Paramount took integrated marketing to a new level with an elaborate, terrifying promotional stunt for Rings on Monday, Jan. 23.
The world first met Samara, the eerie young girl with matted hair and a penchant for crawling out of television screens, in 2002 when the first Ring movie premiered. The sequel followed in 2005, freaking out audiences around the world with the potent combination of prophetic phone calls, fuzzy TV screens, and burning trees.
But it’s been over a decade since we last saw Samara, and Paramount wants to make sure we haven’t forgotten her.
— Rings Movie (@RingsMovie) January 25, 2017
For the three people left in the world who have not seen The Ring franchise or at least heard the extensive cultural references it’s provoked, the premise involves Samara crawling out of a TV set and telling naïve viewers that they have seven days left to live.
And that’s exactly what she did to unsuspecting customers at an electronics store in upstate New York.
Their average Monday morning shopping trip was interrupted by a visit from one of the most horrifying fictional children in entertainment history—it was Samara, bedraggled in a white, muddy dress and shaggy hair covering her face—crawling out of a TV set, as she is wont to do.
To prepare for this prank, Paramount built a fake wall inside the store, and covered it with actual TV screens showing trailers for Rings. Then, an actress dressed up as Samara emerged from a hidden compartment below one of the TVs.
The stunt went viral, as one would expect when a muddy, telekinetic demon-child crawls out of a 4K Samsung flat-screen.
Time called the campaign one of the most “engaging and on-brand (albeit, terrifying) promotions for a film in years.”
One Twitter user went so far as to say the prank deserved an Oscar.
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) January 24, 2017
With over 200 million views in less than 24 hours, this level of buzz is unprecedented, according to Adweek.
Rings hits theaters on Feb. 3, 2017. That’s nearly seven days from now, so we still have a bit of time to rid our homes of any cryptic VHS tapes. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking Samara hasn’t progressed with technology—rumor has it, she’s adapted to using slightly more modern ways of stalking her prey, such as sending emails and viral videos.
Open that attachment if you dare.
Twitter is still talking about this stunt. What are your thoughts? Tweet @RingsMovie to share your frightening experience.