How To #19: 6 Ways Scary Content Increases Sales


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An Eerily Good Opportunity For Brand Sales

Serial killers, bloody crime scenes, supernatural villains, and other typical components of a scary movie can be frightening, but the idea of having your brand appear as product placement in horror movies doesn’t have to be. And in fact, brands see measurable sales success from horror content partnerships.

While many brands immediately reject the idea of such partnerships, some of the largest brands have realized the benefits, and create comprehensive campaigns to support their product placement exposures. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses the false premise that the negative feelings a viewer experiences while being scared will be transferred to the participating brand - as research proves this is simply not the case.  And that high engagement actually occurs.

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Why Is Horror So Engaging?

Before you miss out on the massive opportunities that working with a horror project can yield, consider six of our reasons your brand should not choose to disregard the genre.

1. It Creates Higher Brand Recall

Scary content 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.

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2. It's a Popular Genre

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. It Reaches A Difficult Demographic

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.

Horror_Blog_Image: Brands are more remembered when a person is scared

4. Massive Audience Reach

Some of the most profitable films of recent years, across all movie genres, happened to be horror movies - both at box office and streaming views at home, including: The Purge, Oculus, The Conjuring, and Insidious: Chapter 2 (and 3), Poltergeist, The Gift, Ouija, Paranormal Activity, and Unfriended. 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, The Purge debuted at number one at the box office and has grossed $89 million at the box office. Its production budget? Just $3 million.

5. Productions Want To Work With Your Brand

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.

Check out our blog where we talk about why a production would want to work with your brand in the post 3 Reasons Why Productions Use Product Placement.

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6. Reach Trendsetters

Adventure and thrill seekers' favored content includes horror films.  Scary edge of your seat thrillers cause adrenaline to course through the body, similar to the thrill of sky diving, race car driving, bungie jumping or even rock climbing.  Just like when pursuing these activities, the horror movie goer's palms sweat, muscles tense, skin temperature drops several degrees, and their blood pressure spikes.  And of most importance to brands?  These adventure seekers are possibly one of the largest groups of early adopters for new trends - which includes brands. 

It's Time... To Get Over Your Fears 

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.

Let go of your fear of overspending for a product placement - it doesn't have to be costly! In fact, we talk about product placement costs in our blog How Much Does Product Placement Cost.

Want to listen or share this information from our podcast? Check it out!

Learning To Embrace Scary (And The Not So Scary Too...)

Want some more information on the benefits of product placement? Check out some other blogs we've written on the topic!

Are you interested in integrating product placement into your entertainment marketing mix, but simply don’t know where to start? There is so much more to product placement than you may think,  and it is important to be educated about the key tactics to best fit your brand. Download our Product Placement 101 Infographic today to start learning more! 

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