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Creative Campaigns: 5 Things You Can Learn From Horror Movies

Creative Agency Malaysia, Creative Campaigns, Digital Marketing

BOO! Well, that’s not going to scare you but we thought this would be a great entrance into a scary topic (maybe not so much). You probably didn’t realise this, but horror movies are actually great teaching tools for creative campaigns. Much like any movie, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes and different elements working in tandem to create the majestic motion picture in front of you.

Horror movies, in particular, have actually been a great source of inspiration for us as a creative agency in Malaysia. The fear of unemployment drives us. Just kidding, but the fast-paced action of most horror movies do tie in well with the pace of those working in the creative industry. (Shoutout to my brothers and sisters.)

Beyond the pace, horror movies do draw some parallels with large-scale creative campaigns and here are some pointers you can actually pick up from horror movies in your next campaign:

The Build-Up

Both brands and movies need a story, and the story is what guides the entire flow. The story guides each scene of a horror flick while a brand story guides your external communications and designs, and in this case, your campaign. Creating a brand story is what most creative agencies are capable of.

What every good story needs is a good build-up. It usually takes about one-third of the movie, but the introduction is a necessary component to introduce the context for the film. 

Taking reference from that, your creative campaign should also do the same in ‘introducing the context’. Whether it’s through some teaser posts or a trailer, begin your campaign by providing information and knowledge before the hero/villain your brand or product fully launches. 

So, when your campaign goes live, your target audience is not blindsided or unaware of what’s going on in the first place. 

The Atmosphere

It’s all about the mood.

If the build-up provides the context, then the atmosphere is what sets the stage proper. Horror movies often have darker settings and grim atmosphere to create the feeling of fear in the audiences’ mind. 

Creative campaigns should employ a similar strategy by keeping in mind the atmosphere your brand intends to create. Through the use of colours in your post or the tone of voice in the copy/captions, brands can likewise set the mood for the campaign. Even most digital marketing agencies can achieve that. 

Ideally, these should be accomplished within the collaterals for your teaser/trailer phase. Always good to set the stage correctly right from the get-go.

The Multi-Sensory Experience

While the sense of sight is the main sense engaged in both horror movies and creative campaigns, the other human senses are important for brand experience as well.

Have you ever tried watching a horror movie on mute? The fear factor drops by at least tenfold. In fact, it might even turn into a comedy for some. 

Especially if your creative campaign is going to involve videos, the choice of music and soundtrack is particularly important in invoking the right kind of emotions. You can’t use a kiddish tune for a classy brand can you?

Don’t restrict yourself to digital advertising. For brands looking to take it a step further, feel free to explore engaging senses beyond the sight and hearing such as this creative campaign by Heathrow Airport:

(Taken from Thrillist)

The ‘Surprise’ Factor

The scariest part in a horror flick (to us at least) is the jump scares, where the monster/villain/alien/mythical creature/etc. comes out of nowhere and scares the living daylights out of you. 

We’re not asking you to shock the hell out of your target audience, but it would be good to include something unexpected and amazing within your creative campaign to be used as the ‘big reveal’.

Who doesn’t love surprises? Birthday surprises, anniversary surprises, Valentine surprises, surprising proposals… you get the drift. Creative campaigns with the surprise element are often a big hit amongst consumers. 

Be it through visuals, text or interactive elements, giving your target audience a surprise by going the extra mile would definitely give your brand the edge over your competitors.

The Cliffhanger

Do you know what good horror movies usually have? A sequel, or even a trilogy and more. A good horror movie often sets-up the sequels through the use of…… To be continued.

Nah, just pulling your leg. We’re of course talking about Cliffhangers. (Okay, we sort of spoiled the ending here but you get the point.)

In the same manner, your creative campaign should leave your target audience wanting for more through the use of some cliffhangers. Achieving long-term success should be the goal of every branding campaign, which can be brought out with a ‘more to come’ kind of vibe.

Just like trilogies of horror films, your creative campaign requires planning for the long-term to achieve that effect by knowing what to pre-empt your target audience to next. 

A Shocking Revelation

Not so much shocking as unexpected, but engaging a creative agency that knows their stuff can really help ease up the load of developing and executing a creative campaign. Our somewhat brazen advice? Come to us!

We’re a digital marketing and website design agency turned full-service creative agency in Malaysia that can deliver what your brand needs to achieve the success in this troubled times. Drop us a message if you want to be surprised (;

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