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Viral Marketing In Horror

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Examples of Marketing in Horror Going to Scary Lengths

Now more than ever, a successful project of any medium hinges on its ability to market itself in an engaging way to the right audiences. In this realm, horror is afforded some liberties. Many films, books, or games are burdened by needing to be sensible, or serious, in the manner of reception or presentation. However, horror often is rewarded for being over the top and eccentric, which has led to a lot of very exciting and successful marketing over the years. Here are some of the spookiest marketing campaigns to grace the genre. 

The Blair Witch Project (1999)- Online Marketing Campaign 

Blair Witch is famous for many valid reasons. Beside solidifying found footage as not only an acceptable, but a successful genre, the film is regarded as the first film to be marketed using the internet as its primary means. The film’s website launched before the film, creating the main myth behind the piece: that it was real. The website (along with a few film festivals) were flooded with posters and text saying that the actors of the film were all missing, or even presumed dead. The fictional lore behind the story was also escalated through other fake documentaries, strengthening the fabrication that the events of the “tapes” were real, and the fate of the three youths lie on them. Overall, the marketing of the piece led, at least partially, to its massive success, and set a precedent for the future of the genre and industry. 

Resident Evil 7 (2017)- 4D Candle Marketing

The setting of Resident Evil is perhaps the most unique and harrowing of the franchise, with macabre and… unsanitary surprises around every corner. While boasting an immersive story and atmosphere, Numskull thought that it could be taken a step further. The “4d candle” was designed to be played with the VR version of the game, and “is specifically tailored to the game and will make you feel like you’re actually standing in the abandoned plantation house.” It is said to smell like “old timber, leather, and blood.” VR or not, this is a fun and refreshing way to promote a great game through further marketing. 

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American Horror Story (2011)- Bakery Marketing

American Horror Story has become known for its mysterious and self-aware content/ marketing campaigns. Recently, in New York City and Los Angeles the popular television series has set up pop-up bakeries, offering horror-themed cookies, featuring the show and the characters. Currently, we are aware of the new theme for the show’s next season, being “Double Feature.” However, at the time of the first pop up it was not known. The pop-up is to promote the new season, and the sibling series, American Horror Stories. 

Countdown (2019)- App Marketing

Countdown is a movie of the modern era, functioning off the premise that there is an app that can tell you when you die. Regardless of the quality of the film, which is… questionable, it was a smart move by the relations department to create an actual app that generates a random countdown for your “time of death.” While a small and simple feature, it is a fun way to add paranoia and false danger to a silly movie through further marketing.

Various– Hunt A Killer Marketing

“Hunt A Killer” is a subscription-based service that allows you to solve a horror-themed mystery, over the course of six months. Most of the campaigns, if you will, are original to the company. However, there are some franchised materials, making for great promotions. Interacting with a piece of media greatly increases engagement and connection in marketing. 

Check out the trailer for “AHS: Double Feature!”

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