Gather around boils, ghouls and monsters of all kinds because today is the most wonderful time of the year; Halloween (I am almost certain that’s what that phrase refers to).
Halloween is a frightfully fun time for everyone: kids are putting on costumes to go out and get free candy, and adults are putting on costumes to go out and embarrass their kids (when did Starsky and Hutch stop being a cool couple’s costume?)
Of course, it’s not just kids (and their parents) who like to have a good time on All Hallow’s Eve; brands also want to get in on the fun.
The month of October is the perfect time for corporations to pick up a pair of plastic vampire fangs and really sink their teeth into some wacky, whimsical and weird marketing. After all, Halloween isn’t just for people; all are welcome at the Monster Mash.
In 2022 some of our favourite brands definitely proved they could Mash with the best of them. Check out these five terrifically terrifying Halloween marketing campaigns.
What is Halloween, and why do we celebrate it?
Everyone knows what Halloween is, of course. Annually on October 31st, everyone dresses up in costumes, carves scary faces into pumpkins and watches horror movies.
Kids go out trick or treating, going door to door and getting candy and adults either go out and party or stay home and eat their kid’s candy.
We all participate in these rituals every year—the candy, the jack-o-lanterns, the costumes—but do you know why we do all these things? Where did these traditions come from?
Like many modern traditions, the holiday we know now as Halloween has a few origins, as does each Halloween tradition. The holiday itself has two main origins, the Celtic celebration Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) and the Christian holiday called the Feast of All Saints, or All Hallows’ Day.
Samhain was celebrated at the end of the harvest season to usher in the next half of the year. During this time, the veil between our world and the next was considered to be especially thin.
To protect themselves from otherworldly monsters, people would dress up in costumes as animals or monsters themselves and put out treats and offerings to be left in peace.
Similar to Samhain, All Hallows’ Day was celebrated around the same time of year, with festivities leading up to and ending on November 1st. The night before was referred to as All Hallow’s Eve, and over the years became a similar celebration of dress up and feasts.
The traditions, and the celebrations themselves, have evolved over the years to become the Halloween we know and love today.
For example, did you know that the first jack-o-lanterns (not necessarily associated with either holiday at first) were probably turnips? And Trick or treating has a few origins, although the term may be less than 100 years old.
Pumpkin Season Marketing Campaigns That are Delightfully Goulish
Heinz Ketchup’s Vegetarian Vampire
First debuted in 2021, Kraft Heinz has brought back Tomato Blood Ketchup. This limited edition Halloween tie-in features a redesigned bottle with a bloody appearance. As part of the marketing campaign to promote Tomtoto Blood, Heinz partnered with TikTok influencer E.J. Marcus.
Marcus was featured in a promotional ad rolled out on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The ad initially debuted on AMC at the beginning of October, ahead of the premiere of AMC’s Interview With The Vampire reboot.
In the ad, a vegetarian vampire named Toby enjoys Tomato Blood ketchup over drinking human blood (much to the confusion of his fellow, more traditional vampires). Check out the full video on YouTube.
Chipotle’s BooReal Boorito
Chipotle brought back the Boorito to restaurants after being unable to run the promotion as usual for the last few years. The popular Mexican-style chain has been running this Halloween promotion for years but had to find a new way to do things at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of offering in-restaurant deals, Chipotle took the promo digital to account for the restricted in-restaurant dining options.
But now the Boorito is back in person! Throughout the US, customers can receive a free entree when they show up at Chipotle restaurants on Halloween sporting a costume.
Additionally, Chipotle is keeping a digital element by partnering with the social media app, BeReal, which prompts users to post a picture once per day. As part of the promo, users that post their BeReal on Halloween, in costume at a Chipotle, can enter the BooReal sweepstakes with a chance of winning free burritos for a year.
Snapchat’s AR Halloween Costumes
SnapChat has collaborated with Disguise Costumes to bring users a new way to try on and purchase Halloween costumes. The promotion began on October 11th and allowed users to search Disguise Costume’s entire selection of Halloween attire.
Not only could they then “try on” the costumes using SnapChats AR, and if they liked what they saw, users had the option actually to purchase the outfit directly through the app.
Customers could choose from a variety of popular streaming shows and movies, such as Stranger Things or Squid Game, as well as older nostalgic options, such as Hocus Pocus and old Disney favourites.
Cheetos Metaverse Mischief
Wander into Chesterville and cause trouble this Halloween! Like many brands, Cheetos is beginning to capitalize on the Metaverse by creating it’s own virtual neighbourhood on the platform.
As part of its Halloween promotion, Cheetos is providing users with the chance to explore the digital Chesterville neighbourhood and complete tasks. Every time a task is completed, they will receive points towards filling up their “mischief meter.” The ultimate goal?
Fill up the meter to gain access to Chesterville’s scary mansion and vote to “resurrect” a once-popular Cheetos flavour that’s no longer available. The flavour with the most votes will be brought back for a limited run.
Curious about the costume trends in your area? Google has you covered! By bringing back its popular “Freightgiest” mini-site, Google allowed users to explore the most popular costumes in the United States.
Users can search through the rankings of seemingly endless costume ideas to see where their ideas rank in terms of trendiness or take a look at the region-specific map to see which costumes are most popular in different locations.
Anyone having a hard time deciding which costume to wear could play with the “costume wizard.”
Users could drag around a few sliders depending on how scary or unique they wanted their costume to be, and receive suggestions for costumes that were classic or modern.
The Final Twist of the Knife
Although Halloween is considered a time of frightening monsters and terrifying ghouls, it’s also always one of the most fun times of the year.
No other holiday (aside from perhaps April Fools) allows people of all ages to let loose and engage in some silly, funny and scary behaviour. And though it may not pull the same numbers as Christmas in terms of spending, marketers know not to discount the value of a well-planned Halloween campaign.
In fact, between candy and costumes, consumers are spending more on Halloween than ever before, making Halloween a lucrative (and fun) holiday for marketers and brands alike to promote.
Do you have any fun Halloween marketing campaigns you want to mention, either from this or previous years? Let us know in the comment section below!