When season four of the hit TV show The Walking Dead came to the Fox Channel in Portugal, the people responsible for the show’s PR used experiential marketing to come up with a fantastic way of raising awareness and making a big impression.
Before revealing any details, it’s probably worth briefly explaining what the show is about, in case you’ve never seen it. The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror drama based on the comic book series of the same name. It’s about a sheriff who comes out of a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. There’s your context, there’s your setting…
The Walking Dead gang (including creative agency Torke+CC) teamed up with Portugal’s national blood bank institute IPST to create ‘The Walking Dead Blood Store’, where blood was accepted as currency. While this was clearly an effort to get people talking about the new season, the experiential marketing campaign added a nice touch – it also increased blood donations.
In terms of the concept of combining pop-up shops with blood donations, it was a World first. It was a well-thought out plan – anyone donating blood could use their donation to ‘buy’ ‘The Walking Dead’ merchandise (and the more blood you donated, the better the products).
Continuing the theme, donors were then encouraged to ‘contaminate’ their friends and family with the idea of doing the same. The IPST saw a 571% increase in blood donations compared to the previous year, and over two thirds of the donations were made by first-time donors.
The blood and gore initially gives a pretty gruesome impression of this PR stunt, but actually, the idea has kinder roots than most experiential marketing campaigns. It was extremely successful for many parties, so perhaps that’s the crucial lesson to take away?