Serial killers, bloody crime scenes, supernatural villains, and other typical components of a scary movie can be frightening, but the idea of a product placement in horror movies doesn’t have to be.
Many brands immediately reject the idea of partnering with horror films or TV on the false premise that the negative feelings a viewer experiences while being scared will be transferred to the participating brand. But research proves this is simply not the case.
Before you miss out on the massive opportunities that working with a horror project can yield, here are a few reasons not to disregard the genre:
1. Scary increases brand recall, and provides positive associations.
According to research by Lea Dunn at the University of British Colombia’s Sauder School of Business, brands are more likely to be recalled if they are associated with a scene that induces fear or makes the viewer feel alone.
When a moviegoer is frightened, feelings of loneliness are heightened. Despite going to the cinema with a date or as a group outing, once the lights go down, each person is virtually cut off from surrounding human engagement. Thus, as the viewer watches the film, reactions are internalized. They are immersed into the storyline.
The study proved that when respondents were scared, they developed an increased emotional attachment toward surrounding branded products, resulting in a higher recall rate and a more positive association.
Why? The emotional instinct a child feels to cling to a teddy bear when he/she is scared is the same type of instinct all humans share – whether it be to potato chips in-theater, or even just ten seconds, according to the survey findings, of visual brand recognition on-screen.
2. Horror has been on the rise in the past year, and is continuing to grow.
The horror genre has been increasingly successful in both TV and film. From the past few years’ zombie obsession with projects such as The Walking Dead, supernatural thrillers such as American Horror Story, to serial killer-centered shows such as Dexter – audiences are flocking to the cinema and getting hooked on these shows. It is undeniable that the genre has increased in popularity, with heightened gore, blood, and suspense to match.
3. Scary engages males.
The young male – from teen to 35 – is often elusive. They don’t sit in front of the television set watching comedies and dramas as much as they are sitting in front of their monitors playing video games. But they are sitting in theaters watching their favorite horror films – and then re-watching them twenty times over at home after DVD release. And having the opportunity to be front and center in a starring role in that movie? A golden opportunity to influence and drive brand sales.
4. Horror brings in big bucks.
Some of 2013’s most profitable films, across all movie genres, happened to be horror movies: The Purge, The Conjuring, and Insidious: Chapter 2. More impressive than the fact that these films brought in big numbers is what little money they needed to make them in the first place. For example, this year’s The Purge debuted at number one at the box office and has grossed $64.5 million. It
’s production budget? Just $3 million.
5. Low budget horror films are brand friendly due to $$$ interest.
Productions that have low production budgets are notoriously open to creating brand partnerships of any size – as they operate on the fact that even small dollars can be put towards even better special effects. This allows brands who have smaller to medium size budgets the ability to create very powerful and strategized campaigns around the film – at a fraction of what the cost would be with larger box office franchise pictures of other genres.
This is why so many brands make exceptions to their typical marketing practice of making sure content is clean and wholesome. Scary movies reach a very specific audience, and with appearances in horror productions from the smaller Paranormal Activity franchise to the zombie apocalypse thriller (and monster budget eater) World War Z, big name brands are capitalizing on this profitable marketing strategy.
Marketers who previously shuddered at the thought of horror films should embrace the genre – especially with the millennial demographic – to gain an engagement factor that will strongly influence and drive future brand sales.