Halloween Marketing Ideas for a Spooktacular Campaign

From social media and video to promotional gifts and themed events, our guide provides examples of the top marketing strategies to try out this Halloween!

Posted by Alistair on 17.05.21

We’re big fans of Halloween here at Peek & Poke. And since we’re in the branded games and marketing business, it should come as no surprise that we’re also big on our Halloween marketing ideas.

Lucky for you, we’re here to share our favourite examples to help you get creative and achieve some monster ROI on your autumnal marketing efforts. Ready to jump in and see what we can find beneath the cobwebs? Witch, please. Of course you are.

Halloween spending trends

Just before we dive into our top Halloween promotion ideas, let’s first take a look at spending habits during this spooky time of year. While it’s true that our American friends have traditionally been the big spenders at Halloween, recent stats show that the UK market is really sinking its teeth into this season.

According to Statista, retail expenditure on Halloween products in the UK more than doubled between 2013 and 2019, rising from £230m to £474m. As research by Mintel shows, millennials (77%) and parents of under-fives (85%) are the key demographics behind this increased spending.

Impressive numbers, and great news for marketers. Now let’s look at what we can do about it.

Social media

In 2020, Halloween made a big splash on social media despite restrictions and lockdowns across the globe. The hashtag #Halloween2020 featured in over 963.7K posts, resulting in 5.5 billion impressions last October.

When it comes to ideas for Halloween, Mintel found that 40% of purchasers turn to social media for inspiration. Cleverly curated photos of your products in spooky arrangements can help influence those going online to get ideas for their own Halloween celebrations.

Beauty brand Soap and Glory made use of influencer photos and signposted to their own appropriate products to achieve these ghoulish looks.

User-generated content

As part of your social media campaigns, consider rewarding and sharing user-generated content (UGC) to encourage your audience to get involved. Why not try challenging your followers to send in/upload and tag their best Halloween snaps to be in with the chance of winning a brand prize?

These contests can be for best costume, best pet costume, best Halloween recipe made with your product, best pumpkin carvings etc. Photo comps are a great opportunity to connect with your audience and produce some great UGC, especially if you’re employing dedicated campaign hashtags so users can find you and each other easily.

Better yet, create an Instagram-worthy product that people go crazy for and they’ll promote it online for you. Starbucks do a great job of this with their Zombie Frappuccino, which fans just love to shout about – the #zombiefrappuccino hashtag has been used over 30,000 times!

Halloween interactive posts

If you’re new to the world of interactive posts, it’s time you got on board. This form of marketing encourages user participation and is highly engaging, with 93% of marketers agreeing that interactive content is effective in educating buyers.

There are many ways in which interactive content can be used to establish meaningful connections with an audience. One example comes from American Express Essentials, who created a fun quiz that helps people decide which Halloween costume they should wear. Once the results are in, the handy social media links allow participants to share their findings – remember that UGC we talked about?

Branded games

Also known as ‘gamified marketing’, branded games offer a cost-effective and versatile way of building engagement and creating lasting connections with your audience.

Games can support all aspects of your marketing strategy, from adding an interactive element to your standard emails and encouraging engagement on social media, to rewarding your target audience with prizes and promoting real-world purchases.

A great example comes from Burger King, who used a branded game to help promote sales of their special Halloween-edition burgers. Players could play the game within the Burger King app and unlock special themed levels by scanning codes on promotional burgers.

With the power to engage players for over 20 minutes on average, our online games are the perfect way to combine your own branding with spooky elements to match the Halloween spirit.  Take this Witchy Whizzer game, which will have players coming back for more while enabling you to drive traffic and capture qualified leads.

YouTube and online videos

YouTube and social media have made video adverts accessible to brands of all sizes and Halloween is a perfect time to get your witchy hats on and come up with some great visual content for your seasonal campaign.

Admittedly, the following example comes from a brand with a big ol’ budget. But Renault show how, with a little creative thinking, you can create great Halloween content even if your core offering isn’t especially spooky.

The brand made the active decision to focus on social media content for key consumer and calendar moments. As you can see, the example above is on theme, funny, and (most importantly) memorable.

Renault’s partner agency, Publicis, explained: “While we wanted to piggyback the Halloween wave and create something bold for Renault, we also needed to create something meaningful for the brand. We have shown Renault’s commitment to making the customer’s life easier by inviting the classic Halloween characters of zombies and vampires to act as consumers.”

Keep in mind that, in the lead-up to the big night on 31st October, there’s going to be lots of traffic from Halloween lovers looking for costume/make-up tutorials, jump scare videos, and other seasonal content – make the most of this with well-placed YouTube ads.

Halloween-themed web pages

How about putting a Halloween twist on your website’s appearance? From landing pages to banners and favicons, there are plenty of opportunities to create some blood-curdling online experiences.

A great example comes from Comfort Insurance, who created a landing page instructing site visitors on how best to zombie-proof their motorhome.

Remarketing (PPC)

Halloween is all about being scary, so why not dial up the remarketing creep factor in a way that’s going to really grab people’s attention?

