As we get closer to the spooky season, we’re taking a look at some of the best Halloween campaigns of all time.
Although Halloween is thought to be more popular with our friends across the pond in America, Brits are spending increasing amounts of money on celebrating the big day.
The day brings with it huge opportunities for businesses to drive sales throughout the month of October, with brands of all sizes and industries tapping creating spooktacular Halloween marketing campaigns to connect with consumers. We’ll be taking a look at some of our favourites from over the years.
A quarter of the population were estimated to buy pumpkins last year, equating to almost £30million in sales on pumpkins alone. In 2019, pre-pandemic, total spending on halloween equated to a whopping £474million, which is almost double what was spent back in 2013!
Although many expected lockdown 2.0 to put a damper on Halloween 2020, research showed that in fact people were getting creative when coming up with ways to celebrate the day safely in their own homes.
From costumes and party decorations, to crafts and confectionery, the British public were finding any excuse to celebrate and really got into the spirit of All Hallows Eve. Pinterest reported that searches for at-home Halloween games were up ten times the previous year, and costumes with masks up a staggering 27 times compared to 2019.
With this year’s Halloween free of any restrictions (so far), it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a real (trick or) treat! Here are some of our favourite Halloween marketing campaigns to help get you in the spooky mood.
Our favourite campaign from last year has to be from the global online fashion brand, ASOS, who expanded their marketing efforts to include TikTok after the platform saw rapid growth amongst their target market, especially within the UK.
By using a network of influencers on the app, the campaign saw creators showcase their spooky looks on the For You Pages of both their followers and those interested in fashion. The trend saw TikTokers transition from casual day outfits to frightening evening looks using a custom made sound clip.
With the pandemic preventing us from hosting any large scale Halloween parties, lockdown rules still allowed for small groups to meet up at that point before going into stricter rules post-October.
High street retailer and party food pros, Marks and Spencer, created a range of devilishly delicious food and drink options for people to enjoy at home. The innovative range caused a real stir both on social media and in the press, securing 25 pieces of coverage across multiple national and regional publications including The Sun, The Daily Express, The Chronicle Live and Manchester Evening News.
From their eerie eyeball pizza and beastly bangers to petrifying pineapple punch and even a creepy Colin the Caterpillar cake, their combination of pre-made food and recipe ideas to make at home meant everyone could still enjoy a boo-tiful spread.
Our favourite had to be the Yummy Mummy Yumnuts - a yumyum doughnut hybrid - layered with icing and googley eyes. They were simply eerie-sistible!
Marmite: Trick or Treat
Back in 2018, Marmite released two limited edition jars - one for the lovers of the yeast-based spread, and the other for the haters - exclusively online. The campaign caused a huge stir on social media, receiving over 3,000 likes on Facebook alone, with fans rushing to the website to get their hands on a jar. This Halloween campaign was such a success, that Marmite have continued to release the jars every October since, though they are now also available to purchase in store at Sainsbury’s, meaning even more marmite fans can get their fix.
Offering online exclusives and using social media to promote them is a great way to drive traffic directly to your site. We’re seeing more and more brands - both big and small - moving into the Direct to Consumer space. Check out our ultimate social media guide for Shopify site owners for more tips on driving traffic to your site and boosting sales.
Burger King: #ScaryClownNight
The global burger chain taunted fast food rival brand McDonalds back in 2017 by offering their signature Whopper burger to the first 500 people dressed as a creepy clown (inspired by Macdonald’s mascot) at selected sites. Coinciding with the film release of Stephen King’s It, and with the tagline, “Come as a clown, eat as a king,” the cultural relevance and timing of the ad was spot on.
The back and forth between the fast food chains always generates quite the buzz on social media, and the incentive of free food is almost always guaranteed to get customers involved. This is a great example of a digital PR campaign in which the original social posts gathered enough attention on social media to gain press interest. The campaign achieved 2.1 billion earned impressions and went global, resulting in #ScaryClownNight getting mentioned in more than 1100 articles in 40 countries.
