The season when you’re encouraged to be scared and eat sweets is here, and that means for the past month, retailers across the country have been capitalizing on the cobwebs and candy, ghosts, gore and more that surround the Halloween holiday. Halloween is one of the most lucrative holidays of the year for retailers, and consumer spending was expected to reach an all-time high in 2017 at $9.1 billion across the U.S. With numbers like that, brands that are not using Halloween as a part of their marketing strategies throughout the month of October have been missing out. Conversely, a number of big-name brands have made the most of the holiday with a variety of head-turning Halloween marketing campaigns in 2017.
Some of them are spookily delightful, while others might be scarily questionable, but here are a few Halloween marketing campaigns that caught our eye this year.
You may see the image above and think McDonald’s, and that’s kind of the idea. In Burger King’s 2017 Halloween marketing campaign, the burger chain is inviting people to visit select Burger King restaurants dressed as a clown to get free Whoppers. Not only is this essentially trolling McDonalds, but it is Burger King capitalizing on the fact that clowns are a popular costume this year, with the resurgence of Stephen King’s “IT” having reached theaters in September. With the tagline “Come as a clown, eat like a king,” Burger King has taken what is typically a taboo topic for its brand and turned it into a playful jab at its arch rival (pun intended) while keeping consumer trends in mind. Watch the full #ScaryClownNight video here.
Smarties Candy Co.
With fall being an understandably huge season for candy brands, coming up with creative Halloween marketing campaigns becomes even more significant. In 2017, after announcing three new co-presidents, Smarties Candy Co. took its Halloween marketing down the path of utility for parents looking for child costume inspiration this year. Smarties created a microsite that showcases DIY child costumes collected from parent blog sites portraying “smarties” throughout history like Neil Armstrong, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and others. The posts include an introduction of parent and child, the materials you’ll need to make the costume yourself and the steps for making the costume. With a name set up for success, the colorful candy tablets created a draw by providing consumers something they are all desperately seeking around Halloween—guidance for an unforgettable costume.
In the UK, Fanta, a Coca-Cola-owned brand, took its Halloween marketing to an interactive level supported by virtual reality, augmented reality and Snapchat. For the first phase of the campaign, Fanta launched an outdoor virtual reality experience that will be shown at Thorpe Park and Westfield Stratford until Nov. 1 and East London until Nov. 29. In the experience, guests enter an “elevator” and ride it to the 13th floor, where they are invited to attend a Halloween party—and the spooky effects go from there. In-store, Fanta also launched limited edition packaging featuring a QR code that gives users access to branded Snapchat filters and lenses—specific to Fanta and Halloween. The campaign marks Fanta’s biggest investment ever in the Halloween season and successfully employs cutting-edge technology to engage its customer base, which is primarily the millennial demographic.
Svedka Vodka’s Halloween-themed digital campaign is definitely creative, but arguably creepy. Playing on peoples’ fears of targeted ads, the brand launched a “Banner Ad Curse,” which starts with seasonal cocktail recipes appearing on peoples’ pre-rolls and social feeds. With one click-through, users are taken to the Svedka website where this “curse” video awaits. After watching the video, viewers are now under Svedka’s “curse,” which means that video banner ads will start to follow them around on the internet, targeted to a user’s location, vodka preferences and web browsing tendencies. To break the curse, users can visit a Svedka microsite and share a link to “infect” their friends with the curse, which in essence, starts the cycle all over again. Creepy? Kind of. But in the spirit of the Halloween holiday, Svedka is just playing on the common fear of peoples’ every digital move being tracked. And hey, it’s sure to get you thinking about Svedka Vodka (whether you are thinking you love it or you hate it).
Halloween marketing campaigns are smart to exploit popular culture, and such is the case in the digital campaign from Farmers Insurance this October. A nod to the hit Netflix show “Stranger Things,” Farmers created a campaign titled “The Stranger Claims,” showcased in 360-degree haunted house experience on the Farmers Insurance website. When users “enter” the haunted house, they will discover touch points that lead to short videos highlighting real-life strange insurances claim that Farmers has actually covered, from a wolf appearing in the backseat of a woman’s car to a strange rock formation appearing in someone’s driveway. If anything, these strange claims are just downright interesting—and will make for some good conversation starters at this year’s Halloween party.
Sometimes the best way to advertise your brand on Halloween is to get people to wear it. That’s exactly what Snap, parent company of social media platform Snapchat, did this year. The company launched its signature dancing hot dog, which has become an unofficial mascot for Snapchat, in costume form, which is now available for purchase on Amazon. The dancing hot dog has appeared as an augmented reality feature on Snapchat as well as a Bitmoji, solidifying its association with the technology that allows users to send photos and videos that only stick around for a matter of seconds before disappearing. Sure, branded costumes are no new thing. But it’s one of those tried and true strategies that will work so long as people are willing to buy them. And with Snapchat currently peaking in popularity among the younger generation, there’s no better time for the company to take advantage of wearable marketing for Halloween.
Fox Networks and Mars Candy teamed up this Halloween to create short horror films that actually have nothing to do with the candy’s branding, but that boost credibility for both companies. Fox and Mars connected with up-and-coming horror directors to create a series of “Bite Size Horror” films, each two minutes long, that have been aired on Fox Networks leading up to Halloween. For example, “Floor 9.5,” presented by Skittles, tells the story of a woman who gets stuck on the elevator between the ninth and tenth floors at her office. When the door opens…, well, that’s just where you’ll have to watch and see what happens. Other films include “The Road” presented by M&Ms, “Live Bait,” presented by Snickers and “Replacement” presented by Starburst. The quality of the films bodes well for the brands, which did not worry about jam-packing their logos into the run time (However, they do appear as lead-ins to the films.) The campaign goes to show that sometimes it’s less about your brand, and more about what your brand can do. Click here to watch all of the videos.
The intrigue of Halloween marketing campaigns is the opportunity for brands to employ inventive marketing materials that encompass a range from frightening to fun and everything in between. There is more leeway with this holiday in the marketing world than any other in regard to the path you lead your followers down, and they’ll appreciate you for getting creative.
For help with your next holiday marketing campaign, contact the McNutt & Partners team today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page!