Ghosts, witches, skeletons, treat or treating, etc. Halloween is best known for the cultural diversity it brings with itself, and businesses grasp this day as an opportunity. They seek maximum chances to leverage Halloween for offering a unique value proposition through their cleverly thought out marketing campaigns.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best Halloween marketing campaigns of all time!
What better way to kick-off than with Burger King’s ingenious #ScaryClownNight campaign. It combined clever trolling of McDonald’s and their famous clown mascot.
Burger King offered a free Whopper to the first 500 people that visited selected restaurants dressed as a clown. The campaign was rolled out and promoted with a creepy YouTube video with the hashtag #ScaryClownNight. In addition to the YouTube video, Burger King also released a digital print iteration of the campaign, which included a number of images that featured terrifying clowns holding a Whopper. Under each of the image, the slogan read “Come as a clown, eat as a king.”
A campaign that combines free food, clowns and trolls? A Whopper of an idea from Burger King!
An emotion that works incredibly well in marketing is nostalgia. A good example of this would be to think about Disney movie remakes like The Lion King and Mulan. The adults who watched the original movies in the 1990s enjoy a nostalgic trip back to their childhood, while their kids fall in love with the new versions at the same time.
UNICEF did something similar to this in 2019 with their “Halloween Heroes – Nostalgia For a New Generation” marketing campaign. It was a reboot of their traditional Halloween Heros campaign that they’d run every year but wrapped up in 2006. The original concept was that kids would go trick or treating with orange UNICEF boxes and asking for donations while collecting their sweets.
However, in 2019, UNICEF launched their Halloween Heros campaign in a fully digital format based on four “hero” characters representing children’s rights in areas like home security, education, nutrition and water. Both children and adults could become “Halloween Heros” themselves by setting up their own fundraising pages. After registering, they could then pick which hero they’d want to raise funds for and then set a target goal. Once someone had reached their goal, they were then inducted into the UNICEF Canada Hall of Halloween Heroes.
What this campaign proved is that when it comes to content marketing, you don’t always need to have a new and original idea. Sometimes you can modernise an old campaign and inspire a new generation.
For confectionery brands, it’s an absolute sin to miss out on marketing opportunities each time October rolls around. M&Ms used to be really on it when it came to Halloween, but they skipped 11 years before finally jumping back on the bandwagon and made a ghost-themed TV ad in 2018.
The ad tells an engaging story about Yellow and Red being glad they escaped a Halloween themed party without being eaten, only for Yellow to then realise he’s actually a ghost. The campaign delighted fans as they were minded why they’ve been into the brand for so many years.
For a lot of people, Halloween is just a reason to dress up. Barcadi caught that mood in 2018 with their #DressToBeFree ad campaign. The people featured in the video are not dressed up in any way related to Halloween. They do that not to fit in, but to be free. This is exactly like many people each Halloween that will have a skull in one hand and a cocktail made from Bacardi in the other.
Bacardi as a product has very little to do with Halloween. Their sales probably didn’t skyrocket following this campaign. But, what the company did do is show some of its target audience that they’re all on the same page. This is worth so much in today’s world where brands should be building meaningful relationships with consumers before trying to sell their products to them.
In 2017, Buffalo Wild Wings tapped right into understanding what their audience’s biggest fears were. Their 3-minute ad campaign featured a Florida Gators fan dressed up for Halloween in the colours of the Georgia Bulldogs, one of Florida’s biggest rivals.
During the video, Buffalo Wild Wings highlighted the key point that no matter what sport teams people support, they serve wings to everyone. By downloading and registering an account on the Blazin’ Rewards mobile app, customers could earn loyalty point when buying food at Buffalo Wild Wings and redeem them for discounts on future orders.
Budweiser Canada attempted to claim Halloween with their 2017 #JoinTheFearless campaign which they run in 17 countries where Halloween isn’t celebrated. By collaborating with Kehlani Paris to have their own Halloween anthem and hosting series of events, the brand aimed at bringing in as many new customers across the globe.
Product demonstrations have a tendency of feeling dry. But, LG found a way of reimagining the demo format in a captivating and thrilling testament of the quality of their products. During the first few seconds of the video, LG claims that their monitors have “lifelike colours”.
To cleverly prove it, they installed a grid of screen on the floor of a public lift and then filmed the response of riders when they saw the floor fall away from beneath their feet.
Since launching the campaign in 2012, the video has been viewed a staggering 49 million times, and there isn’t a single zombie in sight.
Do you think that retargeting is cool or flat out creepy? Well, you’re probably going to think it’s creepy after finding out about this campaign. Svedka Vodka basically used data to stalk online consumers.
Once consumers had watched the “Curse” video, they were then retargeted with an onslaught of banner ads. In order for them to break free of the so-called “Curse”, they would need to visit the Svedka Vodka website and share the content with their friends.
Creepy or outright disturbing? We’ll let you decide on this one.
Halloween has always been a special day for children. Skoda, however, decided to appeal to the child insider every adult with their 2017 “Awaken Your Inner Child” campaign. In the video, it shows a young boy carving a face into a pumpkin against the adult version of his self. Expect, many years later, he’s carving a face in a Skoda instead.
This may seem like a really simple campaign, but it’s a brilliant example of content that’s designed to appeal to multiple demographics.
This imaginative campaign by Birds Eye shows what would happen if meatless burgers were served to the indisputable king of Halloween; the bloodthirsty vampire. However, instead of scenes of absolute disgust, one of the vampires exclaims “whoops, I’m a bit veggie” before continuing to eat his meat-free burger.
The ad ends with the line “So, meaty, you’ll be surprised they’re not.”
In 2017, Krispy Creme announced that they were giving away free doughnuts on Halloween. The only thing customers needed to do in order to receive their #TreatCred was to go to a participating Krispy Kreme store wearing costumes. Simple, but an excellent way of drawing in new customers and making them aware of the leading doughnut brand.
The 2018 Spookermarket campaign by supermarket titans Tesco featured a TV ad that showed one of their stores where trolleys were moving on their own, employees scaring customers while they were doing their shopping. The background music they used for the TV ad was straight out of a horror movie too.
Even though this one of the spookiest Halloween marketing campaign in the past few years, it did have its moments of light-heartedness. This made it endearing for those who do their shopping at Tesco.
This wouldn’t be a blog about the best marketing campaigns of all time without including the creative marketers at Snickers. They’ve provided us all with some of the most captivating Halloween campaigns in recent memory. But, their most famous campaign of all was the Horseless Headsman (not a typo) from 2013.
With Halloween 2020 just around the corner and after revisiting the spooky yet really interesting marketing campaigns listed above, we just can’t wait to see what the big brands have in store this time around. One thing’s for sure; the campaigns can only keep getting better with each passing Halloween.
If you need some advice on an existing marketing campaign of yours or you would like guidance on creating a new campaign, Halloween themed or not, feel free to open the door to us, and we may, in turn, give you a treat.
Witch-ing you a spooktacular Halloween!