You are on page 1of 7


Hollywood is facing more and more challenges when
it comes to theater sales. With the growing use of stream-
ing services, people have more options than ever for con-
suming entertainment. This is especially evident in
younger audiences, as the Millennial generation is one of
the lowest in theater attendance. At the same time, the
media environment has become increasingly cluttered.
This has raised the need for creative and non-traditional
marketing strategies in order to break through that clut-
ter. Guerilla marketing, pseudo-events, and viral market-
ing are a way to do that. These strategies offer a unique
and often more economical way to reach consumers and
build buzz surrounding a film.
Within the horror genre, these strategies are highly
prevalent. While most of the movie industry has been
facing a decline, horror has seen growth over the past few
years. For this reason, this guidebook was created. A
qualitative research analysis of the top 15 highest gross-
ing horror films from 2007-2017 was conducted, in which
five major themes and subsequent sub-themes of
common practices were drawn. From these themes, the
best practices presented in this guidebook were formed.
This book is meant to be a resource for communications
practitioners, in the hope that it would inspire creativity
and aid in the construction of effective, ethical, and en-
gaging film marketing campaigns.


The world is not comprehensible,

but it is embraceable: through the
embracing of one of its beings.
-Martin Buber-

This guidebook was also created to give a guide for ethi-
cal practice in using pseudo-events and viral marketing.
The main ethical framework for consideration in this
guidebook draws from Martin Buber’s dialogic ethical
principle of I-It, I-Thou. Essentially, this principle puts
major focus on seeing other people not as objects or
“tools” to be used (known as “I-It”) but as beings that
hold immense value (known as “I-Thou”). Engaging in an
“I-Thou” mindset then leads to a feeling of responsibility
and care for the other.
In embracing this ethical philosophy, target audi-
ences would be seen no longer as simple data points but
as real people that deserve respect. Communications
practitioners may use this as a guide for creating mar-
keting campaigns that are not misleading, do not per-
petuate stereotypes, and do not exploit people. Cam-
paigns of this sort, especially those that incorporate the
non-traditional strategies to be discussed in this book,
hold the potential to build significant goodwill for an
organization, grow brand loyalty, and engage diverse
groups of people. The best practices in this guidebook
offer suggestions for the use of pseudo-events and viral
marketing that are grounded in the aforementioned eth-
ical philosophy.

Millennials are a significant demographic for marketers to reach. Marketers have become
increasingly interested in this group because of their power and elusiveness. It’s important to
understand them, what they like, and how they think. This guidebook is centered on reaching
this generation. In order to better understand them, here are 5 key points about Millennials.

Born between 1981-1997

There are 75.4 million Millennials in the U.S.
They make up 21% of consumer purchases, and 1
are highly influential on older generations.

Millennials make up 27% of the minority popula-
tion. They are 55.8% white and 30% new minori-
ties (Hispanic, Asian, or two or more races).
Their growth is largely due to immigration.

Film PReferences
Millennials are one of the lowest theater going
3 groups. They’re most likely to watch horror,
urban, and tentpole films, but horror interest
decreases over time.

ONline Interactivity
89% of 18-29 year olds use social media, 46%
4 post original content, 40% want to participate
in co-creation of products, and 80% want
brands to entertain them.

Millennials support brands that stand for
5 more than their “bottom line”. 50% of
Millennials are more willing to make a
purchase if it is going towards a cause.

A major theme in successful

horror film marketing is
immersion. This involves
creating experiences that
allow fans to engage with
the film in real life.
Personal Virtual 20

Reality Experience
Make it easily
accesible on
Create Virtual multiple platforms
REality Videos
There are many mobile options
Virtual reality (or 360º) people are using for media and
videos allow fans to entertainment. Make VR videos
experience the film. available on social media, websites,
This is a unique way or through an app- the easier to
for people to engage access, the more likely they’ll watch!
with the brand.

Make it as realistic Use pivotal scenes

as possible from the film
The video will likely be animated, Give viewers a chance to
but try to make it look as real as “walk through” the film. Those
possible. Keep it easy to follow, memorable scenes from the
and use a lot of detail! Create an movie are even more
eerie atmosphere that builds impacftul when a person can
suspense and anticipation. experience it firsthand!

Where have we seen this?

IT: FLOAT VR Experience Insidious 3: VR App The Conjuring 2: Visions & Experience Enfield
4D or pop-up VR

Immerse people in
the film through
4D VR experiences Offer limited
Take VR a step further by
setting up pop-up 4D Take the experience on a
experiences that fully immerse tour to major cities. Offer
individuals in a haunting film a limited amount of
experience. This is a great way tickets for each event to
to build hype and engagement maintain exclusivity. This
with the brand. grows anticipation and
keeps people interested!

Integrate technology
with tangible elements
Create a holistic experience with many
elements in play. This can be done through
haunted houses, moving vehicles, or other
fun set-ups. Interactivity is key!

Where have we seen this?

IT: FLOAT 4D School Bus Experience Insidious 3: Into the Further 4D Experience

Film Becomes Reality

Play on current trends
Pay attention to trends in technology, media,
Bring something and culture. These can provide insight into
iconic from the creating tactics that hold viral qualities and
more potential for engagement.
film to life
Make the film come to life in a Utilize apps &
way that is hard for people to
ignore. This can involve many
other technology
things, from haunted houses to Many apps and other
installments around cities. Bring popular online technologies
the nightmare into reality! provide unique opportunities
for interactive film
marketing. Find apps and
other outlets to partner with
Don’t perpetuate for events or special features
stereotypes or that your target audience
will be drawn to engage with.
exploit people
This is an ethical consideration
that seeks to value and respect Don’t be overly invasive
others. This requires research into
This is an ethical consideration that
people groups that may be affected
seeks to respect people’s autonomy.
and intentional care to avoid
This would mean ensuring that a
manipulation or dishonesty.
person would always have the ability
to not participate in any event that
makes them too uncomfortable.

Where have we seen this?

IT Balloons in Australia Annabelle: Creation Dolls in New York Insidious 3: Kik With “Quinn”