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Don’t be a
zombie
brandlessons from The
Walking Dead
Philip Ellis
B y J e r e my K at z ,
W o r l d w i d e E d i t o r i a l D i r e c to r ,
O g i lv y & M at h e r
D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d –
l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d
P h i l i p E l l i s
MediaCom’s Jon Gittings picked
the delicious brains of The Walking Dead
star Steven Yeun, executive producer
Dave Alpert and AMC network CEO Josh
Sapan, to find out what brands can learn
from blood, guts and zombie attacks.
D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d –
l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d
P h i l i p E l l i s
Storytelling
should be
dangerous
“[Fans] care about characters in a way
that is really visceral,” says Josh Sapan, CEO of the
AMC network. Part of The Walking Dead’s appeal is
that your favourite character could be killed off at any
moment. Nobody is safe, and viewers actually enjoy
having narrative conventions pulled out from under
them – as long as it makes sense within the story.
1
D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d –
l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d
P h i l i p E l l i s
Marketing
shouldn’t feel
like marketing
The Walking Dead’s companion show, The
Talking Dead, is popular among fans because
it’s not seen as a premeditated marketing exercise;
the creators of the show are as passionate about
the stories and characters as the viewers.
2
D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d –
l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d
P h i l i p E l l i s
Guts and GIFs
Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn, believes that the
wealth of fan-created content online is an untapped
resource when it comes to shaping future seasons.
“It could be terrible, or it could be awesome,” he
says. Stories based on memes? Count us in.
3
D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d –
l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d
P h i l i p E l l i s
What the zombie
apocalypse tells us
about consumers
Cultural attitudes will always influence how
consumers engage with a story; for example, an American or
Briton is likely to immerse themselves in a survivalist mentality.
The Europeans, on the other hand, would adopt a more
pragmatic approach, i.e. sit around and wait for orders.
4

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Don't be a Zombie Brand #OgilvyCannes #CannesLions

  • 1. Don’t be a zombie brandlessons from The Walking Dead Philip Ellis B y J e r e my K at z , W o r l d w i d e E d i t o r i a l D i r e c to r , O g i lv y & M at h e r
  • 2. D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d – l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d P h i l i p E l l i s MediaCom’s Jon Gittings picked the delicious brains of The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun, executive producer Dave Alpert and AMC network CEO Josh Sapan, to find out what brands can learn from blood, guts and zombie attacks.
  • 3. D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d – l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d P h i l i p E l l i s Storytelling should be dangerous “[Fans] care about characters in a way that is really visceral,” says Josh Sapan, CEO of the AMC network. Part of The Walking Dead’s appeal is that your favourite character could be killed off at any moment. Nobody is safe, and viewers actually enjoy having narrative conventions pulled out from under them – as long as it makes sense within the story. 1
  • 4. D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d – l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d P h i l i p E l l i s Marketing shouldn’t feel like marketing The Walking Dead’s companion show, The Talking Dead, is popular among fans because it’s not seen as a premeditated marketing exercise; the creators of the show are as passionate about the stories and characters as the viewers. 2
  • 5. D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d – l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d P h i l i p E l l i s Guts and GIFs Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn, believes that the wealth of fan-created content online is an untapped resource when it comes to shaping future seasons. “It could be terrible, or it could be awesome,” he says. Stories based on memes? Count us in. 3
  • 6. D o n ’ t b e a z o m b i e b r a n d – l e s s o n s f r o m T h e W a l k i n g D e a d P h i l i p E l l i s What the zombie apocalypse tells us about consumers Cultural attitudes will always influence how consumers engage with a story; for example, an American or Briton is likely to immerse themselves in a survivalist mentality. The Europeans, on the other hand, would adopt a more pragmatic approach, i.e. sit around and wait for orders. 4