Product Placement Most Effective When Viewers Are Scared?

When mapping out product placement strategies, marketers often avoid scary movies so that consumers will not associate their brands with fear. However, a recent study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business suggests that viewers, especially when alone, are actually more likely to remember products and think of them favorably when they see them in a scary movie. When subjects of the study experienced fear, they also experienced an emotional attachment to familiar brands.

“Lea Dunn, a Ph.D. student at Sauder, ran a series of studies in which people watched movie clips designed to evoke specific emotions (fear, sadness, humor, neutral, excitement, etc),” reports Businessweek.

“Afterwards, the subjects were surveyed about their emotional response to the branded products near them during the viewing. The results showed that when people felt fear, they experienced an increased emotional attachment to the brands that had been with them. The emotional attachment increased when the subjects felt alone.”

Since fear works differently than other emotions, the study found that the relationship between a brand and an individual improves while experiencing media considered frightening.

“When people feel scared, they look for affiliation and attachment, and brands are there to pick up the slack for loners,” notes the article. “It’s the same emotional satisfaction that’s derived from a teddy bear or a blankie — except now it’s potato chips.”

Interestingly, while the attachment is visual, it does not have to be based on what appears on the screen. It can also be based on products or corporate logos that are in physical proximity of the consumer.

“This research opens up new possibilities for marketers to be creative on new opportunities — perhaps Snickers should give free samples out to moviegoers at a scary movie,” explains Businessweek.