Traditionally a holiday for kids, Halloween is already big business in the US and is now exploding through Europe. In the US alone, close to $7 billion is being spent around the holiday (that’s $74 per person) and it’s the fourth biggest holiday behind Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. In the UK it’s now the third biggest holiday, seeing spend rocket from just £12 million in 2003 to £300 million last year. Some brands are still scared of being associated with this time of year - but for the brave, bags of treats await!
As we see the rush for branded content increasing, there will be the expected scary social media posts. But in the US there’s an estimated 158 million people planning Halloween activities this year and, according to retail analysts Conlumino, just over two thirds of people in the UK plan to celebrate Halloween. That’s a great opportunity for brands to get involved and enhance their spooky experience.
For a new product launch, Halloween provides a frighteningly good platform to create an experience for your existing audience and connect with new fans. Last year in the UK, Brothers Cider used the holiday to launch its new Toffee Apple Cider by creating Fear Factory – a fake head office with four themed zones taken over by zombies and ghouls. With live music, photo opportunities, different flavoured ciders around the venue plus a Twitter ‘treasure hunt’, the brand achieved a social media reach of 572,000 and are taking Halloween to retail this year with a limited edition party kit giveaway/Facebook competition.
Being part of a unique experience evokes a response and stays with you. By knowing what your customers are into, you can connect with their passions and create unique memories. Even better if those passions fit seamlessly with Halloween. House of Vans know their audience are skaters but they also know they’re into hardcore-punk. So last year they created Dead Rock ‘n’ Rollers versus Zombie Ripper Fiends – a four-day event with skateboard bowl comps, live music, massacre art exhibition and a cinema room screening non-stop horror movies. Instead of taking the easy option of just throwing a sponsored party, they curated something their fans will love and talk about. The ghoulish content poured out across social media channels and through dedicated skate sites. This year it’s back for the ninth consecutive year!
When your brand is all about experience, this time of year is added incentive to get creative. In Paris, Airbnb will continue their series of stays in usually inaccessible places by rewarding two brave people a stay beneath the sewers with over 6 million dead bodies in the famous Paris Catacombs. At its core this is a giveaway tactic but Airbnb has themed it well, transforming the eerie tunnels into a bedroom with added scare factor from a bedtime storyteller, who will join the ‘lucky’ couple in the evening to thrill them with scary tales from beyond the crypt.
The bottom line is that there’s nothing to be scared of at Halloween. From targeting families to night dwelling partygoers, Halloween is only getting bigger. With huge numbers joining in the holiday, there’s opportunity for brands to reward their customers and connect with new fan(g)s! Just because you’re dressing up you can still stay true to who you are and what you stand for. The ‘trick’ is to understand what your audience is into and give them a spooky ‘treat’ that they’ll talk about beyond the day itself! For the brands that do dress up, there’s a big bag of treats waiting - as long as it’s done right (and ‘creeeeepy’, instead of ‘eurgh, creepy’).
Jeff Povlo is Founder and Brand Engagement Specialist at Scape