Corporate trick-or-treating: The 9 best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire your marketing

    Corporate trick-or-treating: The 9 best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire your marketing

    There’s a reason why fall is considered high season in the business world — it has the most shopping-related holidays that people go crazy about!&nbs...

    There’s a reason why fall is considered high season in the business world — it has the most shopping-related holidays that people go crazy about! 

    Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas! Ah, it’s truly a busy time for marketers trying to leverage every opportunity to boost their brand.

    The holiday that sets off all this craze is Halloween. Children at heart, people love acting spooky, fooling around, and trick-or-treating!

    Brands better match that energy and spirit in order to reap benefits from their Halloween marketing campaigns. VistaCreate templates can help get you there in spooky-fast time.

    Browse more free Halloween design templates

    In this article, we’re going to share some of the best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire you for great 2022 marketing for fall and All Hallows’ Eve!

    3 am apparitions — Burger King

    In folklore, the time between 3 am and 4 am is known as the “witching hour,” when all kinds of strange and supernatural events occur. That’s when witches, demons, ghosts, and other undead creatures break free from the otherworld and reign in our realm. 

    For their 2021 Halloween campaign, Burger King came up with a  creepy paranormal activity that could keep you up at night during the All Saints’ Eve season. They released their “3 am apparitions” commercial to promote a special, spooky deal. 

    “This Halloween, these apparitions take away your sleep. And your hunger.” — the video says, urging people to wake up at 3 am during Halloween week to get a free Burger King meal through the Burger King app. 

    What was good about this Halloween campaign? 

    First of all, Burger King’s 2021 Halloween campaign had very high production quality — it could easily pass as a trailer for a new Paranormal Activity movie — just what Halloween calls for! 

    Besides, the campaign set a clear goal of boosting app downloads and focused on achieving it through giving customers a generous in-app offer.

    We aren’t sure if viewers of the ad were genuinely so scared by the footage that they stayed up all night, or if they just set their alarm to wake up at 3 am sharp to  enjoy their free Whopper, but this campaign was a success — the blood-chilling promotion increased app downloads, usage, and visitors.

    Key takeaway: Set a clear goal for your campaign and don’t be scared (pun intended) to make your Halloween campaign genuinely spooky. That’s what Halloween is all about. 

    And since we’ve touched upon the subject of Burger King marketing, let’s see what their lifelong rival brand, McDonald’s, prepared for Halloween 2021.

    Halloween Menu — McDonald’s

    For Halloween 2021, McDonald’s released a series of Halloween-themed posters where the fast food restaurant’s most popular menu items got a little spooky makeover. 

    For example, the box of fries turned into a pair of vampire fangs, the cheeseburger’s melted cheese stretched into a scary-looking face, and the topping on the signature strawberry sundae resembled an evil ghost.

    What was good about this Halloween campaign?

    McDonald’s decided not to reinvent the wheel and created a limited-time offer to celebrate the eerie holiday. Instead, they featured the brand’s classics that don’t need any introduction. 

    Indeed, the menu items that appeared in the Halloween ads are as well-known as McDonald’s itself. It allowed the brand to keep the designs minimalistic — there was pretty much no text, no explicit indication of the brand behind the ad besides the little yellow M-shaped arches, no names of the food items. 

    Just McDonald’s and its incredibly strong branding with worldwide recognition.

    Key takeaway: It’s no big deal if the copy of your Halloween campaign isn’t revolutionary. Even with a simple “Happy Halloween” message, it’ll still be one for the books if you manage to design creative and high-quality visuals for your Halloween ad. 

    The best thing is that you don’t need a team of professional designers to produce a noteworthy professional-looking Halloween visual. VistaCreate offers a huge library of templates to aid your Halloween marketing campaign!

    Mischief Maker Ritual — Lush

    Lush is known for going all out in their holiday marketing. Halloween 2021 was no exception as the brand launched a special Halloween-themed collection of their handmade cosmetics that featured Monster Octopus Shower Jelly, Aliens and Monsters Fun, Ghostie Bath Bomb, Ectoplasm​ Shower Slime, Don’t Look At Me Fresh Face Mask, and more. 

    To promote these products, the company released a series of 4 short Instagram videos highlighting traditional Halloween monsters’ beauty rituals. 

    In the videoclips, the Headless Horseman indulges in a Mischief Maker Ritual, applying a face mask to “get gourd-geous skin.” Mummy-Ramesses takes a relaxing bath with a soothing bath bomb as a part of his Ceremony of Restoration. Billy blows bubbles during his Bathroom of Horrors Hex. And a skeleton “scares away dull lips” with a Conjuring Spell.

    What was good about this Halloween campaign?

    Instagram is a beauty influencer’s favorite social media platform. So, it was clever for Lush to launch the Halloween campaign on Instagram and introduce Halloween characters doing their spooky beauty rituals specifically on this app. 

