Marketing Your Worst Fears

September 11, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

For all of the people out there who hate clowns, we’d be willing to bet it’s because of a certain clown created by a certain author.

And by certain we mean Pennywise in Stephen King’s It.

This past week the movie opened to $123.1 million, 5 million over initial estimates.

While we’re sure the work is quality (you won’t catch us watching this – we’d like to sleep, thanks) and there are some die-hard horror fans of this twisted story, it’s the film’s unique experiential marketing that we’re eyeing.

Think red balloons, haunted houses, murals and eerie mannequin sightings.  

This is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why: the marketing behind the film made it all feel real.

And that makes it terrifying in the best way possible.

Let’s start with the first sightings.

1. In Australia, Mr. Glasses and its sister marketing company Showtime Marketing got artists to paint giant street murals of their interpretations of Pennywise.

The clown that watches you no matter where you go, waiting to devour you and your fears? Yeah, now he’s really watching you from buildings.

2. Then we have that dreaded balloon and sewer grate.

These are pretty much two of the most iconic pieces of imagery from the movie. Together, they become very luring. Just what Pennywise wants.

3. Here in our very own Toronto, child-sized mannequins appeared wearing poor Georgie’s outfit, while standing over a grate and holding a red balloon.


Stay away from the sewers. #WheresGeorgieTO #ITMovie

A post shared by Warner Bros. Pictures Canada (@wbpicturescan) on

Now we’re all being literally haunted by Georgie (along with the hashtag #WheresGeorgieTO).

4. LA opened “The It Experience: Neibolt House Hollywood.”

That really shabby house in Derry that you just want to tell the characters not to enter (even though you know they will anyway)? Yeah, now you can go visit it and see if you’ll last the full 20-minutes inside.

If you don’t want to go, don’t worry – BuzzFeed’s got you covered.


5. Most CREEPY of all, in the novel IT awakens every 27 years. IT premiered on TV in 1990. And now 27 years later it’s hitting theatres.

Yeah, we’re out.

Put this all together and you’ve got one amazing global marketing campaign. Why? Well essentially, fear generates interest especially when it’s tangible. People can’t help but be interested in scary stuff.

That’s why you watch that ghost hunting show alone at night even though you know it’s a bad idea.

Variety put it really well after interviewing Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at comScore: “the marketing campaign brilliantly evoked a sense of teenage wonderment, fear, and ultimately bravery in the face of the true evil…”

In essence, all the balloons, creepy mannequins and sewer grate sightings piqued interest on a huge scale.

Clearly it delivered – It had the third largest opening of 2017, next only to Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. 

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?

Did we win over your minutes? Get more great posts like this in The Tite Report monthly newsletter.

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