Trick or Treat? 5 Scarily Good Halloween Marketing Campaigns

halloween marketing campaigns

Tormenting tricks, tasty treats, creative costumes… This can only mean one thing: it’s nearly Halloween! October 31st is one of our favourite times of the year, not just for the spooks, but also because it’s when brands let their imaginations run wild with their Halloween marketing campaigns.

From funny videos to PR stunts and promotions, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to stand out from your competitors and have some fun with your customers.

Yet to think of a creative campaign? Gain inspiration from some of the best Halloween marketing campaigns from recent years.


Fanta put Snapchat and Virtual Reality at the centre of its 2017 Halloween campaign. The fizzy-drink brand invited all Thorpe Park and Westfield Stratford visitors throughout October to experience The 13th Floor, in which participants were taken to an elevator for various VR tricks and treats.

The campaign continued with in-store visuals, dedicated online content and the release of limited-edition packaging with QR codes that unlocked branded Snapchat filters and lenses.

This 2017 Halloween marketing campaign is the perfect example of utilising the latest and greatest technology, social networks and influencers to maximise engagement and reach.

Burger King

The release of It, the movie based on a Stephen King novel about a murderous clown, accompanied by the bizarre killer clown trend, meant that 2017 was very much the year of the clown when it came to Halloween. A clever individual in Burger King’s marketing department pointed out that their biggest competitor (McDonald’s) uses a friendly clown as their mascot, a realisation that birthed one of the best marketing campaigns of recent times.

The 2017 Burger King Halloween campaign was the perfect blend of on and offline marketing, with a series of memorable video adverts splashed across social media, television and during selected screenings of It, as well as in-store promotions and offers.

The fast-food chain awarded customers who visited a select number of their stores dressed as a clown with a free Whopper. With just one not-so-subtle Halloween marketing campaign, Burger King replaced McDonald’s as the go-to name when it came to fast-food and clowns, drawing inspiration from the popularity of the likes of Stranger Things and It with its digital content.

The campaign got global press coverage and was brilliant for building brand loyalty, awareness and engagement, as well as getting one over a key competitor.

Any keen marketers and business owners should keep an eye on Burger King’s marketing activity, as they often run fantastic campaigns. Recently, they created a tremendously successful and surprisingly emotive campaign based on bullying, titled “Bullying Jr.


Stephen King is a mainstay when it comes to Halloween literature and film, and now, it seems the author has a huge influence on marketing this time of the year. Take IKEA’s old-but-gold 2014 Halloween campaign inspired by The Shining, for instance. The Swedish furniture brand turned one of their Singapore stores into the Overlook Hotel, the setting of the cult classic book and film, to create a video ad for their new late-night shopping hours, parodying the iconic scene in which little Danny Torrance rides around the hotel on his toy tricycle.

The video struck nostalgic chords with fans of the original book and film and became an instant favourite among consumers. Not only did it highlight the store’s latest promotion (late shopping), it also further affirmed IKEA as a family-friendly brand and a great day out for all ages to enjoy.


Topshop made the most of their huge pulling power to collaborate with Netflix for their most recent Halloween campaign. The two companies partnered up to provide an immersive, multiplatform campaign based on Stranger Things, one of the streaming giant’s most popular original shows.

us fashion network: Top Shop

Many successful marketing campaigns have a direct influence on the products brands sell. For example, the nightlight in John Lewis’s 2017’s Christmas advert sold out in a matter of minutes. Not to mention the amount of Moz the Monster cuddly toys the brand was able to sell as a result of the ad! Topshop’s 2017 Halloween campaign used a similar technique, releasing a whole Stranger Things clothing collection to complement the release of the new series and the brand’s seasonal advertising.

In addition to being able to dress like the protagonists of the hit show – set in the 80s – the multinational fashion retailer’s customers were able to enjoy a Stranger Things experience at various stores, which were transformed into set pieces inspired by the show. This campaign was backed by Topshop’s social media pages and a unique Stranger Things landing page on their website.

The Halloween campaign was one of many creative campaigns by Topshop in 2017. Our favourite has to be their VR waterslide, though!

Dunkin’ Donuts

Competitions can be ideal for engagement, particularly user-generated content. For Halloween last year, Dunkin’ Donuts used the hugely popular platform of Instagram to encourage users to submit their best costumes with the unique, branded hashtag #DDHalloweenContest. The winner of the competition, which was created to promote the brand’s two new drink flavours, featured on the Times Square billboard and received $2,500 and a year’s supply of coffee.

photo: dunkin donuts

The inclusive campaign did not stop there, however, with Dunkin’ Donuts also partnering with Snapchat to offer fans an interactive game, as well as limited-edition filters and lenses.

From uploading photos of their costumes to sending pictures of themselves clad in Dunkin’ Donuts-branded Snapchat filters, social media users became highly engaged in the campaign, which resulted in a huge boost for brand awareness and loyalty.

Key trends in successful Halloween marketing campaigns

So, what trends and techniques can we take from these successful Halloween marketing campaigns?

  • Visual

    Halloween is an incredibly visual holiday. The digital world is no different. In order to stand out this Halloween, you need creative, eye-catching videos, graphics and photos. What would make you stop in the street or quit scrolling on your phone? Create visual content that stretches across multiple platforms and makes people think. All of the above campaigns made the most of everything in their creative arsenal to get people talking. You need to do the same.

  • Popular trends and fads

    What are people currently talking about? Is it a particular news story, like the killer clowns in Lincolnshire? Is it a particular TV show like Stranger Things? Look at social trends on the likes of Twitter and Facebook and keep up to date with local, national and global news stories. Something as simple as binging your favourite TV show could spark a genius campaign. Remember, it’s a lot easier to jump on the bandwagon of something that already has your customer’s attention.

  • Originality

    Stand out from the crowds by creating something unique to your competitors. Each of the above brands did something that had never been done before. While these are global organisations, there is no reason why you can’t do the same in your industry. There’s nothing wrong with echoing the ideas of bigger brands, but make sure you put your own spin on it.

  • Engagement

    Engagement is absolutely pivotal for both on and offline campaigns. You want your PR stunt, stall or shop to be as busy as possible, the same way you want people to comment, share and take action with your online content. The more engagement your content gets, the more likely you are to “go viral”, so to speak. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers directly if you want them to do something, such as enter a competition or share their own brand-themed photos.

  • Collaboration with Influencers

    “Competition makes us faster; collaboration makes us better.” While this may be a quote we found from Google – with no attributed author – it certainly rings true for a lot of creative marketing campaigns. Think about Topshop and Fanta’s 2017 Halloween marketing campaigns: would they have been anywhere near as successful without their respective collaborations with Netflix and Thorpe Park? This year, why not look for a key influencer in your industry to collaborate with? The end result could be extremely fruitful for the both of you!

What other seasonal trends should we prepare for?

Planning ahead is absolutely essential when it comes to marketing. Think about seasonal trends, as well as patterns in your industry. Do particular products or services become more popular at certain times of the year for your business? What are people searching for right now? What will they need a few months down the line? Now is the time to prepare for 2019 and beyond.

Need some help preparing your 2018 Christmas marketing campaign? Check out our guide below for some inspiration!

Christmas Marketing Ideas for Digital Success


Oliver Wilkinson
Content Marketing Exec
Knapton Wright