5 Warnings Marketers Can Heed From Horror Movies


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Every year in the weeks leading up to Halloween I try to work a steady amount of horror movies into my entertainment diet. This week I have been thinking about some of my favorite slasher flicks and I realized that horror movies draw interesting parallels to strategic approaches in the marketing arena.

Disclaimer: The following post contains many links to classic scenes from horror movies.

PR Stunts Can Generate Great Buzz but Can Also Go Horribly, Horribly Wrong (Carrie, 1976) ‘ Sure a fun little stunt may seem like a good idea at the time but the next thing you know you’re locked in a high school gymnasium being burned alive by a telekinetic social outcast. Or you might even be wishing that as the best possible outcome (right Richard Heene?). Take for example Snapple’s attempt to erect the world’s largest popsicle (17.5 tons, mind you)’?¬¶on an 80 degree day in Manhattan. You can guess how that one ended up. Before jumping in with both feet, make sure you are working with a partner that has experience (and insurance) to make sure every single detail is well thought-out and accounted for.

Viral Videos: Proceed with Caution (The Ring, 2002) ‘ Viral videos can be effective if they catch on (and by ‘effective’?, I don’t mean ‘a follow-up phone call, then killing the viewer seven days later). However there is an inherent amount of risk to be had when rolling the dice with a viral video play. There is no way to guarantee it will catch on. For every Cadbury Gorilla video that has blown up, there’s a dozen video that haven’t. Side note: thank God YouTube wasn’t around during either of The Ring movies, that clip would have totally blown the doors off of this video.

‘You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat’? (Jaws, 1975) ‘ We field a good number of requests from clients interested in our ‘Brand ChAMPion’? campus ambassador programs. One thing we’ve found through execution is that in order to be successful, we must commit the appropriate resources to our campus ambassadors. We like to surround our reps with as many resources as possible including but not limited to: campus PR, campus media, social media and a local marketing budget. The more we can commit to them, the higher chance for success. Without this kind of support, it’s easy for a campus ambassador program to fall flat. Think of trying to catch Jaws from a canoe. That’s what it’s like trying to force a campus ambassador program with a tight budget. Sometimes, you just need a bigger boat.

Find Creative Ways to Engage with Your Audience (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Various: 1984 ‘ 2010) ‘ One of my favorite things about Freddy Krueger is that he didn’t just kill people like a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, but rather he created a unique nightmare experience. Whether he’s transporting sleepy teens into video games or comic books or turning them into cockroaches, Freddy has a always had a knack for creating an over-the-top experience for his victims. Here at AMP, we find that deep, experiential consumer engagements can have a lasting effect on your victims’?¬¶er, uh, consumers. Consumers.

User Generated Content Can Be a Risky Proposition (The Blair Witch Project, 1999) ‘ Some brands have stars in their eyes when they think of the concept of UGC ‘ a consumer, spending all of this time engaging with their brand sounds incredible. Brands can then use that content which saves money that would otherwise be paid out to a Creative department to develop. Sounds too good to be true, right? Often times, it is. Because content development is so accessible, content quality has become inflated as a result. Some may think an average consumer is capable of filming and editing a brief movie, but what really ends up happening? Three kids get lost in the woods and all hell breaks loose. Uncomfortably close nasal close-ups ensue.

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