Happy Halloween! The day is officially upon us, and after a month of tricks, it’s time for some treats. (Although we’ll admit, the opportunity to call out companies does give us that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling…)
Creating a holiday-themed campaign takes some finesse. Of course brands want to get into the spirit of the the celebration, but there is a risk of coming off as corny, forced or self-serving. Still, the constraint of a holiday’s thematic elements is a fantastic way to get the creative juices flowing.
Here are some examples of stellar Halloween campaigns:
REI’s Zombie Survival Guide
There are so many things to love about REI: high quality products, a fantastic customer-oriented philosophy and practical, actionable tips for surviving the zombie apocalypse. (Find the full infographic here!)
This clever Halloween campaign is evergreen and fun. It gives the consumer an opportunity to get into the spirit of the season by imagining themselves as the grim-faced survivor of a dystopian landscape of the undead, while also highlighting the value of REI’s products. Win-win!
Bite Sized Horror from Skittles
Don’t watch this one with the lights off…
Skittles definitely has a competitive advantage this time of year. After all, for candy companies, Halloween must feel—well, it must feel like Christmas. However, instead of taking the opportunity to shove their product down our throats, Skittles, along with M&M’s, Snickers and Starburst, produced a series of two-minute horror shorts that are surprisingly unsettling for being so condensed.
Maybe it’s just an elaborate psychological trick to get us to stress-eat candy, but without one mention of their product, this comes off as a genuine effort to channel the thing we all love most about Halloween: getting the bejeezus scared out of us.
Topshop’s Stranger Things Pop-Up
U.K. fast fashion and American horror might not seem like the most intuitive fit, but Topshop pulled off a fantastic Halloween campaign when they partnered with Netflix’s Stranger Things to launch a clothing line and the show’s second season.
They created an impeccably detailed and immersive recreation of sets for fans to walk through in their flagship Oxford store. It was a fantastic way to draw in people walking on the streets, create a fun experience for fans and promote the partnership without coming off as contrived.
Hell, anything that makes retail fun? That’s what we call a holiday miracle.
…Now, for a Twist Ending
We know we said we were only highlighting positive marketing campaigns, but we have to call out U.K. household brand Asda, which tried to sell this “Mental Health Patient” costume:
Luckily, mental health charity Time to Change swooped in to save the day, launching a social media hashtag #MentalPatient, which encouraged people to share their #MentalPatient outfits. It helped destigmatize mental illness, showing that those who struggle were simply normal humans, and transformed Asda’s insensitive, shameful moment into an opportunity to share and connect (social media at its best!).
Bonus: the public pressure from the hashtag prompted Asda to pull the costume.
With that surprisingly heartwarming ending, have a safe holiday and stay vigilant out there—companies are always up to one ghoulish trick or another!
Photo credits: Shutterstock / VGstrockstudio