Brand attachment evident in horror flicks: UBC study
University of B.C. researchers have found a connection between emotional ties to brand products caused by watching scary movies, countering industry beliefs that advertising during horror flicks is bad for business.
PhD graduate Lea Dunn, one of the researchers, conducted tests on 550 students — getting subjects to view scary movies and observing how they interact with products such as fizzy drinks or candy — over a 16-month period before concluding her findings.
“I knew that in psychology when people are afraid they actually join together … you seek out other people and you feel closer with those people afterwards,” she said.
“We have this innate understanding that brands have something more, that they’re more than just a logo, they have these traits attached to them.”
In other words, someone who watches a scary flick with a brand-named product leaves feeling like they’ve shared “an experience” with the product, Dunn said, similar to the connections made through sharing traumatic experiences with others.
In one study, she tested participants using zip-locked bags of jellybeans. Some of the bags had a New York company’s brand sticker while others were blank.
Those who were left with the brand-name bags rated their feelings of emotional attachment highest, using terms such as “affectionate, passionate, connected, friendly, delighted” and more.
Those who shared the movie with the unnamed jellybeans were unaffected.
Dunn, an avid horror flick fan, pursued the research after noticing a lack of “product placement” ads in the genre.
“It seems marketers are afraid of their brand associated with this content, they’re afraid the negative emotion would affect the brand itself,” she said.
However, Dunn expects her findings could promote brand loyalty among movie fans if properly used.
“I’m sure we don’t want a branded chainsaw on Leatherface, but maybe if the main character has branded shoes — that would be good.”