Top 5 Halloween marketing campaigns

By Leanne Bates, Marketing Manager at Reckless.

5 minute read

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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