Netflix and Chills
Each year the global streaming service puts a spooky spin on the common phrase associated with the brand, creating an infographic to share on their social media to help viewers pick which scary film to watch based on how scared they want to be, updating it with the latest horror film releases.
Each film is ranked on their level of how realistic, terrifying, enchanting and supernatural they were, with titles including The Haunting of Hill House, The Conjuring and cult classic, The Shining, setting viewers up for a month-long fright fest. To help subscribers decide which films to add to their scary movie binge list, they are encouraged to take part in a quiz which would navigate the options and generate their ideal horror film fest line up.
To date, #NetflixandChills appears on almost 8,000 instagram posts and almost 600,000 views on TikTok.
Fanta: a fangtastic snapchat collaboration
Fanta cans and bottles received a creepy but creative makeover for Halloween back in 2018, featuring graphics of vampires, witches and other devilish designs to mark the occasion. Each can and bottle also contained a unique QR code which unlocked a range of spooky snapchat filters which changed daily, encouraging customers to repeat purchase the product and share their spine-chilling creations with their social circles.
Fanta’s Halloween campaign has become one of the most successful ever brand activations on Snapchat. Ads of the World reported that a highly engaged teen audience of 25 million unique users interacted with the campaign, generating over 137 million impressions. More than 1.14 million on-pack Snapcodes were unlocked with the average engagement rate from swipe to use up at 37%.
Additionally, Fanta also added two Halloween-inspired flavours to their range - blood orange and pink grapefruit - which went down well with customers. So much so that in 2019 they also added a limited edition black version of the blood orange, catering to those who really like to get their ghoul on around the holiday, which they continue to sell exclusively to Asda each year.
Back in 2015, the supermarket chain got into the spirit of Halloween and played a few tricks on some of their customers using hidden cameras and creepy costumes.
From skeletons jumping out behind the meat counter and trollies with a mind of their own, to a pumpkin display that would scare unsuspecting passers by, staff managed to get a fair few screams out of their customers.
The Halloween campaign has racked up over 1.3million views on youtube to this day, and did a great job at promoting their instore offers. The following year, Tesco were up to their old tricks again, but this time taking the spookermarket directly to the customers, promoting their delivery service as the one stop shop for everything families need for a fangtastic Halloween, which again went down a (trick or) treat with viewers, receiving almost 1.4million views on Youtube alone. This is a great example of taking the principles of surprise and delighting customers to a whole new level!
Skittles: Rotten Zombie Flavour Roulette
With trick or treating a huge part of the Halloween season, it’s no surprise to see confectionary brands coming up with terrifyingly tasty products for people to hand out. In 2019, the sweet brand Skittles, whose tagline is ‘Taste the Rainbow,’ launched a limited edition run of Zombie skittles.
With freaky flavours such as Mummified Melon and Blood Red Berry, each pack was also laced with a repulsive Rotten Zombie flavour, meaning it was a russian roulette on whether you’d get a delicious or disgusting skittle.
The brand used influencer marketing to become a viral sensation, with followers rushing out to try their luck and see just how gross the Zombie flavour was. This sparked a vast number of taste tests and product reviews, causing the #DareTheRainbow challenge to be used around the globe and was such a success that Skittles brought it back for 2020 resulting in another 1.4 million impressions across social media. This viral challenge type of marketing helps to drive buzz around new products, and is a great way to get people buying and talking about your latest launch.
Made by Extreme
Brands of all sizes and across all industries can tap into the opportunities Halloween presents, it's all about being creative and knowing your audience. Back in October 2020, we launched the first Instagram filter for dogs with pet food brand, Harringtons. With a small budget and only a little promotion behind it, the filter was used over 10,000 times and attracted the attention of regional press.
Do you need help with creating your next marketing campaign?
Whether she's creating some incredible blog content or identifying another awesome PR opportunity, Nuala is always looking for ways to grow our clients' brand awareness. With a degree in marketing from Sheffield Hallam, Nuala joined team Extreme as a Marketing Executive, then making her home in the PR and Content team.