Halloween 2014 is not only the Halloween of the sexy Ebola costume, it is also the Halloween of branded video with parodies (particularly of “The Shining”) and pranks aplenty as marketers attempt to capture consumers’ attention on this scariest of holidays. In fact, brands went for scares in a big way this year. They were also big on Vines and Instagram – including tap integration – as well as choose-your-own adventure-type experiences and virtual trick-or-treating. Multiple brands offered coupons as incentives and a few offered tips, although some made more sense than others.
Here’s our roundup of the most memorable Halloween digital marketing campaigns of 2014.
The Halloween Parodies
First up is Ikea Singapore’s take on “The Shining“, which, as of October 30, has nearly 4 million views. It pays “homage to Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic” while it also communicates that its stores are open until 11 p.m. (In addition, Ikea Singapore asks fans to take screen shots of hidden products for a chance to win gift cards.)
Next is Snickers, which parodies The Exorcist in a Spanish-language video, Twisted, which is also part of its “You’re not you when you’re hungry”-series. The video has so far netted about 45,000 views.
For its part, meat snack brand Slim Jim calls itself “the Killer Snack of Halloween,” releasing a series of images and videos that also parody scary movies, including “Paranormal Activity“, “Scary Movie“, “The Silence of the Lambs“, “Nightmare on Elm Street“, “The Shining“, and “Texas Chain Saw Massacre“.
Even Internet Explorer has gotten in on the parody action with a “Psycho”-themed Vine promoting IE11.
Other brands have gone to great lengths to scare consumers this Halloween with elaborate pranks.
In its Haunted Open House, residential real estate website Trulia booby-trapped a home and then scared the bejesus out of unsuspecting house hunters who stopped by during an open house. This is in the name of driving home Trulia’s message that it provides “Home searching so easy, it’s kinda scary.” The video has generated about 29,000 views.
Not to be outdone, Ford put together a Spooky Car Wash Prank in which it asked 30 consumers to stop by a car wash en route to a test drive and terror ensued. There was no real brand tie-in – the video ends with Ford’s “Go Further” tagline – but it has racked up an impressive 1.3 million views.
Another popular prank video this Halloween, Ouija Psychic Terror, comes from the makers of the movie Ouija, who hired a psychic with the ability to pop her eyes out in order to scare the living daylights out of the poor souls who dared come in for a free reading. As of October 30, the video has been viewed 1.9 million times.
But it’s not all mimicry and terror this Halloween. Multiple brands have come out with popular original videos for Halloween.
Take Crest, for example. The brand’s The Effects of Halloween Candy video demonstrates exactly that with a room full of children high on sweets and the simple message, “Halloween candy may have an effect on your kids, but not on their teeth” because “thanks to Crest, their teeth are covered.” It also ends with some clickable coupons. The video has more than 1.5 million views.
On the other end of the spectrum is the somewhat NSFW video from Lithuanian mineral water Vytautas, Bounce Back, which features a busty nurse and a dramatic head injury. It has 104,000 views.
And then there’s Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World, who is back with an interactive masquerade, which has 1.7 million views as of Halloween Eve.
In addition to the interactive video, the brand has also partnered with Oculus Rift to create an additional virtual reality experience. As the storyline goes, the Most Interesting Man lost his little black book and asks the viewer, his guest of honor, to help him find it. At multiple points throughout the video, viewers are asked to click on one of two options. Those who “[choose] the right path through his manor” could win a ticket to an actual masquerade party in New Orleans, the brand says.
Quick service chain Chipotle Mexican Grill has created a video to push its Halloween fundraiser, Boorito, in which it offers $3 burritos, bowls, salads, tacos and kids meals to customers in costume with proceeds benefitting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, which it says is a “non-profit organization committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food system and to raising awareness about important issues in food.” The brand is also asking fans to participate in an online costume contest by uploading photos to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ChipotleBooritoContest.
And then there are the brands that opted for shorter messages.
Another player in the quick service space, Arby’s, has released a series of #TrickorMeat videos on Twitter to tout its #TrickorMeat promo in which it will add free bacon to any order on October 31 when a customer says, “Trick or meat.”
In addition, Honda says it is hosting the first-ever trick-or-treating event on Twitter by asking fans to tweet photos of themselves in costume with the hashtag #TreatPromo for a coupon for a free box of Mike and Ike candy and “a link to a spooky Vine video.” In fact, according to a press release from Honda, “Five eerie Vine videos feature the redesigned CR-V opening up when trick-or-treaters come to Honda’s door, so to speak,” on October 31.
Banking company Capital One is using the hashtag #KaCHING to tie itself to a Vine with a tip to soak jack-o-lanterns in diluted bleach to prolong their lives and ask consumers for suggestions for other “simple Halloween hacks.” (Although it should be noted the effort was not particularly popular, generating just 10 likes.)
Home improvement chain Lowe’s, on the other hand, struck a better chord with some Halloween-themed #FixinSix Vines, such as using a cookie cutter and a hammer to carve a pumpkin, which received almost 800 likes.
Oreo, too, has released some stop-motion videos as part of its Oreo Laboratorium effort in which it performs “experiments” on Oreo cookies with other treats like jelly beans and gummy worms to create “nomsters” and then asks fans for suggestions about what to call the resulting creatures.
According to digital agency 360i the #OreoLab was inspired by “an 1800’s mad scientist laboratory” and features a set design housed on Instagram with its own account, @OreoLab.
Sour Patch Kids
Candy brand Sour Patch Kids launched a series of haunted house videos on Instagram and is asking its fans to watch the videos and respond in the comments with either #SPKsour or #SPKsweet. The brand says it “might insta direct ya” about how the video ends for those that do. The series of about ten videos ranges from around 100 to 300 likes apiece.
Similarly, lollipop brand Chupa Chups has created “Get Lolli,” or what it calls the “first choose-your-own-adventure game on Instagram.” It has also posted a prequel video to YouTube.
And then there’s retailer Target, which, like Honda, says it is offering virtual trick-or-treating, but on Instagram in what it calls Halloween Hills.
According to the Target blog, Halloween Hills is “a new destination for digital DIY content” in a “haunted fantasy neighborhood.” In order to participate, fans tap any of the houses and select “trick” or “treat” when the tags appear to see “inspirational, scary-clever DIY step-by-step photo tutorials of fun, family-friendly crafts [‘tricks’]) and yummy snacks [‘treats’] housed on different accounts.”
Also on Instagram, tequila brand Jose Cuervo is pushing a cinnamon-infused tequila, Cinge, with a one-of-a-kind graphic novel called, “The Drifter: Red Moon Over Baja.”
As of October 30, the novel included eight parts, each of which had been revealed on Instagarm and many of which asked fans to like or to tag selfies with #CingeMyFace for a chance to be featured in the story.
Which marketing campaign do you think was the most creative for Halloween 2014? Share your opinion in the comments.