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  • Writer's pictureSusan McGing

Scarily good – Halloween Marketing Done Right

It’s that time of year, to surprise, scare and instil fear…

Some brands ignore Halloween, some try half-heartedly to get in on the spooky action. But others take the opportunity to create work that is hauntingly creative.

Here are a few of our favourite scary campaigns. Read on if you dare…


Kicking off our list is the latest horror flicks to hit cinemas, the eerily sinister ‘Smile’. This scary movie is smashing the box office, and this is thanks to a brilliant guerrilla marketing campaign in the lead up to its release. People in the US began to notice something strange wherever they looked – on the news, at football matches, there was always someone lurking in the background…. Smiling. Unblinkingly. As creepy as it sounds! And by ambushing broadcasts, they caught the attention of a massive audience free of charge.

Heinz Tomato Blood

Everyone knows that ketchup makes for the best fake blood. So last year, Heinz released limited edition “Tomato Blood” bottles for local vampires (with 57 “blood types” according to the bottle). They’ve brought the campaign back this year, with a word from veggie vampire advocate, Toby (played by TikTok creator E.J. Marcus). We wish this delicious packaging was available in Irish shops!

Marmite Trick or Treat

“A treat for the lovers, a trick for the haters” – playing off the divisive nature of Marmite, in 2018 the brand released limited edition bottles to either delight or scare. A frightfully simple campaign that strongly resonated with the public’s view of the brand and linked in perfectly with the spooky season. Which would you choose?

IKEA The Fearniture Collection

Another brilliantly simple campaign, in 2020 IKEA presented the “Fearniture Collection”… geddit? Playing with shadows to transform their products into the stuff of nightmares, these creative print ads brought Halloween to people’s homes at a time when we all needed a bit of spooky fun.

Burger King Scary Clown Night

If there is a perfect way to troll your competitor, this might be it. Leveraging Halloween and the release of IT, Burger King let the world know that everyone is welcome in their restaurants – even if you come looking like their rival’s creepy clown mascot. #ScaryClownNight offered anyone w

ho arrived to a Burger King dressed as a clown a free Whopper Burger. And to add to the trolling, they placed their ads in front of McDonalds restaurants. Ronald McDonald has yet to respond…

Blair Witch Project

Finally, we can’t do a roundup of brilliant Halloween marketing without mentioning the Blair Witch Project. Bringing the theme movie to life, the strategy was to create confusion among the public – was this real? Did this film crew really go missing? They achieved this through passing out missing people’s leaflets, creating a website with mythology on the Blair Witch and the missing filmmakers, planting messages in online chat forums about the film, and even a mini documentary shown in colleges. By the time the film hit cinemas, people were too curious not to go see it.

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