Zombies Are the New Vampires

The other night I settled down to watch TV after dinner and happened upon the newest History Channel documentary, “Zombies: A Living History.It explores the concept of the undead from the Ancient Greeks to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to modern day horror flicks.

The Zombie trend has swept the nation in a bigger way than even vampires. While they don’t have the sex appeal of Edward Cullen or Eric Northman, Zombies have invaded our pop culture, and not just in TV shows and comic books. They are being featured in advertising campaigns, and big brands like Toshiba and Honda have caught the infection. Even the Center for Disease Control has a Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness kit that uses this hypothetical event to encourage people to get prepared for “real emergencies.” In the social media world, there is Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s “Keep the Party Screaming” campaign featuring an app that allows users to Zombify their Facebook pictures, an approach destined to spread Mike’s message faster than the Z germ. Here’s what it did to a bunch of my coworkers:

So where did these brain parasites come from, and how have they spread so quickly to the cultural phenomenon it is today? According to Zombie expert Max Brooks:

Zombies are apocalyptic, and we’re living in times of great fear. A long time ago, there was a thing called the 1970s, when we had great anxiety, people didn’t know which direction the world was going in, and you had a lot of zombie movies. In the ’80s and ’90s, we got back to normal, and nobody wanted to talk about the apocalypse. Not so much now. Zombies let us explore notions of the apocalypse –no water, food, medical care, the government imploding — while letting us sleep at night.

An article by CNBC supports this theory, and also points to examples of Zombies taking over economic and political discussions with terms like “Zombie Bank” and “Zombie Capitalism.”

So if the Zombie Apocalypse craze is a reflection of how consumers are feeling uncertain and anxious, is it a good idea to associate your brand with them? I think the examples above have pulled it off. Mixing a little irreverence into the feeling of impending doom might make us all feel a little better.

For further reading on Zombie Apocalypse, check out The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks and have a Happy Halloween!

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