Brilliant: Zig scares up viral for Scream

In a move so smart it's scary, Toronto-based Zig's ACDs Stephen Leps and Aaron Starkman rigged a Halloween stunt that landed a ton of attention on YouTube, the blogsphere and even the National Post for client Scream TV.

In a move so smart it’s scary, Toronto-based Zig’s ACDs Stephen Leps and Aaron Starkman rigged a Halloween stunt that landed a ton of attention on YouTube, the blogsphere and even the National Post for client Scream TV.

With a tiny budget, Leps and Starkman knew they’d have to do something radical to scare up attention for Rita Ferrari, director of marketing, Corus Entertainment. So, in the weeks leading up to Halloween, they did up a Victorian house in downtown Toronto with a 3D projector to create the illusion of a haunted house, with a spooky child in a top-floor window. Once the seed was planted, they began to spread the word. ‘We started leaking it online that the house really was haunted,’ explains Leps. As people started showing up to see if it was true, the team upped the ante and had the ‘ghost’ skip from window to window.

The crowds kept coming, and images of the ghost popped up on blogs, YouTube, and even a spread in the National Post. The stunt capped off with the ghost holding up a sign with the campaign’s tag: ‘Get scared more often on Scream TV.’ The team says it’s too hard to calculate the free media value they scored, but it’s certainly more than the $50K budget.

‘In today’s weird marketing environment, you’ve got to out-smart, not out-spend,’ says Starkman. ‘Our client was a partner in making this happen. They believed the power of the Internet could be huge in creating buzz, and that this kind of marketing approach would generate the numbers they needed.’

Starkman’s favourite part? ‘We liked the doubt we put into people’s heads about whether this was real or not.’