Boo or Bust: Scaring Customers Into Buying Your Product

Boo-or-Bust-Scaring-Customers-Into-Buying-Your-Product

Demonic dolls, ghastly ghouls, and bloodthirsty boogeymen. Your nightmares could hold the key to your advertising success.

A study from University of Cambridge examined the effects of shocking advertisements on viewers and found that disturbing content significantly increases attention, boosts memory, and positively influences behavior. Yes, that’s right. For the first time ever mummified corpses are doing something good for the world.

In other words, scaring equals caring. But there’s a fine line between compellingly creepy and disturbingly random. Advertisers beware, even more horrifying than any number of demons is a confused response from a viewer who can’t make the connection between the commercial and the product.

Other than traumatizing a few children, the following ads didn’t do too much for their brands:

He?…She?…It? Call Little Baby’s Ice Cream mascot whatever you want. But one thing you can’t dispute is that this cannibalistic ice cream creature is hella creepy.

And since when did this deranged clown decide to drop his day job of scaring kids (and our own Marc Silverstein who hates clowns) to sell cereal?

EEDAR’s Jesse Divinich read our minds when he claimed this PS3 ad is truly a “WTF moment in marketing history”.

It’s clear that scaring customers into buying your product isn’t easy. How can you send chills up viewers’ spines without driving them to run for their lives, and away from your product? The key is to secure your message and establish your brand in a clever and relevant way. Make the ad a story that will stick, leaving your audience itching to see more.

First Bank’s ad did it best with the tagline “Free Isn’t Always a Good Thing” that featured a possessed doll given away for free at a yard sale:

Not everyone was meant to be a horror movie director, but by creating an intriguing story with a relevant tagline and a terrifying twist you will be well on your way to mastering the art of terror.



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