    ➡️ Learn more about Instagram marketing in our article. 

    Moreover, Lush tapped into the power of humor marketing and showed traditionally creepy creatures like Billy from Scream, the Headless Horseman, skeleton, and Ramesses doing funny things — dancing in the shower, blowing soap bubbles, and applying a face mask to a pumpkin. It’s quite a spectacle!

    Key takeaway: Make sure you know your audience well and choose the best platform for your Halloween marketing campaign. And remember, even though Halloween is a scary holiday, a little bit of fun can go a long way! 

    Speaking of fun Halloween campaigns…

    “Bite Size Halloween” — Snickers

    The TV commercials Snickers released for their Halloween 2021 campaign are as confusing as they are exciting to watch.

    A woman dressed up as a bear that shows up to trick-or-treat at a friendly neighbor’s along with the kids and insists she is a bear? A Park Ranger that claims a bear is on a loose? A woman that gets struck by a lighting? A man claiming a paranormal-something has just made contact with planet Earth? 

    Yeah, we have no clue what it’s all about and that’s exactly what we love about this Halloween campaign!

    What was good about this Halloween campaign?

    The 120-second long videos Snickers released on Halloween 2021 didn’t focus on promoting Snickers sweets. In fact, the ads explicitly mentioned the brand only once at the beginning of the video, unobtrusively featuring Snickers candies in the footage. Instead, they offered viewers several short spooky stories that are interesting to watch and equally interesting to discuss.

    Both commercials raised more questions than gave answers, which got the audience to talk about the Snickers campaign online. 

    Key takeaway: No matter what you are marketing this Halloween, remember that stellar storytelling is always important. You want your audience to be on the edge of their seats throughout the ad, anticipating what’s going to happen next. Then, your campaign will resonate with your audience. 

    Getting the audience to talk about your Halloween campaign is particularly important for a candy brand because sweets are, arguably, the most in-demand product of the holiday season. There’s plenty of competition, so you had better really stand out!

    Treat Map — Reese’s and Nextdoor 

    Corporate trick-or-treating: The 9 best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire your marketing


    Treat Map is an annual Halloween seasonal feature by the neighborhood social networking app, Nextdoor. Treat Map allows Nextdoor users to tell their neighbors which festive activities they’re going to participate in, so everyone can plan their Halloween night accordingly. 

    In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing restrictions associated with it, some of the traditional Halloween activities like giving our treats and showing off Halloween decorations shifted to the virtual realm.

    In 2021, however, Nextdoor partnered with Reese’s to bring the tradition back. Last year, people could use the app to share their plans for Halloween and indicate whether they were giving out treats, decorating outside, or doing both. 

    What was good about this Halloween campaign? 

    Reese’s capitalized on a Halloween tradition created by a different brand to establish themselves as the candy brand of the Halloween season, and we’re here for it!

    It’s a low-risk, high-return marketing strategy for Reese’s as they didn’t need to come up with a new original idea for their Halloween promotion — all they did was sponsor something people already used, loved, and cherished. 

    Key takeaway: Sponsorship is a great way to promote your business during the Halloween season. Just piggyback on another brand’s success. And don’t forget that there are plenty of different social media platforms — your marketing activities shouldn’t be limited to just the 10 most popular conventional ones. 

    Nextdoor, however, wasn’t the only brand Reese’s partnered with for their Halloween marketing. We told you, there’s tons of competition, so you need to make sure you cover all the bases! 

    The next campaign on the list of the best Halloween 2021 marketing campaigns is by Reese’s, too.

    Apartment 5G — T-Mobile and Reese’s

    For Halloween 2021, Reese’s became the “official candy of 5G,” partnering with T-Mobile and releasing a limited edition candy, the Reese’s 5G bar. 

    T-Mobile continues to expand its 5G footprint at an unparalleled pace, so we partnered with the candy icons at Reese’s this Halloween to help spread the word and give everyone more of what they love — more Reese’s, at ultra-fast 5G speed!

    Our multi-layered approach for fast and far-reaching coverage made us America’s 5G leader, so it made perfect sense to partner with THE famously layered candy brand to create the official candy of 5G, the Reese’s Take 5G bar … AND the best trick-or-treating experience. Zero tricks, way more Reese’s … now that’s Halloween on 5G!

    Mike Sievert, CEO at T-Mobile

    During Halloween week, the two brands collaborated on a New York-based popup apartment anyone could show up to and trick-or-treat their way into, receiving a supply of Halloween treats. 

    Ten particularly lucky visitors to the festive location even got a chance to win a free 5G smartphone, a year of T-Mobile 5G service, and a year’s worth of Reese’s products!

    What was good about this Halloween campaign? 

