Trick Or Treat? Marketing Campaign Lessons From Horror Movies

Polina Zelikova, Aug. 14, 2019Creative Marketing
Trick Or Treat? Marketing Campaign Lessons From Horror Movies

Don’t know about you, but I really like watching horror movies time to time, as they prompt a lot of emotions, such as mystery and unexpected surprises. As you may know by now, the most successful marketing campaigns and advertising has also been built around emotional connection with viewers, which makes it very close to the initial concept of (even) horror stories. In this article we reveal some of the marketing campaign lessons from horror movies, which can help you plan and optimize your activities for better results.


Try approaching your marketing in “that wasn’t what I was expecting” kind of way for the viewers. Gradually show more information to hook up the prospects. You can use social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, which offer great suspense-building opportunities. Even if your company business is not as exciting, you can build up using a promotion or a contest by balancing mystery with honesty. If correctly executed, viewers will search for clues and more details on their own, which will strengthen the bond with your brand.

As an example, a guerrilla marketing campaign for King Kong 3D prompted people to take photos and share them all over social media, not knowing at first the message of promoting an upcoming movie.



Instead of showing all the details of the marketing campaign, intrigue your potential customers with the mystery you’ve built, and do not tell them every boring detail right beginning. People want to know what’s in it for them. So, keep it simple and focus on the details people really care about.

An interesting campaign by Colgate placed toothbrush-shaped wooden sticks inside the ice cream bars. People did not know of the inside content right when they opened the ice-cream package, but were reminded of the importance of brushing the teeth (with Colgate).

colgate marketing campaign


Movies are only as good as the characters in them. The best movies use actors to the fullest and force audiences to care about whether they live or die.

Often there is a close connection between you, the viewer, and at least one of the movie characters.

So, don’t be shy about showing off your employees and loyal customers. Ask them if they’d like to be a part of your marketing campaign as a part of the video, social media, or a blog. Having real people involved makes your message much more personal.


Would you be more likely to see a movie or buy a certain product if one of your friends recommended it? Most of us would. Self-promotional content on its own no longer is an option for brands. So instead of pushing your beautiful ads out there, ask customers for reviews and let them do the talking for you. “People place value on other people’s opinions and it’ll only help you stand out.”

See how Fast and Furious has been talking about Corona beer?

corona marketing campaign


So many movies (and marketing campaigns!) have proven that one doesn’t need a big pocket to generate good results. “The first Paranormal Activity had a $15,000 budget and went on to gross more than 193 million at the box office, making it one of the most profitable movies of all time.”

You can do a lot with your phone cameras and free to low lost tools to produce a great campaign. All you need is a group of creative people working for a common goal.

Here’s how Inspired Bicycles' team rider Danny MacAskill scales fences in and around Edinburgh, Scotland. The video reached the masses with a brilliant viral video execution.


Any horror movie is hiding a good surprise or two. It’s worth making people relax after the first unexpected move, when you can release the second big surprise. For example, if you are in a hotel business, send your expected visitor a welcome email before their arrival (1st surprise), and prepare a nice welcome bottle of champagne with chocolate for the arrival (2ndsurprise).

Which of these tips works best for your brand? What’s your favorite horror flick?

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