Festivals are considered as a great time by advertisers to cash upon their creative ideas. Content calendars are drawn in advance, and brainstorming starts taking place months down the line in order to execute something special. In this age of social media amplification, the aim is not only to drive sales but also to create a campaign so cool that it can be picked up by social media channels and amplified for free, thus exponentially increasing the reach. And even though every brand wants to advertise during such times, thereby creating a sort of communication clutter, there are actually many good reasons to do so. People are usually in a jolly mood and more spendthrift during such times. In fact, it is said that with every passing year, people actually start researching earlier on special deals and gifts that they want to buy.
A Google Trend for the search term 'Halloween Gift'. Search trends show the importance of seasonality, and therefore indicate the right time to put out ads / communication. As we can see, Halloween searches starts picking up mid-September, & peak in late October every year.
Halloween is one such time of the year when brands have the license to let their ideas run wild; literally. For those like me who are not natives of the western countries, here’s how and why Halloween came into being. Over 2000 years ago, the Celts (people who lived in what we today know as Ireland and Scotland) celebrated Nov 1 as their New Year. It was considered the beginning of a dark, long period of winter, and was also a time when a lot of people died due to flu and other seasonal diseases. The Celts believed that this was a time when demon spirits came to the Earth to take away people, and hence they started burning bonfires and wearing costumes on the night before in order to ward off those evil spirits and appease the Celtic Gods. During the 8th century, Pope Gregory III commemorated Nov 1 as a day to honor All Saints, or All Hallow’s Mass, and eventually the connection led to the day being known as Halloween’s Day.
The day includes people dressing up like demons and ghosts, doing spooky makeovers of homes, and trick-or-treating. And in keeping up with the spirit of this day, brands have adopted the soul of this festival in order to come up with some very interesting marketing and ad campaigns. Let’s have a look at 5 such campaigns:
I am a lover of minimalist ads that are done right. In my opinion, minimalist ads may look simplistic but it actually takes a deep understanding of both the product and the audiences in order to come up with something that will exactly convey everything without saying anything explicitly. This M&M ad does the job by simply placing a product at the bottom, letting customers know what this is all about.
Pepsi & Coke
This is another one that I really like given how witty both the brand teams were. The Pepsi ad in itself was a pretty good one. It mocked how the prospect of having Coke is a scary one! But Coca Cola’s approach of simply re-using the same ad with just a copy change took their already existing rivalry to another level.
Nike - Run for your life
The hallmark of a great brand is to contextualize an event in order to perfectly suit its offerings. How this 2008 ad differs from the other Halloween ads is that Nike not only utilized the Halloween theme well, but also brought out Nike’s USP brilliantly. Most of the other brands just create good communication without really showcasing how their product is relevant in that situation.
Burger King - #ScaryClownNight
Burger King is known to target McDonald's ever so frequently. Just to give you some context, it came up crazy promotional idea where users had to use an augmented reality app to place their camera over McDonald's print ads and burn them in order to win free burgers. It even won a Cannes Lions! This Halloween ad was on similar lines, where they gave away free burgers to the first 500 people who came dressed as clowns to their outlets on Halloween. The cinematography, direction, and production on this one is really crisp. Also, it was successful in turning the clowns into scary characters, thereby giving out the message that going to McDonald's is a scary prospect!
Geico - Let's Hide Behind the Chainsaws
Full disclosure: I am a sucker for classic movie tropes and cliches, that's why this one makes it to my list. But I am sure that there are several film fanatics and trashy movie lovers like me who will find this funny. This 2014 commercial by Geico made fun of a very classic horror movie trope and drove home the point it intended to. Although it wasn't the best connection, I'd say the ad in itself was pretty good and the placement of Geico's 15% message comes at the right time for the viewers to retain it.
Halloween Statistics for Marketers
I wish I could say that I created this, but I merely picked it up from WalletHub. It's a year old, but conveys some very important statistics that marketers can draw inferences from in order to plan out their Halloween campaigns. Of course, it is too late to do so for this year, but I am sure the stats will hold as well for Halloween 2021.
Infographic Source: https://wallethub.com/blog/halloween-facts/25374