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Campaign Spotlight – Movie Mortality

Jack Bamfield

Jack Bamfield

March 23, 2020

We may all be working from home because of the coronavirus outbreak, but our spirits at Verve Search are still high. We recently celebrated the success of our second consecutive viral campaign, weeks after the success of Insta Wealth. It was a tough act to follow, but Movie Mortality for Buzz Bingo managed over 200 links AND caught the attention of one of the campaign’s stars.

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Some actors have a reputation for their frequent on-screen deaths. Sean Bean for example is renowned by his fan-base for being killed in many of his movies. However, we wanted to add to the debate by finding out which actors die the most in their movies, and which most likely to be killed in a movie role.

We have had success with movie campaigns in the past. Director’s Cut, On Location and Remake My Day all proved popular with journalists. We know that the topic has potential for lots of coverage if we have a strong methodology and eye-catching headlines.

Movie Mortality was created with a simple methodology that journalists can easily explain, and a database with all the answers. We started with a seed list of 1,500 of the world’s top actors, taken from the most popular actors on IMDb. The total count of their on-screen deaths was found using Cinemorgue, a fan-created database with over 7,000 movie fatalities.

We cross-referenced each actor’s deaths with their total filmography to determine the actors with the greatest likelihood of dying on-screen. To find out which years saw the most movie deaths, we found the top 50 highest-grossing films for every year between 1980 and 2018 using IMDb, and then each film on the list was searched on Cinemorgue to determine the death count.

The design of the splash page and the campaign’s look-and-feel were inspired by the iconic movie poster for ‘Pulp Fiction’. The style embodies the spirit of carnage that plagues the unfortunate actors featured in the campaign. We included a gender breakdown of movie deaths, a top 10 overall list, a top 10 ‘most likely to die’ list, and a chart featuring the deadliest years in film.

Our initial outreach focused on Kit Harrington’s 62.5% chance of death in films. The headline provided some interesting opportunities for coverage, especially as Harrington’s character Jon Snow was killed and resurrected in ‘Game of Thrones’. Metro were the first to link speculating on Harrington’s next film role in Marvel’s ‘The Eternals’.

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This angle alone would have made Movie Mortality a hit campaign. However, it became viral thanks to the mortality of Hollywood stalwart Danny Trejo, who was killed in 65 of his roles. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian, who initially covered the Kit Harrington angle, wrote up second article explaining why Trejo dies in so many movies, and how he beat out Christopher Lee as Hollywood’s most-killed actor.

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Other sites, including the Independent, covered the story as a Top 10 list, but it still produced enticing headlines for readers.

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Movie Mortality proved to be a hugely successful outreach campaign, with 211 links and a total of 10,581 Link Score (Verve’s own tool using a combination of metrics to measure the value of links). We got coverage from a range of top-tier sites including GQ, Fox News, Guardian, Lad Bible, MSN, Huffington Post, Observer, Daily Express, Metro and Yahoo.


In addition, the campaign findings were referenced in 159 pieces of additional unlinked coverage. The campaign has also been covered several times in print including features in the US edition of The Guardian (twice) as well as featuring in TV and Radio. Articles mentioning our campaign were shared 161,850 times from some relevant high-profile social media accounts, including Danny Trejo himself!


Following the success of a campaign like Insta Wealth was a challenge, but Movie Mortality proved to be a worthy successor thanks to an effective concept idea with a large database behind it, eye-catching headlines and a veteran actor who was more than happy to be named Hollywood’s most-killed actor.

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