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Marketing So Good It’s Scary: 12 Experiential Horror Campaigns That Went Viral

Is it better to be loved or feared? While much marketing talk centers on the notion of brand love, perhaps as many of our buying decisions are essentially motivated by fear. If it isn’t the fear of missing out, it’s some other strain of dread that spurs consumers to whip out credit cards en masse. This could explain why horror–the genre that can most fully explore and exploit our fears–has yielded so many advertising gems.

The Crisis Zero website came online recently, apparently counting down until some sort of end of days scenario,and reporting on strange happenings along the way. It even includes footage of these instances as they occur–an ATM surveillance tape that ends in a customer running away, a happy couple on the beach who appear to meet with something horrific. While almost anyone who’s spent enough time on the Internet in the past few years would recognize this site and its videos as viral marketing for a horror movie (in this case, the forthcoming World War Z), there’s just something chilling about the idea of horror content leaking out of a movie and into one’s real life in some form.


Of course, World War Z is far from the first film to use such tactics. Since The Blair Witch Project jump-started the ambient horror marketing trend with its innovative efforts in 1999, many others have figured out new and exciting ways to frighten fans into submission. Have a look through the slide show above for 12 of the most effective horror-based campaigns of all time. (If you dare, that is.)JB