The top 5 Halloween marketing campaigns that killed it

This year, Brits are planning to spend over £1-billion on Halloween, with over half of them (56%) intending to buy something for the spooky season. It’s no surprise that brands love launching Halloween marketing campaigns to try to get a piece of the (pumpkin) pie.

This year we’ve seen ads from brands like Ikea (Monsters Not Included), Beavertown (FlightMare) and Liquid Death (Steve-O from Jackass does his first supernatural stunt.

…You read that last one right. 

There have been hundreds of Halloween marketing campaigns over the years. Here are the top five we think killed it over the last decade or so.

LG So Scary It’s Real, 2012

LG engineers secretly installed a grid of its new IPS monitors onto the floor of a New York lift. The screens looked exactly like the usual lift floor so people had no idea. But once someone entered the lift, the lights went out and the screens changed to make it look like the floor was collapsing under their feet. To make it worse, LG hid speakers that played creaking sounds as the floor appeared to crumble away. 

Why we love it: LG proved how high-quality and lifelike its new screens are in a reactive, funny and completely out of the box way. The ad went viral with over 10-million views in just one week, bearing in mind this was in 2012! Sales went through the (lift) roof, increasing the market share of LG monitors by an average of 20%.

LG So Scary It’s Real video

Ford’s Car Wash Prank, 2014

Ford launched a Halloween video campaign where it tricked 30 unlucky strangers into driving their cars into a haunted car-wash in Detroit. Passengers thought they were on their way to a film test drive, before Ford told them to take a quick detour. When they parked up in the car wash, the lights went out and people dressed as monsters  jumped out to scare them and started beating up their car. 

Why we love it: A bit like the LG campaign, we love a prank. The ad went viral pretty much straight away and today, it’s had over 1.8-million YouTube views. The passengers either knew about the prank or were scarily good actors. Either way, the campaign made everyone laugh and is still remembered nine years later. 

Ford’s Spooky Halloween Car Wash Prank, 2014

Coke vs Pepsi, 2014

Pepsi rolled out a cheeky Halloween marketing stunt to get people talking by making fun of Coca-Cola. The iconic campaign centred around a Photoshopped image of a Pepsi can wearing a red Coca-Cola cape and captioned “We wish you a scary Halloween!” While this bit was funny in itself, the part that really killed it came later when a random Coca-Cola fan edited the caption to say “Everybody wants to be a hero!”.

Top 5 Halloween marketing campaigns
Pepsi’s original ad (left) vs Coke’s fan response (right)

Why we love it: Mocking competitors is risky but can be a brilliant way to drum up a buzz online. In this case, Pepsi changed ‘Coca Cola’ to ‘Cola Coca’, reducing the copyright risk and giving people even more to talk about. But the reason we really love it is because it exploded online due to a fan, not a huge marketing team or global agency with a large budget. This highlights perfectly the sheer power of real brand advocacy and audience loyalty. 

Burger King’s #ScaryClownNight, 2017

To increase sales and drive brand awareness, Burger King offered free meals to customers who came into their restaurants dressed as clowns. The campaign slogan, “Come as a Clown, Eat like a King”, not only threw shade at rival McDonalds, but piggybacked nicely on the launch of Steven King’s horror movie ‘IT’. 

Why we are lovin’ it: Burger King smashed a triple marketing whopper with this one. It was reactive to an international movie launch, Halloween and some good old fashioned tongue and cheek brand rivalry. The campaign achieved 2.1 billion impressions, over 1100 articles shared the #ScaryClownNight hashtag and global sales jumped by 15%. 

Burger King’s #ScaryClownNight

Svedka Vodka, Banner Ad Curse, 2017

Svedka Vodka launched a series of banner adverts promoting cocktail recipes. If you clicked on one, it treated you to a short and spooky video saying you’ve fallen under the Svedka curse, and their ads are going to follow you everywhere you go.

Then, Svedka started serving up retargeted ads of cocktails and creepy messages tailored to your vodka preferences, location and browsing habits. The only way to “break the curse” was to visit Svedka’s microsite and share blog posts like “Are Svedka Cocktails Part of the Curse?” with friends. When your friends clicked the links they too became ‘cursed’, so the cycle starts again. 

Why we love it: Svedka Vodka leveraged an opportunity to target and retarget its audience in a very unique and clever way. It plays on the fact that many people believe they are being ‘stalked’ when they see relevant ads, tapping into Halloween and taking a funny approach to data-driven marketing.

The Svedka Vodka Curse

While you might not fancy going out and pranking your customers this Halloween, you can take real inspiration from all of these campaigns. Video content, reactive and remarketing methods are super powerful ways to engage your audience. Be creative, take risks and don’t be afraid to be different – people love humour and brands they can relate to. 

A bit about Reckless
We’re an e-commerce digital marketing agency in Liverpool, Chester and Manchester. We help brands grow through paid media, SEO, online marketplaces, custom website builds and maintenance. If you need a hand get in touch, we’d love a chat

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    The biggest stuff Google did that changed marketing

    Can you remember a time before Google? For many, it’s unimaginable. A-Z maps helped us drive from one place to another and Ask Jeeves was our trusted, impeccably well-dressed, virtual butler with all of the answers. Without Google today, we’d (quite literally) be lost.

