Halloween is big business in ad land, more so now than ever before, so every brand and agency under the sun is taking advantage of the seasonal madness by bringing a (temporary) spooky edge to their creative advertising work. Here I'll be examining a few of the more notable and creative examples, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you happen to come across any other interesting Halloween-themed campaigns or one-off activations that you feel are worth mentioning, sound off in the comments below.
Tesco & BBH London scared the hell out of some of the most unsuspecting victims this year. Who really thinks they are going to get spooked in a supermarket? The florescent lights really add to your suspense as you roam the aisle's looking for the eggs which you can never quite locate. The carefully crafted moments literally jump out at these shoppers on their weekly strolls. It's one of those things that is more enjoyable when you know it's not happening to you.
Internet of Pumpkins
Our friends at DigitasLBi have created the Internet of Pumpkins, a pumpkin which pranks unsuspecting Wi-Fi users to demonstrate the potential data security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
Burger King's Black Bun
Whilst I can confirm that the genuinely horrendous looking A1 Halloween Whopper might taste almost identical to a traditional Whopper (save for the subtle BBQ flavour baked into the bun), there's certainly something to be said for the attention to detail lavished on Burger King's limited edition black burger. Whilst the innards might remain unchanged, the USP is the jet-black bun, which has caused quite a stir on social media. The black burger isn't a new concept for the fast-food chain, as it has been a Japanese staple since 2012, though that burger also contains black cheese and squid ink (really). Thankfully, they've decided to lay off the ink for the UK incarnation, which debuted at the start of the month and will remain on sale through the weekend, but the idea to bring the concept to these shores was inspired, as we're simply not used to our fast-food chains taking such drastic risks. As such, when the A1 first hit, we went more than a little bit nuts for it, and as a result, Burger King saw a massive up-shoot in social media trending throughout October. Whats next? A bright red bun in time for Christmas? I honestly wouldn't put it past them.
Giffgaff's House of Horrors
Contract-free mobile network Giffgaff, has released an immersive short film called “House of Horror” to reveal the everyday fears of its members. The tongue-in-cheek horror film was created based on a simple Facebook post back in August, which asked Giffgaff members to share their greatest fears. The five fears that feature are: Politicians, social media game requests, socks and sandals, voicemails from your mother, dead phone batteries and phone contracts. Notice how the campaign manages to sneakily hide mobile contract related 'fears' amongst more generic (and silly) ones. Clever, but admittedly a little transparent. Award-winning director Ninian Doff of Pulse films shot the entire film inside a derelict Grade II listed mansion, within the grounds of Beckenham Place Park. The film can be seen on Giffgaff’s social channels and in both Nomad, and Pearl and Dean Cinemas. The House of Horrors follows in the footsteps of previous Giffgaff Halloween frolics; 2013's “Different takes guts” and 2014's “Giffgaff x Halloween.”
Giffgaff, has released an immersive short film called “House of Horror” to reveal the everyday fears of its members
Doff said of the film: “I loved the list of Giffgaff member fears - it’s really amusing, and relatable, to see the strange fears we’ve developed of supposedly normal and dull things in modern life. Then it was really funny to film these un-scary things with the same drama and tension you would film a scene with a knife wielding maniac or a blood-thirsty zombie.” Tom Rainsford, Giffgaff’s brand director, added: “After watching Halloween celebrations in the UK grow each year, we decided in 2013 that we would create authentic horror content. This move resulted in over 2.5 million total campaign views in just 48 hours last year. This year, we’ve managed to create a short horror film that not only remains true to the authentic Halloween theme, but also has our members’ fears at its heart, making it even more powerful.”
Forever Manchester's Little Print Shop of Horrors
Forever Manchester, the charity that helps to fund thousands of community groups and projects across the Greater Manchester region, has partnered with Creative Spark once again with the annual “Little Print Shop of Horrors” campaign. The idea is for the creative agency to team up with external and internal designers every year to reimagine classic horror movie posters. This year, the theme was “Award Winning Horror,” so films featured included such classics as American Psycho, Jurassic Park (debatably not really a horror movie, but still) and Sleepy Hollow. The studio was split into teams, giving creative freedom to the design team, directors, operations, business development, collaborators and work experience. The results are reliably awesome.
Asda's VR Horror House
Asda has launched a VR Halloween experience on YouTube, created by Happy Finish. The video follows the adventures of four trick-or-treating children who wander into a haunted house, and is shot in 360-degree video, perhaps a media first for a grocery brand in the UK. When watching from a mobile, tablet or desktop, viewers can adjust their point of view in each scene and look around and even (importantly for a supposedly scary film) behind them. In five stores, shoppers can also pick up a free Google Cardboard, which turns an inserted smartphone into a VR headset for a more immersive experience whilst watching the film. The campaign, devised by Carat UK, puts Asda products at the centre of the story to inspire parents with ideas for costumes, props and food for throwing a Halloween party.
Asda has launched a VR Halloween experience on YouTube by Happy Finish and Carat
Matthew Hook, managing director at Carat, said: “This is a great example of entertainment and retail; engagement and transaction coming together into a brilliant consumer experience. It’s fantastic to work with Asda to push the boundaries of what’s possible and to create new and exciting experiences for their customers.” Daniel Cheetham, chief interactive officer at Happy Finish, added: “We’ve absolutely loved working on this exciting 360 film. We’ve built the narrative with sensitivity to VR and hope we’ve created something accessible to the target audience, while also pushing the limits of 360 filming. It’s really exciting to think that this film may be the first YouTube 360 film with shoppable cards in the UK. We hope ASDA customers really enjoy it.”
The House Network's Ghost Free Service
Fake products or services have become almost their own sub-genre of advertising of late, especially with the advent of social media. This might just be one of the best examples of the medium though. Online estate agent, the House Network, have offered a fake “Ghost-Free Certification,” with an accompanying video to legitimise the offer. It's a cheap and cheerful campaign, but it does the trick, and is shot in a surprisingly realistic manner. The only thing giving it away is the noticeably silly soundtrack.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He's going as a banana for Halloween this year because it's the cheapest costume he could find.