    Zero tricks, just giving out treats is a great approach to making your way to the customers’ hearts. By giving away candies on Halloween, Reese’s reflected on the fun, festive nature of the holiday, and raised their brand awareness. 

    Key takeaway: You don’t have to go for obvious partnerships for your Halloween collab to be an effective one. 

    Tasty Human — TEMPTATIONS

    Cats are extremely cute, we can’t argue with that. But they’re carnivores at heart, and if they were a little bit bigger, they’d follow in their fellow wild felines’ footsteps and try to eat humans. 

    Temptations, a cat treats brand, knows this spooky fact about cats, and for Halloween they decided to share it with the world. 

    So, for their 2021 Halloween marketing campaign, Temptations released a Limited Edition TEMPTATIONS™ Tasty Human treat and a slightly weird short video. 

    In the videoclip, a man is taking a bath and gets a little bit spooked by the idea of being eaten by his cat. “Treat your cats to TEMPTATIONS™ Tasty Human before they treat themselves to you!” — says the main character of this ad right as he treats his pet to a handful of cat treats. 

    What was good about this Halloween campaign?

    The campaign video was short but straight to the point: it captured our attention right away, gluing us to the screen by sharing a weird fact. It promoted the product and  ended with a very catchy line. 

    Also, it featured a very cute kitten! We can’t help but give Temptations bonus points just for that!

    Key takeaway: Juxtapose cute with sinister — it’s likely to have the potential to go viral.

    Tomato Blood — Heinz

    There’s a 99% chance that you’ve used ketchup as fake blood for your pranks, videos, and Halloween costumes. Ketchup is the OG DIY blood, and everyone — including the king of tomato condiments, Heinz, — knows it. 

    For their 2021 Halloween campaign, Heinz changed the looks of their legendary ketchup bottle by adding blood-like imagery and a new name. For the duration of the campaign, Tomato Ketchup turned into Tomato Blood. Boo!

    Throughout the Halloween season, Heinz, which previously suggested putting their ketchup on things like burgers and fries, now encouraged customers to slather the sauce all over themselves to give the appearance of a stabbing victim. They even changed the tagline to “If you have Heinz, you have a costume!”

    What was good about this Halloween campaign? 

    Heinz really went out of their way to promote the Halloween special and provide customers with a full Tomato Blood ketchup experience.

    To further build on the whole costume idea, Heinz also released a Tomato Blood Costume Kit – a box containing a makeup palette, sponge, dropper, makeup brush set, rhinestone sheet, tattoo sheet, vampire teeth, and spooky eyelashes in addition to the Tomato Blood ketchup.

    Corporate trick-or-treating: The 9 best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire your marketing

    Finally, the brand also opened up a popup Heinz Halloween Store in Los Angeles, where they offered Halloween costumes and an interactive “drip station” experience.

    Corporate trick-or-treating: The 9 best 2021 Halloween campaigns to inspire your marketing

    Key takeaway: Make sure you’re self-aware and know exactly what your customers use your products for. And if you do run a Halloween marketing campaign, commit to making it grand!

    #ASOSAlterEgo — ASOS

    @jonysios Meet my alter ego…😵‍💫 can i see urs??😈 with @asos Face+Body 🎃 #ASOSAlterEgo #AD ♬ ASOS Alter Ego – Meg J ft. Sarah New

    For Halloween 2021, ASOS decided to tap into TikTok marketing and launched a Halloween-themed challenge for influencers and users to participate in. 

    The idea behind the challenge was very straightforward: TikTok users had to show their festive transformation into their Halloween Alter-Ego, using items they got off ASOS.

    To hop on the trend, people had to shoot their video using the Halloween-esque branded music and a branded visual effect that splits the screen into 4. Then, they had to publish the video with the #ASOSAlterEgo hashtag

    What was good about this Halloween campaign?

    The best thing about the #ASOSAlterEgo campaign is that it was very engaging. TikTok users could publish their takes on the Halloween Alter-Ego and keep the trend going. 

    In fact, the campaign got so viral that the hashtag itself started trending, attracting more and more people to use it for promoting their videos and, unknowingly, spread the word about ASOS. 

    As a result, #ASOSAlterEgo achieved over 839 million video views in the UK alone, with 283,000 creators participating.

    Key takeaway: Leverage TikTok for low-effort, high-return Halloween marketing campaigns. Make sure you encourage people to create user-generated content for your brand to raise your brand awareness, too! 

    ➡️ Learn more about TikTok marketing in our article. 

    As you can see, there is a lot great marketing happening around the fun of Halloween. What ideas were your favorites? How will you creatively promote your business and brand this Halloween? We can’t wait to see what you create.

    Valerie Kakovkina

    Content marketing manager at VistaCreate. Valerie loves all things marketing, with her favourite areas being email marketing and social media. When out of the office, Valerie loves travelling, going to parties, and helping her friends with their art projects (oh to be surrounded by artists).

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