Happy Halloween... 8 Marketing Campaigns That Even Creeped Us Out

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

Halloween has arrived - and we must celebrate! Out of appreciation for this spooky holiday, we thought we would share some of the scariest digital campaigns we’ve seen so far. This should hold you over until you’re ready to leave work and do some trick-or-treating of your own!

Before we get started with some of our favorite creepy, chilling Halloween campaigns, let’s talk about why these campaigns tend to do so well. Is it the fact that Halloween is a billion-dollar holiday, with 2015 numbers expected to reach nearly $7 billion? Or perhaps it’s because it’s one of the few holidays that the majority of people celebrate in one way or another. Between Halloween costumes, pumpkins, decorations and candy, there’s money-makers at every corner.

Whatever makes Halloween such a big spending day, we can say for certain that the foundation for generating revenue is already there. People want to be entertained. They want to be put into the Halloween spirit. They are waiting for spooky campaigns to excite them. What drove you to read this post after all?

OK, time to get started. Here are some of the scariest marketing campaigns of all time.

Sprint LG - So Real, It’s Scary

Sprint LG released a video back in 2012 to show how lifelike their new IPS screens looked. And boy did the video scare the pants right off some. Lifelike images were shown on the floor of the elevator to create an optical illusion that looked like the floor was breaking into pieces. Elevator riders thought they were about to fall to their deaths. Mean? Perhaps. We like to call it spooky fun. Either way, the video generated 22 million views on YouTube alone and tons of laughs.

Progressive - Dress Like Flo

Everyone loves Flo. She’s corny, she’s funny, she’s sweet. Now people can dress just like her, too. Progressive’s Dress Like Flo campaign takes things to a new level, and it’s brilliant. Rather than just creating a marketing campaign that is seen on TV, they invite people to look just like Flo for Halloween. People can even download the Progressive logo, name tag and button.

Phones 4U - Ghost and Little Girl

Yikes. This one even had us scared. And that’s hard to do. We all know that empty car garages in the dead of night aren’t the places to be, but this ad brings things to a whole new level with an eerie little girl that keeps popping up. It definitely works up a few scares, which is the point: don’t end up in a phone contract that gives you nightmares.

Benjamin Moore - Scariest Job in the World

Who ever thought that painting could be a scary job? Tedious and boring, maybe. But scary? Yet thanks to Benjamin Moore - whose new paint line did a “scary good job, scary fast” certainly gave us some fresh perspective. Benjamin Moore invited painters into an old hotel where they encountered some pretty scary stuff. Best of all, it was caught on camera for our enjoyment.

Snickers - Headless Horseman

Snickers was super creative with their Headless Horseman campaign. They put a Halloween twist on their “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan. Something about it just felt...right. And funny.

Chipotle - Boorito

Chipotle found a way to give their brand some exposure while also celebrating the Halloween season. They launched a short #Boorito video encouraging people to dress up and visit their restaurant from 5 pm to close to score a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for just $3. Not only did customers get a great meal for cheap, but also the money helped support the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. This year, the Halloween spirit continues.

Tide - Stains Better Be Scared

Who ever thought that laundry detergent could be so amazingly funny? Back in 2013, Tide made a compilation of some of the scariest movies of all time using Vine videos - The Shining, Frankenstein, Carrie, The Poltergeist. And guess who starred in the scenes? Tide detergent of course! We’re sure plenty of stains were scared stainless that night.

Cheetos - Project TP

Forget the good old days when tp’ing someone’s house included a lot of work. Today people can simply digitally tp one’s home thanks to Cheetos. Project TP was launched in 2013 just in time for Halloween. And while the campaign wasn’t necessarily a keep-you-up-all-nighter, it did bring a lot of fun. Test it out yourself by visiting project-tp.com, typing in the location of any place and dropping some digital tp on it.

Thinking About Making Your Own Halloween Marketing Campaign?

If your marketing campaign could use something refreshing, consider incorporating a Halloween twist. No one is too old for the holiday, and people are just itching to get into the spirit. A few ideas include:

  • Loyalty program for a specified amount of time. Think of it as a test-run for a more complete loyalty program in the future. Or, double loyalty points during the holiday season.

  • Freebies with purchases. Offer a “mystery package” that is included with certain purchases based on cost or type.

  • Freshen up your website. Give your website a spooky edge with cobwebs, spiders and more. A few alterations can go a long way. Do the same for the winter holidays.

  • Market your holiday specials. Your customers may not know about your holiday campaigns. Use social media, email newsletters and Vine or YouTube videos to promote them.

  • Host a contest. Get people into the holiday spirit by hosting a contest. Invite them to do different things (dress up and snap a photo, take a quiz, submit a story, etc.) and then enter them into a contest or drawing.

If you ran a Halloween-themed marketing campaign this October, what was it like? How did it do?

About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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