    For marketers, Google has changed the game entirely. It has been at the forefront since the start, shaping digital innovation and constantly upgrading to provide easy search experiences.

    To celebrate Google’s 25th birthday, here are our top 10 most iconic Google developments that have shaped digital marketing today.

    1998: Launch day

    Big things were happening in 1998. MP3 players were invented, DVDs were first sold and ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ debuted on our TV screens.

    But something even more significant happened on September 27th 1998 and it wasn’t just ‘Rollercoaster’ by B*Witched topping the UK charts. 

    Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students at Stanford University, launched a small company called ‘Backrub’. Fortunately, they later changed the name to ‘Google’ and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Fun fact: The name ‘Google’ is a play on ‘googol’ – the mathematical expression for the number 1, followed by 100 zeros.

    2000: Google AdWords is born

    When Google AdWords (now Google Ads) launched, brands could only promote text-based ads. No photos, no videos – they were solely keyword-based, hence ‘AdWords’. 

    Back then, advertisers had to pay a flat fee for every click, which caused lots of irrelevant clicks and wasted spend. That’s why in 2002, Google overcame this problem by introducing the cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model.

    Thankfully, AdWords has evolved since, and we can now use catchy images and videos to make campaigns more engaging. That’s why it rebranded to ‘Google Ads’ – it’s not only about words now, it’s about the ad creative too.

    Fun fact: The first Google AdWords customer was a company called ‘LiveMessage’. They paid £25 to advertise their customer service tool – a far cry from the multimillion-pound campaigns we see today.

    2001: J-LO invents Google Images

    Well, not quite. But Google Images did launch because there was a high demand for photos of J-LO in a green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys.

    In the first year, Google Image Search indexed 250 million images. By 2005, it grew to 1 billion, and by 2010, it had over 10 billion images.

    2002: Google Shopping begins

    Google Shopping, previously called ‘Froogle’, was initially a standalone search engine for finding product details, prices, and places to purchase them. In 2012, it joined Google’s main search platform and became Google Shopping as we now know today.

    Today, Google says that users shop across its platform over a billion times a day. Enough said on that one.

    2005: GA debuts

    The start of Google Analytics traces back to an American company called Urchin Software. Urchin had developed a pretty nifty web analytics tool which, Google being Google, saw the opportunity and snapped it up.

    Google announced its acquisition and subsequently launched a paid analytics tool called ‘Urchin on Demand’. It wasn’t until seven months later that Google made it free and rebranded it as Google Analytics.

    2005 was also the year that Google Maps launched. Game.Changer.

    2007: Google snaps up DoubleClick

    Google acquired DoubleClick, a leading company in the ad serving business, for $3.1 billion (around £2.5 million today).

    The search engine used DoubleClick’s technologies to deliver an enhanced user experience (UX) for brands and consumers. Better metrics, targeting and analysis quickly followed, allowing Google to serve more relevant display ads to consumers. 

    2015: Mobilegeddon

    Google made a big change to its search algorithm, giving priority to mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. This sent shockwaves through the digital community (hence ‘Mobilegeddon’). Websites that weren’t mobile friendly dropped in search rankings whereas those that were, climbed the ladder. 

    Fast forward to 2018 and Google officially implemented mobile-first indexing and ranking across the board. The moral of the story is mobile-friendly websites, always. 

    2019: Bert, Bert, Bert

    In late 2019, Google introduced the (deep breath) Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) algorithm update. This helped Google improve its understanding of the natural language used in search terms so it can serve more relevant results.

    Digital marketers quickly adopted their strategies to provide high-quality content that meets the user’s search intent. Keyword stuffing was more prominent back then, so this was Google’s way of saying ‘stop it’.

    2021: Experience is everything

    In June 2021, Google’s ‘Page Experience Update’ integrated Core Web Vitals (CWV) into its ranking algorithm. Google started assessing factors like load speeds, visual stability and crawlability, prioritising websites based on the quality of their UX.

    Honestly, this is why technical SEO and high performance infrastructure are super important today. They’re often overlooked, yet improving them can lead to quick search engine wins.

    2023: Last but certainly not least – Bard

    One of the biggest, more recent developments is the new AI-powered chatbot, Bard

    Where AI competitor ChatGBT has limited data up until 2021, Bard plans on pulling information straight from the web. It aims to be much more visual too, with the search giant planning on bringing Google Lens into the mix

    Over 60% of marketers are already leveraging AI, so it’ll be interesting to see what Bard has in store for the marketing mix.  

    So there you have it. 10 of Google’s most iconic marketing moments since inception back in the nineties. Without them, who knows where marketers would be today? Maybe we’d all still be relying on Jeeves.

    A bit about Reckless
    We’re an eCommerce digital marketing agency with offices in Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. We help brands grow through custom websites, bespoke software development, paid media, SEO and online marketplaces. If you need a hand taking your eCommerce brand to the next level, get in touch 👇

    Let’s talk