Consumers are more willing than ever to spend their money on Halloween. According to the National Retail Foundation, total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $9 billion in the US in 2018. It appears the Brits are just as eager, too, with Mintel predicting we will shell out £419 million.
While it’s true that the event inspires a multitude of extra spending on food, drink, and other party-based purchases, Halloween is not just a flash-in-the-pan sales opportunity.
Due to its creative and highly immersive nature, it also provides a great opportunity for brands to create in-person events and experiences, designed to linger in the minds of consumers long after the fright has subsided and the drinks have been drunk.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at which FMCG brands have gone above and beyond for Halloween this year, and why these kinds of campaigns can be effective.
Fanta’s Twisted Carnival
According to Simon Harrison, the customer marketing director at Coca-Cola European Partners, “What Coca-Cola is to Christmas, Fanta is to Halloween.” As a result of this apparent association (presumably due to its orange flavour), Fanta has gone all out on its spook-themed campaign this year, launching a multi-million-pound marketing campaign – its biggest ever. It’s also launched two new flavours, ‘blood orange’ and ‘pink grapefruit zero’, which were decided by consumers on the back of an online competition involving influencers.
A key part of its campaign is its ‘Twisted Carnival’ events, in partnership with Merlin Entertainments. Found in Liverpool ONE, Westfield White City, and other select UK-based locations, it involves visitors being guided through creepy carnival tents, and met by a series of creepy characters (and frights) along the way.
Essentially, it is a scary Halloween-themed ride, but one that happens to be free and located in shopping malls and other easy-access locations. You might not expect it to be anything too impressive in this context, however the reviews so far have been consistently good, commenting on its high quality nature (and very scary impact).
Another impressive element is how it has been promoted. In the run up to the tour, a ghoulish lady was spotted on London’s tube, testing out her chilling prosthetics on unsuspecting commuters.
With its simple yet powerful concept – plus a whole host of clever social content to spread the word – Fanta has certainly furthered its reputation as a brand to associate with Halloween.
Friexenet’s spooky makeovers
Cava producer Friexenet is not a brand you’d naturally think of at Halloween (or maybe all that much in general), but this year, it’s hoping to ramp up visibility in the UK with a clever partnership with hairstyling salon, Duck and Dry.
Over three nights, Freixenet is taking over Duck & Dry’s Oxford Circus salon to offer free Halloween-inspired hair and make-up looks to customers (who are heading on to Halloween parties and other such events). Participants can choose a ‘Day of the Dead’ look, or to be made over as Dolores from Westworld or Blake Lively in A Simple Favour. The service, which customers must pre-book to redeem, also comes with two free glasses of Friexenet Cordon Negro.
— S c a r l e t t ✎ (@ScarlettVClark) October 27, 2018
It’s a clever activation, largely due to its super-targeted nature. With Friexenet’s consumer market typically falling under the same or similar demographic of Duck & Dry’s – female, fairly well-off, and a fan of parties – it’s bound to increase brand awareness. It’s also an especially clever activation to launch pre-Christmas, which is when the cava season really kicks off.
Jägermeister’s ‘Divine the Dark’
Another brand to get involved in Halloween this year is Jägermeister, with its augmented reality campaign, ‘Divine the Dark’. Snapchat users can swipe up on ads to access special AR tarot cards, which reveal a fortune alongside a suggestion of how to consume the drink. It’s largely a social media push, but this part of the campaign does have a slight ‘experiential’ element, which is perhaps too much of a tenuous link to be classed as an activation.
There is an in-person element of sorts, however. These Snapchat codes are also found on Jägermeister products in bars and pubs, which the brand is hoping will target consumers on mobile and ‘in the moment’.
Another element of Jägermeister’s Halloween activity this year is more of a traditional brand activation – this time based in Copenhagen airport. In order to get travellers in the Halloween spirit, promotional staff will be dressed up and surrounded by skulls, spiders and dripping blood, creating an arresting and unusual spectacle in an airport terminal.
The unexpected nature of this activation is the key part, with the brand taking the opportunity to spook customers (and stick in their minds) as they see through an otherwise mundane and formulaic airport experience.
Strongbow’s CarnEvil parties
Proof that Halloween activations do generate results, Strongbow is bringing its CarnEvil events back for another year. In 2017, its campaign saw outlets achieve an 18% rise in Strongbow sales, and it’s no doubt hoping to achieve even more this time around.
CarnEvil allows pubs and bars around the UK to create their own Halloween brand experiences with access to an online asset library and themed POS support kits, including posters, fancy dress and other Halloween themed decorations. For those attending, they can enjoy the night and be in with a chance to win prizes – if they buy a pint of Strongbow.
Essentially, the campaign allows Strongbow to execute a brand experience without huge investment in large and expensive locations (and the resources needed to run it). By enlisting the help of pubs and bars, it is able to create unique and immersive brand-led experiences for consumers on a mass scale, and reap the rewards of increased visibility and association with the event. As an incentive for participating outlets, the brand also offers a £2,500 prize for the best dressed pub team.
This type of brand activation also shows that slick or digital advertising is not always the most impactful, with its simple and rather humble nature aligning with what a lot of people actually do on Halloween (in the UK at least) – go for a pint and a don a naff pair of fangs.