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The Walking Dead Guide on How to Not Run a Marketing Campaign


Creative Commons photo courtesy of mensan98th

Walkers are set to stalk television screens across the globe again now that the latest season of AMC’s zombie-rific “The Walking Dead” is back on Sunday, Feb. 10.

And, interestingly enough, there is a lot to learn from the show’s characters. Sure, being equipped for the beginning of the zombpocalypse is one of them, but there’s more, too.

In fact, as marketers, we can learn things from the characters on “The Walking Dead.”

They can show us how not to run a marketing campaign.

Keep it secret

The governor was a major new character in the first part of season 3. And as was seen at the conclusion to the first half of the season, people don’t take too kindly when you keep secrets.

Marketing takeaway: Be open, be vocal. Keeping secrets will not get you points with your target audience, and it certainly won’t with your coworkers.

Go off on your own

Another new character, Michonne, worked with the main group of characters in season 3. But toward the end, she went off on her own, trying to confront someone she did not trust.

Marketing takeaway: Communication is key. Without it, mistakes will be made, and unintended consequences will be unleashed. Don’t think that you know best.

Ignore surroundings

Rick wakes up in the hospital in season 1. Eventually he decides to head to Atlanta. When he gets into the streets of the city, he spots some walkers (the show’s term for zombies). He heads away from them, only to turn a corner straight into a horde of zombies.

Marketing takeaway: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your scouting work. And make sure you find takeaways at the end of the campaign.

Remain in fear

When the group in season 2 found Hershel’s farm, life seemed good. But then the group found out about a barn, and that drove some to fear it. Others were cautious or curious about it, a more level-headed approach.

Marketing takeaway: Experiment. Perform multiple tests. Don’t be afraid to fail.

How else do the characters’ actions show us what not to do as marketers?

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