As discussed earlier, a big spending market for Halloween is millennials and these folks spend a lot of time online. That’s ample opportunity to creep them out in the best way and stick in their minds by having your spooky themed banner ads stalk them as they surf.

Svedka Vodka absolutely nailed this in their 2017 ‘Banner Ad Curse’ campaign, which saw eerie banners following users around like a stalker and reminding them that their every move is being watched, measured, and weaponized for advertising. In an ode to The Ring, users could break the curse and free themselves from these creepers by visiting the brand website and sharing the cursed articles, passing the stalker ads on to their friends and family.

Sharing clickbait. Evil.

Product packaging

You only need to walk into any supermarket to see aisles overflowing with themed packaging. These package revamps help capture the attention of shoppers, promoting impulse purchases within limited seasonal timeframes.

If you consider that 56% of those surveyed by Mintel said they’ll be taking part in Halloween-themed activities, many of those consumers will be on the look-out for seasonal products to use at their parties and events so timely packaging can put your product in the running.

This works even if your product isn’t traditional party fare. Take this brilliant example from Marmite:

Halloween-themed promotional gifts

In addition to promotional packaging, consider offering some spooky treats to encourage and reward purchases. These can be things that shoppers will want in the lead-up to Halloween, so get thinking along the lines of themed costume accessories or decorations.

The great thing about free promo items is that they can result in some great online interaction. A perfect example was when Guinness offered free creepy shadow coasters with every pint of Guinness bought in local pubs. This resulted in great user-generated content from drinkers sharing their snaps of the coasters in action across social media.

TV ads

Although YouTube is more accessible, it seems that TV is still king in terms of ads leaving lasting impressions on viewers. According to a study on 19-32 year olds by the University of Bern in 2019, TV advertising has a stronger immediate impact on the recipient than YouTube advertising, leading to more attention and more positive emotions.

M&M’s are no strangers to the Halloween treat bucket, but 2018 saw them run their first television advert in 11 years. Featuring their lovable Red and Yellow characters, the ad reminds us that not all sweets make it out of Halloween alive!

Physical site decorations

It goes without saying that Covid-19 hasn’t been great for brick-and-mortar businesses. However, with a cautious optimism in the air that things may soon return to normal, 2021 could be the year that you once again have the opportunity to decorate your physical space with all things Halloween.

As we mentioned earlier, millennials and Gen Z form part of the key spending demographic around Halloween and they’re also the ones that will be seeking out sharable experiences from their retail outings. Many outlets are already pandering to this audience, with Instagram-worthy or ‘grammable’ on-site experiences for their customers to enjoy.  

The best part? You don’t need to go as big as Topshop did in 2017 when they converted their flagship store into the Upside Down from Stranger Things (though going big never hurts in our opinion). Check out the example below from Tesco’s Spookermarket:

Physical events

If you don’t have a store to decorate – and there are no longer restrictions in place – you can always rent a space and throw a spooky party filled to the rafters with bats, boogeymen, and brand activations! There are loads of great examples of brands doing this in the past.

Tennent’s Lager had their 666 Night Bus ferrying petrified passengers between promotional pubs whilst entertaining them on board with comedians and costumed actors. Mobile phone provider giffgaff partnered with a nail salon in Soho to offer Halloween makeovers to the public before they went on their night of revelry, and hosted a ‘Nail Rave’ in the salon basement.

Meanwhile, Hulu launched their ‘Huluween’ campaign with a real-life spooky drive-in experience, whereby attendees had to navigate a haunted forest before parking up to watch horror originals.

You don’t need to go as big as all that and you can tailor the level of scary to the age of your target audience. Remember, the parents of under-fives are some of the biggest spenders around Halloween – try a family-friendly approach with face painters, light-hearted scares, and lots of sweets!

Online events

If physical events are out of the question, the online realm still offers up a lot of opportunity to get creative.

In 2020, Walmart decided to extend its virtual summer ‘camp’ into the Halloween season, with online games and activities for the whole family to enjoy. The series included craft tutorials, an interactive choose-your-own-adventure Halloween game, and a video guide to throwing a monster-themed party.

Epic Games also went big with their Fortnitemares 2020 event, which included an after-party concert with Colombian superstar J Balvin. Not only was this great fun for everyone involved, it also encouraged people to stay indoors instead of going trick-or-treating – a welcome initiative at the time.

Bringing these Halloween marketing ideas together

Of course, depending on your budget, you could offer the full gamut of Halloween tips highlighted here. Think social media, offline strategies, and event marketing rolled into one devilishly delightful experience-based extravaganza!

In 2018, Fanta nailed this with a £3m multi-channel campaign ranging across new product lines, Halloween-inspired packaging, Snapchat filters, influencer campaigns, and experiential Twisted Carnival festivals at four sites in the UK. As Marketing Manager Rosalind Brown stated, “Fanta is to Halloween what Coca-Cola is to Christmas”.

If you found this post useful and would like more marketing tips and tricks in future, you can keep in touch through our newsletter. Otherwise, have a spooktacular season and best of luck with your campaigns! 🎃

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