13 Brands Killing It For Halloween 2015

Which spir­it­ed brands bewitched con­sumers in 2015? We round up 13 of the best Hal­loween mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

VR and util­i­ty are in this year. Par­o­dies and elab­o­rate pranks are out. But 2015 may also be remem­bered for moments such as The Year of The Hor­ri­ble Head in a Jar, Night in the Cat­a­combs, #Green­Poop, Zom­bie Brain Dona­tion and/or Ghost Drones.

What a dif­fer­ence a year makes. This time last year, for exam­ple, Subway’s biggest prob­lem was a Hal­loween spot with flim­sy cos­tumes that many con­sumers deemed sex­ist (my, how Sub­way’s for­tunes have changed). What’s more, 2014’s Sexy Ebo­la cos­tume has been replaced by Cecil the Lion Killer. (And, if Play­boy has its way, Sexy Pope Fran­cis and Sexy Vladimir Putin.)

In addi­tion, thanks to wine app Vivi­no, the world now has a defin­i­tive guide to wine-can­dy pair­ings.

What an age to be alive! Do you know what else is alive?

2015 Hal­loween mar­ket­ing.

To wit: Video remains the dom­i­nant medi­um for fes­tive brands, but, like con­sumers turn­ing to Star Wars and DC Comics for cos­tume inspi­ra­tion, brands are into vir­tu­al real­i­ty and cus­tomer util­i­ty this year and seem to have soft­ened their pranks.

In the spir­it of Hal­loween, Momen­tol­ogy can­vassed the hol­i­day mar­ket­ing land­scape and has award­ed the most spir­it­ed brands its cov­et­ed 2015 Hal­loween Cam­paign Superla­tives.

The 13 win­ners fol­low.

1. Best Consumer Value-Add: Tesco

Tesco Spookermarket 3 Halloween 2015

Per BBH Lon­don, UK super­mar­ket chain Tesco has cre­at­ed a social cam­paign around a video, Spook­er­mar­ket, which had 1.3 mil­lion views just five days after it was post­ed.


In it, a Tesco loca­tion has been giv­en a “spooky makeover” and hid­den cam­eras cap­ture the reac­tions of unsus­pect­ing cus­tomers. View­ers are then dri­ven to four videos that demon­strate how con­sumers can achieve sim­i­lar tricks at home:

In a state­ment, BBH Lon­don said the effort was pro­duced by its in-house video pro­duc­tion stu­dio, Black Sheep Stu­dios, and was meant to “help cus­tomers enhance their Hal­loween cel­e­bra­tions eas­i­ly and con­ve­nient­ly, by serv­ing up enter­tain­ing con­tent and gen­uine­ly help­ful advice.”

2. Best Video Overall: Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut 1 Halloween 2015

Fol­low­ing on the heels of its wild­ly pop­u­lar Dan­gers of Self­ie Sticks PSA, which has 4.2 mil­lion views, Piz­za Hut once gain teamed up with video agency Share­abil­i­ty for a Hal­loween-themed video.

Hal­loween is one of our busiest days of year and we want­ed to rec­og­nize and cel­e­brate the peo­ple who go out of their way to make Hal­loween spe­cial,” said Jen­na Bromberg, head of dig­i­tal engage­ment at Piz­za Hut. “So we came up with the con­cept of the dos and don’ts for mak­ing Hal­loween excit­ing again.”

The video, How to Win at Hal­loween, even advo­cates con­sumers give out full-size piz­zas instead of can­dy.


The brand will be dis­trib­ut­ing clips on Twit­ter “for snack­able con­tent through­out the week,” Bromberg said.

Hal­loween is one of the brand’s five busiest days of the year — it is about 50 per­cent busier than an aver­age day, but will be mag­ni­fied in 2015 as Hal­loween falls on a Sat­ur­day, accord­ing to Doug Ter­fehr, senior direc­tor of pub­lic rela­tions at Piz­za Hut. He said the brand expects to sell 1.4 mil­lion piz­zas on Octo­ber 31.

3. Best Tie to Brand Ethos: Chipotle

Chipotle Boorito Halloween 2015

In an effort to focus on the “creepi­ness” of unnec­es­sary ingre­di­ents, quick ser­vice chain Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill has pro­duced a short film in con­junc­tion with New York-based stu­dio Piro, Unneces-scary, in which a cus­tomer enters a fic­ti­tious restau­rant, Cheapo­tle, where the brand said she “dis­cov­ers what Chipo­tle would be like if it served tra­di­tion­al fast food.”


Chipo­tle has also brought back its long­stand­ing Hal­loween fundrais­er, Boori­to, in which it offers $3 menu items to cus­tomers dressed in cos­tume on Hal­loween. This year, how­ev­er, to “show­case the sim­plic­i­ty of its ingre­di­ents,” Chipo­tle is ask­ing cus­tomers to add an unnec­es­sary ingre­di­ent to their cos­tumes to qual­i­fy for the offer. Pro­ceeds up to $1 mil­lion will ben­e­fit the Chipo­tle Cul­ti­vate Foun­da­tion.

