Viral Vednesday – Scare Tactics

Today’s article doesn’t so much touch upon actual viral videos, but more on the basic concept of what makes a campaign go viral. We’ve talked about how attributes like creativity, humor, brands not taking themselves too seriously and that “wtf” factor help contribute to a campaign going “viral”. But this article will focus on another tactic – the scare tactic.WOTW-NYT-headline

In 1938 Orson Wells scared and shocked the public by doing a radio production of H.G. Wells’ (no relation!) War of the Worlds. Many families ran from their homes to escape the gas raids from incoming Martians! Today, that same radio broadcast would probably not be met with the same fear and panic. With all the clever marketing campaigns people see every day, not to mention all the hidden camera shows setting people up, people are much less gullible then they were before.

But the people behind the campaign for the new thriller, Purge are hoping their scare tactic is original enough to work! To fully understand the campaign, you need to understand what the movie is about. Set in the not-so-distant future, America is a place of peace. Crime is lower than it has ever been and everyone is a happy little worker bee. But all of this is possible because, for one night, the government suspends all emergency services and renders absolutely nothing illegal. This allows the nation to purge all its hostility and anger (makes sense to us!).

So with that premise, the campaign has put up billboards everywhere stating that emergency services will be suspended for 12 hours on June 7th. purgeWhile the we haven’t seen any families boarding up their homes for the half-day apocalypse, we have definitely heard many people either talking about the cleverness of the ads or asking people what the billboards are about. Either way, people are talking and that means the ad did its job!

What do you think of the campaign strategy for The Purge? Clever scare tactic or cheap ploy?