image of the blair witch project movie wallpaper

Why was The Blair Witch Project so popular? Exploring Marketing Strategy

Seven years ago, when The Blair Witch Project showed up, it had the world dancing to its tune. Why, you ask? Well apart from the creepy factor that it tacked on, it made an assertion. That the movie was an actual footage of students who disappeared in the woods, and that everything that happened, really happened. So, even whilst the world watched ensuing chaos in stark dead silence, in the back of their mind, they were thinking it was all a true story.


One of the directors of the movie, Eduardo Sanchez went so far as to create a website in order to nail the myth further down. His website built this hoax around every character in the movie, and declared them dead too. They claimed the tape was actually retrieved and then was edited down to fit the cinema view time. Creators had claimed that it was the actual footage. Hence, the world went nuts.

image of a godzilla footprint

That’s what worked for it in the first place. The lie that it was built on. It reminds me of how as a kid I went on to create a gargantuan footprint in my backyard to have my friends convinced that Godzilla had actually stepped on our lawn. I was so sure that I would create its left leg imprint as well in the nearby field, to make it seem all very palpable, that if it weren’t for the exhaustion my fake Dino might have had a chance. It would have created the next day’s headlines. At least in my head, it would have.

That very equation, the thrill it tags along when you say a ghost is real, or a witch’s black magic made it happen, that’s what rivets our attention instantly. Had they cleared that out even before releasing The Blair Witch Project, maybe it wouldn’t have remained as popular.


No wonder, there are marketing statements whenever a horror movie releases. Like when someone claims you cannot watch this movie alone, and you take it up as a challenge. You wonder if it is really that scary. But the bottom-line is with an assertive defiance gnawing at your soul, you end up watching the movie. Just to see that for yourself, as to what makes someone fling such a ballsy assertion?

It has worked many times in the past, still works every time, and will keep on working in the long run. Because for a split second we let our sanity get deluged by our fear quotient.

The Blair Witch Project’s marketing was beyond that. They had thought it all through, to make a hoax so palpable that the whole world would believe it. They buried their actors and asked them not to show up until their lie came out first out in the open. Hell Donahue’s mother would even receive sympathy cards!

image of the blair witch project girl Heather Donohue


Directors of The Blair Witch Project made sure that video camera shots looked realistic bringing the right amount of shakiness to it. Emotions oozed out real, and they wanted to make sure that despair spoke enough. Nobody wants to be shot at when they are really pissed. So, there was always someone shouting at poor Heather who wished to document everything.

Not even for a second in the movie do we get to see a glimpse of the witch. But her witchcraft acts are strewn all across. Bawling voices of the children, voo doo acts across the tent, mysterious disappearance of Josh and messing with the head of the cast are all suggestive of badass sorcery.

It is a great way of shooting the movie actually, as that elemental surprise is always lurking in it. You are constantly wondering how a witch might appear out of the blue and scare you. You invariably shiver to that very thought.

Haven’t watched it yet? You can buy the DVD from here:


Now that a follow up of The Blair Witch Project is going to hit the theatres pretty soon, I don’t really have high hopes for it. Primarily because the world already knows. Even if you end up hunting the real witch and show glimpses of her, it still wouldn’t be the same. Primarily because it will always lack the freshness of the original, and the insane viral lie Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez created is now out in the open.

Check out the trailer of the Blair Witch Project, the first installment here:

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