This twist on the cos­tume guide­lines sup­ports the company’s larg­er vision of serv­ing only the high­est qual­i­ty ingre­di­ents ver­sus the com­plex array of unnec­es­sary addi­tives and preser­v­a­tives that are typ­i­cal­ly found in fast food,” a press release said.


4. Best Use of VR: Target

Retail­er Tar­get launched a vir­tu­al real­i­ty series on YouTube, The House on Hal­low Hill, which allows con­sumers to “use their smart­phones to explore its many cob­webbed rooms with 360 degrees of action made vis­i­ble by tilt­ing and angling the phone’s screen like a lens,” the brand said in a press release.

In the ini­tial video, which is shot from the viewer’s per­spec­tive, a raven swoops in and absconds with the viewer’s phone. The view­er is then encour­aged to go inside the man­sion to get it back. From there, view­ers choose from among avail­able rooms, includ­ing:


What’s more, the items fea­tured in each video are shop­pable. Con­sumers click the links fea­tured in the YouTube cards to go to curat­ed Target.com pages.

In addi­tion, Tar­get rolled out Treat­ster, or what it calls “the first social net­work designed exclu­sive­ly to help par­ents map out the ‘must-vis­it’ hous­es on each block for their trick-or-treaters.”

Target Treatster

Treat­ster crowd­sources infor­ma­tion from par­ents, who Tar­get says can up-vote the best trick-or-treat­ing spots by tag­ging their loca­tions as a “Treat” on their maps. The more “Treats” a loca­tion has, the larg­er its pump­kin will appear, “help­ing trick-or-treaters get the absolute most out of the big night,” Tar­get added.

5. Best Potential Scare: Airbnb

Airbnb Halloween 2015

Rental site Airbnb is offer­ing a night in the Cat­a­combs on Hal­loween, or what it calls the largest tomb in Paris, which it said “con­tains the remains of six mil­lion souls” and “guar­an­teed night­mares.”

In order to qual­i­fy, the brand is ask­ing inter­est­ed par­ties to explain why they think they are brave enough to sleep in the Cat­a­combs. Airbnb will choose one par­ty of two for the expe­ri­ence.

Accord­ing to the list­ing, the win­ner will be able to “quench your thirst for adven­ture in this sprawl­ing maze lit­tered with skulls and bones” and “then live an unusu­al culi­nary expe­ri­ence while lis­ten­ing to an under­ground pri­vate con­cert in a place of the most remark­able acoustics.”

Fur­ther, the list­ing notes, “Pets are not allowed. Any­way, there will already be a mon­ster under your bed,” and it advis­es, “Do not for­get your tooth­brush and paja­mas, espe­cial­ly if they glow in the dark.”

6. Best Unintentional Hashtag: Burger King

Burger King A1 Whopper Halloween 2015

Instead of red car­pet, Burg­er King is rolling out black buns for Hal­loween 2015 with its A.1. Hal­loween Whop­per “that has A.1. fla­vor baked in” and is “a burg­er unlike any oth­er in Amer­i­ca.”

Our U.S. guests have been extreme­ly curi­ous about the bun fla­vors they’ve seen intro­duced in Japan and oth­er coun­tries, so we saw the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring them an equal­ly unique expe­ri­ence,” said Chief Mar­ket­ing Offi­cer Eric Hirschhorn in a state­ment. “We tai­lored the fla­vor of the black bun to the Amer­i­can palate with A.1. sauce…it may look Japan­ese but it tastes like Amer­i­ca.”

On a relat­ed note, accord­ing to reports, con­sumers have tak­en to Twit­ter to com­plain this Hal­loween Whop­per also results in #Green­Poop, dri­ving a some­what pop­u­lar hash­tag and even inspir­ing a Hal­loween cos­tume for cou­ples.

7. Best Use of Nostalgia: General Mills

General Mills Blippar Halloween

Accord­ing to a blog post, Gen­er­al Mills has “cracked open the Hal­loween cere­al vault this year” and, thanks to a part­ner­ship with aug­ment­ed real­i­ty app Blip­par, has brought its Boo Berry, Count Choc­u­la and Franken Berry char­ac­ters to life on cere­al box­es.

Con­tent includes “phras­es of fear,” as well as vin­tage pack­ages and com­mer­cials from the ’70s and ’80s. Count Choc­u­la and Franken Berry debuted in March 1971 and Boo Berry fol­lowed in Octo­ber 1972. Gen­er­al Mills releas­es the cere­als every August and they are avail­able through Hal­loween.

The cere­al box has his­tor­i­cal­ly been a fun source of enter­tain­ment at the break­fast table and beyond,” said Emi­ly Daigle, asso­ciate mar­ket­ing man­ag­er, in a state­ment. “This year, we  are excit­ed about our part­ner­ship with Blip­par as it allows us to take a deep­er look at the Mon­sters’ past in such a mem­o­rable way.”

