5 Halloween Marketing Treats from Big Brands

Whether you absolutely love or utterly despise the most wicked of holidays, there’s no denying that Halloween is a marketing goldmine of epic proportions. Americans alone are estimated to spend over $9 billion this year—including an estimated $25 per household on Halloween candy. That’s a lot of Skittles!

With all that sweet bank for the taking, it makes sense so many brands want to get in on the action by experimenting with hauntingly bizarre and shockingly creative ad campaigns. While Halloween isn’t everyone’s cup of blood-curdling screams, it does demand a little respect.

Want proof? Check out these creeptastically effective Halloween marketing efforts we found lurking below the surface…

Five Examples of Marketing Efforts Designed to Inspire Action via Fright

Whether you’re engaging existing customers, knocking a competitor, or training your employees, using an eerie tone based on well-established horror tropes can provide a memorable brand experience. Here are some examples:

Mars Bite Size Horror

1. Mars Candy Slays Viewers with Halloween Short Films

Sometimes just giving people the chills is enough to get them talking and sharing your content. That was the method employed by Mars Candy (the umbrella brand behind M&Ms, Starburst, Snickers and many more) with this series of two-minute Halloween ads that don’t so much sell a product as they do just tell a good short-story-style horror yarn.

Curse of the Kleenex

2. Kleenex Commercial Becomes an Urban Legend

Here we have a case of accidental marketing that still provides a solid example of garnering buzz via fright. This 1986 Japanese Kleenex commercial was not intended to scare anyone, but it was unintentionally strange enough that some dark rumors started circulating about it. The result? We’re still talking about it more than 30 years later.

Burger King Scary Clown Night

3. Burger King Digs Into the Dark Side of Clowns

What do you do when your biggest competitor has the most famous fast-food mascot in the world? You paint him as a villain. With their #ScaryClownNight marketing effort, Burger King frames clowns as a creepy Halloween creatures akin to vampires, witches and zombies. Sorry, Ronald, but these days clowns create more tears than smiles.

Kelty Campfire Contest

4. Kelty Stalks Customers for Scary Campfire Tales

The outdoor brand used a tried-and-true marketing tool—the contest—to unearth scary stories typically told around the campfire by its customers. With a strong, brand-appropriate theme, this contest sparked customer engagement while also hitting on the fun and spooky aspects people love about the Halloween season.

KFC VR Horror Game

5. KFC’s Terrifying Virtual Reality Training Experience

This one is a training effort rather than a marketing effort, but it definitely fits the Halloween theme. The brand formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken created a virtual reality horror game to teach new employees how to prepare their famous fried chicken. As KFC explains it: “Blending virtual reality with real reality, KFC is using VR technology to demonstrate how to make Original Recipe fried chicken in an entirely unique, hands-on and modern way.”