What’s Missing From Most Haunted House Commercials? – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Explains

People spend 8 billion dollars annually on Halloween.

Halloween Advertising Is Usually Anything But Scary.

What’s the one thing you’re paying for when going to a haunted house?

  • to scream your lungs out?
  • be startled into helplessness?
  • to be shocked into shock?

Actually, it’s none of those.

Wanna know what it is?

Want me to tell you???


You’re paying for suspense.

It is the anticipation of what is to come next that is truly the most terrifying part of any good haunted attraction.

Keep that in mind as you watch/listen to these first three haunted house commercials.

(At the end of this post, I’ll give you a haunted house commercial idea that would be incredibly effective…and one that I’ve never seen.)

Boo! More Like BOOOOOOO (thumbs down)

First, one of my core principles of copy writing for any advertisement: don’t fill the ad with too many words…or things for me to remember. Here’s a good example of what not to do in a haunted house television commercial:

Conversely, this television advertisement for a haunted house in Pennsylvania doesn’t use an announcer or voice-over at all:

Here’s a radio ad for the “Carnival Of Carnage” which could have been far better if the story were being told only by a clown, instead of some disembodied voice:

No suspense, all noise. Not scary.

Finally, Some Actual Copy Writing Effort

This is from 1978. Without the computer technology we have today, they had to rely on actual storytelling. This is by far the best commercial I’m sharing with you:

The Best Halloween Ad I’ve Never Seen

Would be one with just a picture of a door. Nothing else for the entire commercial.

Something like this:

Your Haunted House Commercial should just be this for the entire ad

What’s behind this door?

A sample script:

“Unforgiving. Relentless. Terrifying.

That’s how those who have opened this door describe what’s behind it. 

Open this door, and come face-to-face with your deepest, darkest fears.

You can’t imagine what’s on the other side. We’ve done it for you.”

Then add in the name of the attraction and website.

The script above which I wrote is very rough, but it’s far better than the first three commercials I shared with you.

Pro Tip: Let The Audience Imagine Your Attraction

Most professional haunters (the industry term for a haunted house operator) seem hell-bent on using graphic images and too many sound effects to attract their audience.

They also try to list every single thing that’s inside in their commercials.

That is a common, and massive mistake.

It’s far more creepy and effective to let the audience imagine what your haunted house has in it (“what’s behind this door?”).

The Secret Sauce:

As I stated earlier, if you give away the surprise, there can be no suspense.


That is what virtually every person who pays to go inside is expecting.

So give it to them in your advertising, professional haunters.

Tim Burt



About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Advice, Commercial, radio, Television, video and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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