8. Best Zombie Implementation: Takis

Takis Brain Drive Halloween 2015

For its part, snack food brand Takis, which describes itself as “super intense rolled corn tor­tilla chips that come in crazy exot­ic fla­vors,” has asked its teen fans to “donate” their brains to zom­bies as a tie-in to its Takis Zom­bie fla­vor, or a lim­it­ed edi­tion spin on the habanero-cucum­ber fla­vor also known as Nitro.

In the Takis Brain Dri­ve video, a zom­bie asks view­ers to place their fin­gers on the screen in order to make a dona­tion, which then fin­ish­es with mes­sages like, “Adios Brain!”

In exchange for 1 mil­lion brain dona­tions, or views, as well as likes or shares, the brand said one fan will receive a crate of Takis Zom­bies per­son­al­ly deliv­ered by zom­bies. A crate con­tains approx­i­mate­ly 200 bags. As of Octo­ber 28, the Face­book video had 1.2 mil­lion views. “Last year, Takis cre­at­ed a video around the Zom­bie prod­uct, but the media push was min­i­mal,” said Ash­ley Brown, account direc­tor at ad agency Pereira & O’Dell. “So we want­ed to make a big­ger impact this year. And with the zom­bie cul­tur­al craze in full gear and fans’/consumers’ obses­sion to get their hands on it, the brand was inter­est­ed in a big­ger cam­paign idea.”

The prod­uct has been in the U.S. since 2006 and is increas­ing its dis­tri­b­u­tion.

9. Best Use of Drones: Cheetos

To cel­e­brate the return of its Chee­tos Bag of Bones snacks and to inspire con­sumers to look beyond stan­dard can­dy for Hal­loween, Chee­tos teamed up with restau­rant deliv­ery ser­vice Caviar to pro­duce three prank videos:


Hal­loween is noto­ri­ous­ly full of mis­chief, so nat­u­ral­ly the Chee­tos brand can’t wait to get in on the fun again this year,” said Pat O’Toole, direc­tor of mar­ket­ing at Frito-Lay North Amer­i­ca, in a state­ment. “We’re excit­ed to offer up an alter­na­tive treat dur­ing a time when most peo­ple are think­ing about sug­ar, sug­ar and more sug­ar – and, of course, new con­tent that cap­tures all the fun of scar­ing the pants off some­one.”

Chester has also launched Chester’s Pump­ki­na­tor, which invites fam­i­lies to design their own dig­i­tal jack-o-lantern.


10. Best Masks: Dos Equis

Once again, Dos Equis is invit­ing con­sumers to join its Most Inter­est­ing Man in the World in an inter­ac­tive Mas­quer­ade. Much like its 2014 Hal­loween effort, con­sumers enter into a vir­tu­al mas­quer­ade as The Most Inter­est­ing Man’s guest of hon­or, “encoun­ter­ing the unex­pect­ed and unusu­al.”


This year, how­ev­er, the expe­ri­ence is avail­able via Google Card­board and YouTube 360. In addi­tion, Dos Equis said brand­ed Google Card­board masks will be avail­able at bars, as well as via a ded­i­cat­ed microsite.

Putting on a mask offers the chance to reveal a more inter­est­ing side of your­self, and that’s exact­ly what we’re encour­ag­ing con­sumers to do this Hal­loween sea­son,” said Andrew Katz, vice pres­i­dent of Mar­ket­ing for Dos Equis, in a state­ment.

11. Best Pumpkins: Snickers

In its Hun­gry for Hal­loween? exe­cu­tion, pump­kin carv­er Jon Neill talks about his craft and how he cre­ates real­is­tic faces and the – wait for it – sat­is­fy­ing process he goes through with each pump­kin.

12. Best Literary Reference: Reese’s

The peanut-but­ter-and-choco­late can­dy brand teamed up with Com­e­dy Cen­tral for its Reese’s Peanut But­ter Cups Make It a Per­fect Hal­loween, which fea­tures the Head­less Horse­man relax­ing at home while try­ing to eat a peanut but­ter cup.

13. Best Punny Name: Starbucks

Starbucks Frappula Frappuccino Halloween 2015

Fol­low­ing on the heels of 2014’s green tea Franken Frap­puc­ci­no, cof­fee pow­er­house Star­bucks is rolling out what it calls “a fang-tas­tic new Star­bucks Frap­puc­ci­no blend­ed bev­er­age.”

Accord­ing to a press release, the vam­pire-inspired Frap­puc­ci­no, the Frap­pu­la Frap­puc­ci­no, is made with white choco­late sauce, milk, ice, mocha sauce, whipped cream and rasp­ber­ry syrup. U.S. stores will offer the Frap­pu­la Frap­puc­ci­no between Octo­ber 28 and 31 and stores in Cana­da from Octo­ber 28 to Novem­ber 1. It is also avail­able in Aus­tralia, Indone­sia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philip­pines, Tai­wan and Thai­land.

Which 2015 Hal­loween mar­ket­ing cam­paign is your over­all favorite?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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