On The Walking Dead’s series premiere in 2010, zombies—or walkers, as they’re known on the show—had overtaken the city of Atlanta. Now they are running amok in New York.
Walkers will be roaming the city’s biggest landmarks, including Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building and Union Square, in an AMC activation ahead of the show’s Season 9 premiere on Sunday night.
From Thursday through Sunday, which also coincides withNew York Comic Con, a Walking Dead-branded truck is traveling around New York, transporting walkers. It will stop at various spots, where the walkers will interact with the crowd. AMC is keeping the timing of specific stops under wraps but said the truck will be present during the show’s Comic Con panel on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“The NYCC panel is the night before our fall premiere, so it’s almost like our Super Bowl,” said Justin Manfredi, svp of marketing for AMC and Sundance TV. “This is really our opportunity to ignite their fandom and allow them to engage with the brand in a unique and memorable way.”
When planning the show’s Season 9 campaign, Manfredi’s team thought this would generate the biggest splash among fans.
“We know that it’s most meaningful for people to share their own fandom through their personal social lens. In today’s world, everything is an Instagramable moment, so what better way to mark this new season than to have walkers in NYC with the backdrop of some of the biggest landmarks in the world,” said Manfredi.
This isn’t the first time that AMC has unleashed zombies in New York to promote the show. The network once placed a giant zombie hand in Times Square surrounded by walkers, with fingers falling off each day to mark the countdown to the drama’s new season. In another activation, walkers in subway grates surprised New Yorkers as they walked by.
“Walker selfies are definitely a thing in the city this weekend,” said Manfredi. “We’ve already seen levels of engagement that have dwarfed anything we have seen before.”
Even after nine seasons of The Walking Dead and four seasons of its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, the team said it hasn’t exhausted its ideas for walker-themed activations, like the Fear-inspired walker slide at July’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“The focus is on trying to make each time more fun, more engaging and more of a spectacle than the time before. If anything, we’ve just scratched the surface,” Manfredi said.
The Walking Dead remains one of TV’s most popular shows. Last season, the show averaged 11.8 million viewers in live-plus-7 and a 5.3 rating in the 18–49 demo, which translates to a demo audience of 6.8 million.