As if zombies aren’t scary enough, AMC Network has produced a custom-made spot featuring notorious Halloween villain Michael Myers to promote Universal Pictures’ new version of the horror classic that will air during Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.
The spot is part of a larger advertising and branded content deal between Universal and AMC, which is also airing the original Halloween--marking its 40th anniversary--and a marathon of the Halloween sequels as part of its annual FearFest trick-or-treat season stunt.
Before it airs the original Halloween, AMC will present original content and promos featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, who starred in the first film and reprises her role in the new one, as well as John Carpenter, who directed the original and is consulting on the new film.
Scott Collins, president of ad sales for AMC Networks says this scary project was actually fun.
“We think this is the coming together of two really great iconic brands and the synergy that follows,” Collins said. “I think it’s cool that when you’ start watching that spot, you don’t know who it is yet. It’s kind of quiet and then that [Halloween] music pops up at the end.”
The spot was shot at on the Walking Dead set. It shows an ominous figure walking behind a car in a junkyard. But he’s not dead. Or undead. It is serial killer star of of the movie that started the slasher-film genre. The spot teases a “special look” at scenes from the new film that will be shown during The Walking Dead.
A 30-second version of the spot aired Thursday. A 15-second version will air Sunday during The Walking Dead.
Collins said the idea was conjured up as part of Universal’s upfront ad buy. Universal shared its priorities and saw the fit with AMC because of The Walking Dead and FearFest.
“It’s impossible to decide which would be more terrifying: a surprise attack from a horde of walkers or the pure, unstoppable evil that is Michael Myers,” said Annah Zafrani, senior VP of integrated marketing, Universal Pictures. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with The Walking Dead to play on their nightmarish playground. The Walking Dead fans are also huge movie fans, so it seemed like a perfect fit for our two brands. We’re excited that fans will be able to see exclusive footage of Halloween this Sunday on AMC. ”
In addition to creating material that promotes Universal’s film, AMC gets the benefit of having content featuring Curtis and Carpenter in vignettes, billboards, bumpers and tagged tune in promos on its air as it runs Halloween and other horror movies.
“That just elevates FearFest to a different level,” Collins said.”We are the home of Halloween so the timing is wonderful. A lot of time when sequels or remakes are in the theaters, the original really pops, so we’re excited about that.”
FearFest has been a long running feature on AMC. Collins said it generates strong ratings numbers and attracts brands that are advertising during the Halloween season.
This year FearFest kicks off Sunday with a Halloween marathon that runs from 7:30 a.m. to 7:34 p.m. Fearfest als features the 45th anniversary of The Exorcist, the 35th anniversary of Christine and the 25th anniversary of Army of Darkness.
Later on Sunday, The Walking Dead’s second episode of its ninth season will air. It will be preceded by a six second spot, Collins said. AMC began selling six-second spots in a standalone pod between the end of a rerun of the previous week’s Walking Dead episode and the start of the premiere episodes, commanding a premium price for the real estate.
There was no six second spot last Sunday before the season premiere. “We respond to the marketplace, so when people have six-second creative that they’re looking to get some unique placement, its an ideal opportunity,” Collins said. American Express ran a series of six-second ads before the start of several episodes of this past season of Fear the Walking Dead.
Though its ratings have slipped from its peak, there is strong advertiser demand overall for The Walking Dead this season. “We’re very well sold,” he said. We have the story line of Rick Grimes’ final episodes. I think creatively the show in a great position.”