It’s all too easy to miss your mark with the horror genre. This year’s batch of Halloween ads were a mixed bag due to poor taste and some arbitrary product placement. It can be tough to drop jaws when you’re touting beer or home security.
On the other hand, horror movies and TV shows have never had trouble attracting viewers, and made a particular splash in the market this summer. To that end, Fox Media has done well to partner with brands through the Walking Dead franchise. A graphic novel gone live-action, the series has long been part of the zombie culture cannon, but recent forays into content marketing have proven fruitful and frightful.
This undead billboard featuring ‘walkers’ feasting on blood and entrails made a real impression on the streets of east London. With 50kg of offal and fake blood used on-site, setting the scene was no easy task. But like any quality haunted house, allowing onlookers the suspension of disbelief made all the difference. The billboard clued passersby in to Thorpe Park’s annual event, ‘Fright Nights’, which also incorporated two new Walking Dead-themed mazes.
The ad below, created in collaboration with Coca-Cola, took a different approach.
Creepy, clever and brand-relevant. The piece worked well, in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way, with the beverage giant’s goal to strike thirst into the hearts of consumers.
For those watching the show, you might have noticed the chosen mode of transport for Rick Grimes and Co. Hyundai autos are regularly used by the shows heroes and heroines to escape hordes of zombies. Following up on the partnership early in the series, Hyundai went so far as souping up Tucsons and Sonatas in their own chop shop for a zombie apocalypse.
Complete with gated windows, spiked grills and machine guns, the ‘survival machines’ made a strong statement about what meaningful product partnerships mean in the age of catered content.
There’s a sentiment that runs through most viewers heads when they’re aware of product placements or partnerships, “well what does ‘product x’ have to do with ‘media y’ anyway?” It’s a fair assessment. Especially when dealing with a genre as tried-and-true as horror, a haphazardly-positioned product is going to stick out like a sore thumb regardless.
It’s no longer enough to slip merchandise lazily into the latest blockbuster TV series. You need to make it relevant to the content itself, make it a part of the series arc. This requires a winning combination of quality creatives, production capabilities, and, in this case, a penchant for eliciting screams.
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