What’s your biggest fear? The most common one among entrepreneurs is the fear of failure (according to Entrepreneur, LinkedIn, and even UPS!). Fortunately, the best defense against failure is preparation. In this article, we’ll look at the Halloween marketing strategies from 5 different companies.
Each one has a lesson to teach us about digital marketing for small businesses. That way, you’re equipped to find the best tactic for building brand awareness among your target audience.
The 5 Best Halloween Marketing Ideas of the 21st Century
- Burger King: Scary Clown Night (2017)
- REI: 13 Essential Tools for Surviving a Zombie Outbreak (2014)
- Target: Partnering with Content Creators (2022)
- LG USA: So Real It’s Scary (2012)
- Airbnb: Halloween Night in Paris Catacombs (2015)
1. BURGER KING: SCARY CLOWN NIGHT (2017)
Competition can be scary, particularly when your sales impact your livelihood. So what could be better than humbling your competitors in a playful and on-theme way?
The Campaign: In 2017, Burger King enlisted a familiar-looking clown to introduce their Halloween special: Scary Clown Night. The popular fast food chain offered free hamburgers to anyone who showed up at participating locations while dressed as one of these popular Halloween characters (no requirement to refer to yourself as “Ronald”).
- Get into the spirit of the holiday. Fans of the season won’t be moved by weak attempts at marketing, so instead, focus on getting in on the fun. This campaign is perfect for Halloween because, according to one study, up to 53% of people are afraid of clowns.
- Remind your audience why you’re the ideal solution. We typically wouldn’t recommend that you reference your competitors in your marketing. After all, you should be able to express your value without comparing yourself to others. This ad cleverly positions Burger King as the ideal choice for customers who don’t want to eat with clowns on the other 364 nights of the year.
- Everybody loves freebies. There isn’t much else that motivates consumers like free goodies — and “free goodies” is what Halloween is all about.
You may not be able to hand out free samples of your products or services (and we’ll discuss demonstrations below), but offering something to your customers without commitment is a powerful motivator.
2. REI: 13 ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR SURVIVING A ZOMBIE OUTBREAK (2014)
As the popular sales adage goes: “People buy on emotion and justify on logic.” Few emotions compel us to action like fear, and purchasing decisions are no different.
From the fear of missing out to the fear of being unprepared, marketing today largely relies on positioning your product or service as a solution to a pain point. So, what scares your customers?
The Campaign: REI offers an expansive range of wilderness survival products. On their blog, they often provide tips for staying safe while exploring nature.
So how did they adapt this to the Halloween season? In 2014, they produced an infographic that educates consumers on the best gear and tactics for surviving a zombie outbreak.
The Lesson: Create a horror narrative around the pain points that your brand resolves.
Keep in mind, we’re not suggesting that you scare your customers into buying your product. Instead, as with the first entry on this list, our suggestion is to get into the holiday spirit.
Your product or service solves a problem, and it’s likely a problem that your customers worry about often. Therefore, you should create a Halloween marketing campaign that presents this concern as a horror story.
But keep it fun; think “scary campfire story,” not “traumatic body horror.”
3. TARGET: PARTNERING WITH CONTENT CREATORS (2022)
Successful marketing requires you to overcome all of the “noise” to speak directly to your customers. Sometimes, the best solution is the simplest one.
The Campaign: In 2022, Target partnered with popular content creators on TikTok. Together, they produced simple, unpolished videos that offered various ideas for using Target products to prepare for the holiday.
- Keep it simple. Organic content is easier to consume, and influencer marketing is often more palatable because it comes from someone your audience recognizes and respects. You don’t have to throw money at a big, elaborate production to attract attention.
- Prioritize offering value. One great thing about this campaign is that it offers value to the audience. Many fans of the holiday agonize over designing the perfect decorations or costume.
When content creators provide helpful ideas and tips, it positions you as a solution, rather than a product.
4. LG USA: SO REAL IT’S SCARY (2012)
The best Halloween marketing doesn’t simply paint a spooky facade over your usual talking points. Instead, it uses the holiday as an entry point for highlighting your branding, your solution, and your value.
The Campaign: This is one of our favorites! In their “So Real it’s Scary” campaign, LG found a clever way to highlight the main selling point of their IPS Monitor: its realistic display.
They replaced the floor of an elevator with the monitors, then tricked riders into believing that the floor panels were falling into the shaft below. They even added creaking sounds and “failing” lights to sell the effect.
The Lesson: In our opinion, this campaign gets everything right.
- They evoked fear in a fun, safe way.
- They used this fear (the spirit of the holiday) to demonstrate the benefits of their product.
- The resulting ads feel more like entertainment than marketing.
And we’re not the only ones who feel entertained. As of this writing, the video has over 53 million views on YouTube!
5. AIRBNB: HALLOWEEN NIGHT IN PARIS CATACOMBS (2015)
Would you spend Halloween night with 6 million skeletons?
The Campaign: In 2015, Airbnb held a contest in which the lucky(?) winners were awarded with a Halloween night that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. The “prize” included:
- Overnight accommodations in the Paris Catacombs (yep, the same ones that house the skeletal remains of over 6 million souls!).
- A “dazzling culinary experience” with a private concert.
- Scary stories presented by a storyteller right before bedtime.
At Hyport Digital, we believe that trying new things is essential to improving ourselves. But…yeah, we probably wouldn’t sign up for this.
The Lesson: On-theme exclusivity.
Consumers love exclusivity. It results in an experience that is memorable, fun to share, and hard for others to compete with.
You may not be able to rent out the Paris Catacombs, but there are likely other ways that you could offer exclusive benefits to your customers.
Just remember to stay on brand and on theme. Airbnb provides rental accommodations, so the prize for the contest was an overnight stay at a memorable location. And Halloween is about fear, so they chose a location that’s appropriately frightening.
What Halloween experience could you offer to your target audience that nobody else can provide?
HOLIDAYS ARE PERSONAL, CELEBRATE WITH PERSONALITY
List articles are fun and informative, but there’s one thing they can’t tell you: the best way for you to engage with your unique customers. Some key takeaways:
- Don’t use Halloween as an excuse for themed marketing. Instead, share your personality and speak directly to your audience.
- To do that, find clever ways to evoke the spirit of the holiday. For example, consider the pain points that your brand resolves, and position life without your solution as a horror story.
- Above all else, offer value. Whether you aim to inform or entertain, prioritize your audience over your sales goals. Consider: how often are you moved by messaging that does little more than beg for your money?
If you’re still coming up blank, then let Hyport Digital help. Our team of digital marketing experts don’t advertise, they engage.
To determine the best strategy for forming long-term and rewarding relationships with your target audience, contact us today!