers that aired before it. After the film, a large portion of that Transformers audience was talking about the mysterious ad that screened before the film. It was obviously for a movie trailer, but for what? What the hell was destroying New York City? Was it Godzilla? Was it an alien? No one had any idea as to what the soon-to-be movie monster was. More important, no one knew what the movie was called. To say the least, the interest of those moviegoers was piqued. As months went by, the viral campaign slowly unraveled, telling us the movie was called Cloverfield and that in order to figure out anything more than that, we’d have to actually see the movie. And we did. Cloverfield earned over $80 million at the domestic box office during its theatrical run.
An even better example of successful marketing in horror comes with Paranormal Activity. The people behind promoting this film did a combination of old-school “HOLY SHIT THIS IS REAL!” a la The Blair Witch Project and the “Wait, is it real?” we saw with Cloverfield. Definitely a good first step, if I do say. But then we really got to see the horror community in action when it was announced that people would vote on whether or not the movie saw theaters. Not only did we ask for it, WE BEGGED FOR IT! You know where things go from here: Paranormal Activity, which took roughly $15,000 to make, earned over $108 million in its theatrical run.
So, for all you promotional people out there, if you want to make sure people see your product, do yourself the favor and get chummy with the horror community ASAP. History is said to repeat itself, and by the track record these two have together, you’ll have one hell of an awesome history one day.
What are some of your favorite horror ads? Do you think fake websites are the new TV spot?