Spooky sales, weird ales, and marketing trails. Halloween’s no longer just dedicated to little kids collecting enough sweets to open their own pick ‘n’ mix stalls. It’s stretched way beyond trick and treating.
These days it’s an actual holiday season. Ghoulish productions, haunting VR experiences, Dracula cupcakes – you name it. With a forecast spend set to hit £419m this year, brands can’t afford to be zombies.
Some of us feel nostalgic about our childhood Halloweens. We think about our first ever mummy costume made using the softest loo roll, or cutting eye holes in a bed sheet to become a ghost. (Sorry, Mum.)
Speaking of nostalgia, I must mention Halloween 2008; the time that my Mum gave apples and pears to the beady-eyed children on our doorstep. Suffice to say, I did not enjoy collecting eggshells from the porch that year.
Fast-forward to the present where the ever-increasing popularity of Halloween represents a need for escapism; giving us a way to forget about our deadlines, to forget about the economy, to forget about politics and world affairs – the real-life scary things.
It’s a chance for anyone to be anything; whether that’s Frankenstein’s monster, Freddy Krueger, or ruining the film Frozen for young children by dressing up as a ghoulish Elsa.
As one of the biggest retail occasions (outside of Christmas), marketers look beyond targeting just kids. It’s a holiday of mass opportunity. Brands that generate interest and buzz from their exciting campaigns and promotions will stick in shoppers’ minds come the biggest retail occasion in less than two months’ time. (I won’t drop the ‘C’ word again but I’m clearly talking about that event where – if you’re my age – the most exciting present you can expect is a pair of Family Guy socks.)
Though Halloween is the perfect way to get into a stronger position ahead of the ‘C’ word, it’s important to remember that what you do could also go against you. Weak efforts (like a single pumpkin displayed at store front with a faint outline of a face used by a fine marker pen) will be considered a lazy and boring attempt to capture the season. Let’s face it; no business wants to be regarded as the Homer Simpson of their market.
Going beyond dress-up and trick or treating
Campaigns can focus on providing a service as a way of creating brand awareness. Last year, Budweiser sponsored a Halloween party.
Weird Beard Brew Co adopted their own unique event this year with a tap takeover in branches of The Draft House.
Some scary badges I know. Go check them out!
(I haven’t been paid for this endorsment, although if you’re reading this Weird Beard Brew Co, you know where to find me.)
Last year Topshop crated a lot of buzz in their Oxford Street store last year by partnering with Stranger Things for a live gory production.
As someone who watches horror films from behind a blanket, I did not go to see it with my own eyes.
Full marks to Fanta and Snapchat for creativity this year. Every can bought, releases a scary Snapchat filter.
What a brilliant way to generate brand affinity and fun! I’d imagine the Fanta Lemon witch filter would be quite the sight, but hey, I might put that as the cover of my next blog.
Asian markets have also jumped on the ghoul train. Don’t be shocked if next year you find that your friend travelling in Thailand sends you some of Dracula’s finest cooked noodles.
So, this Halloween, don’t be an angel. Be a demon. Climb aboard the brand wagon and get involved in frights, lights and scary nights!
I’ll see you soon. Probably in-line for the latest flat screen TV on Black Friday.