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Harry Gardiner

Shocking Digital Campaigns From Across The Web

28th Oct 2014 Content Marketing 3 minutes to read

Zombie PumpkinWith All Hallows Eve just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at the campaigns that send shivers down our spines. I’ve scoured the web to find the creepiest, most shocking Digital Marketing campaigns, and presented them below. Read on if you dare!

First off, let’s take a look a selection of well executed, shockingly good campaigns.

The Good

Booking.com: Haunted


This one was a graveyard smash, and a big favourite of mine last year. Holiday organisation site Booking.com created some super spooky content highlighting their top haunted hotels. However, instead of simply publishing a blog post and being done with it, they built a beautifully realised HTML 5 site, that took users on an incredibly creepy tour of some of the world’s most haunted hotels, utilising awesome movie-esque posters and clear CTAs throughout.

Unfortunately, the site (www.booking.com/haunted) appears to be down at the time of writing, redirecting you to search results instead, but here’s hoping they bring it back for more ghoulishly good fun.

Save The Children: Most Shocking Second a Day

Some campaigns don’t have to be spooky to scare the living daylights out of people.

One such example is Save The Children’s Most Shocking Second a Day video. Taking advantage of the popular ‘one second a day’ format (which involves people capturing a single moment of each day on video) Save The Children created a hard-hitting video which chronicled the life of a young girl in London.

People watched the girl’s world change around her, morphing from a picturesque scene to a life of living in fear and terror, as the city falls under siege around her. The harrowing clip only lasts for a minute and a half, but it left a lasting impression on many of its viewers. The point that just because the conflict isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it’s not happening, stuck.

Whilst the charity is no stranger to video marketing, this campaign launched the brand into the stratosphere, and instantly went viral. As of now it currently has over 35 million views, and that number continues to rise.

Save The Children haven’t let this popularity go to waste though, as they continue to use video content to spread awareness, ensuring their message is not lost.

Follow in the footsteps of these brands, and the success of your campaign should not come as such a shock.

The Bad

Whilst not necessarily a campaign, here’s a prime example of how leveraging Halloween as an event can so easily go wrong:

Asda: #MentalPatient


A lot of personal Halloween costumes often straddle the line between being funny, spooky and risqué. Whilst the risqué costumes are sometimes acceptable among friends, they’re certainly not okay to be distributed on a national level, by a brand that caters to all audiences. A brand like Asda for instance.

The successful superstore chain landed itself in hot water last year when its ‘Mental Patient’ costume caused a Twitter storm – for pretty obvious reasons.

Mental health charities Mind and Time To Change launched the #mentalpatient hashtag, imploring the company to have the costume removed from the site, and to help end the stigma attached to phrases like ‘Mental Patient’.

Individual users tweeted their own photos of actual people suffering from mental illnesses to help support the cause, and as a result, Asda issued this apology:

They also made a large donation to Mind, but the damage, for the most part, was already done.

The Ugly

Devil’s Due: Devil Baby

If evil had a face, it would be this baby:

Created to promote the horror film Devil’s Due, this video of a terrifying prank amassed tens thousands of views in just a few days. It’s a shame the film was nowhere near as good as this advert.

To Scare, Or Not To Scare?

Should you use shocking content to boost awareness of your digital campaign?

A study from the Journal Of Advertising Research found that shocking content in advertisements can significantly increase viewers’ attention rate, whilst also benefiting recall and influence.

With that in mind, as long as you carry it out effectively, without upsetting or annoying your audience, the odd shock or two might actually benefit your campaign.

For more information on creating a winning campaign, visit our services section, or contact a member of our sales team to see what we can do for your business.

Image Credit by BigStock Images.

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Harry Gardiner
About the author

Harry Gardiner

    At a statuesque 98ft tall (or 6ft 7”, whatever) Harry’s head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to social media. He’s also got mad DJ skills and is a lover of Pugs, bacon and if you tell him you haven’t seen a certain movie, he will make you watch it. You’ve been warned.

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