Food & Drink Brands get Creative for their Halloween Marketing Campaigns


Halloween is a great opportunity for brands to be creative with their marketing campaigns whether they are choosing to scare, excite or bring laughter to their target audience. Over the past decade, Halloween has evolved and isn’t just a holiday about sweets and treats anymore, other industries like cosmetics and apparel have taken a huge boom in demand from it.


A report from Statista revealed that consumer spending in the UK in 2013 has since doubled by 2019, which resulted in a total spend of £474 million across the country for the holiday period. It has since been referred to as the 3rd biggest event in the holiday calendar for retail. This echoes the vast opportunity for brands no matter the industry to jump on the holiday season and use it to their advantage to promote their products even if they don’t fit the ‘Halloween norm’.


Halloween Spend

Each year the total spend for the holiday period has consistently increased. In 2020 the average amount an individual was willing to spend in total increased by 6.78% from 2012. We can only assume that consumers are spending more on the holiday season due to the various products needed to celebrate the occasion in style i.e. food and drink only covering a portion of the celebrations! Halloween costumes and decorations now take up a huge chunk of consumer spending. The National Retail Federation conducted their annual Halloween survey in 2019 and found that consumers plan to spend 36% of the budget on costumes, 30% on decoration and 29% on sweets. 


Previous Brand Campaigns 


So after reviewing all that data that shows you how much success this holiday could drive for your brand if you’re not already participating in the holiday period, I’ve collated my top 5 brands/ads that got creative for the spooky season.


Burger King Trolls McDonald’s Clown in Halloween Campaign


In 2017, Burger King UK released their Halloween campaign that featured numerous spooky clowns, one of which looked undoubtedly like their competitor’s mascot: McDonald’s. Coincidentally, amongst all the chats about Burger King taking a jab at their long-time rival, the campaign ran perfectly in harmony alongside the new premier of IT that hit the cinemas on the 8th of September 2017. Because of the huge success that the film gained, Pennywise was reborn as one of the scariest characters in mainstream culture and Google Trends were popping up across the country of scary clown sightings.


The main objective of the marketing campaign was to get consumers to dress up as clowns and make their way down to their leister square branch, where the first 500 clowns could receive a free whopper. 



“Come as a clown, eat like a king” 



Was the main tagline that cleverly took a Halloween spin on their nostalgic slogan, while also taking the mick at McDonald’s famous Ronald McDonald. The campaign was able to cater for those not living in London by encouraging them to still dress up but instead of taking a trip to the restaurant, they are encouraged to share photos of themselves online using the hashtag #ScaryClownNight. 


In my opinion, Burger King couldn’t have had a better opportunity handed to them to take shots at their rival. LOLA MullenLowe and Burger King worked together to create this masterpiece of a campaign and to continue provoking McDonald’s they purposely placed their print ads outside McDonalds restaurants to create a media stir. 

As a result, the campaign achieved 2.1 billion in impressions and gained exposure across the globe where you could see #ScaryClownNight trending on various channels and 1100 mentions in articles across 40 different countries.



Pepsi & Coca-Cola Rivalry

In 2013, Pepsi ran a social media campaign that teased their biggest competitor Coca Cola to generate buzz online about their drink and drive traffic to their brand.


I think the messaging Pepsi was trying to achieve with this post was to paint a picture that anyone who drinks or wants to be like Coca-Cola for Halloween would be scary, whether they’ve taken inspiration from the cape of a vampire which is seen to be a scary costume? Some fans suggested that the ad intention was to show that consumers deepest darkest wishes are in fact to drink Pepsi instead of Coke. 


Overall the messaging was unclear but it was obvious they just wanted to take a swipe at their rival and was able to avoid legalities by misspelling the brand name swapping out the ‘L’ for another ‘C’.


What Pepsi probably didn’t anticipate was how strongly Coke fans felt about their beloved drink and jumped to their defence. Although Coca-Cola never officially responded to Pepsi’s post they didn’t need to after this ingenious fan’s response.

As a result, the campaign went viral within hours and racked up 24,185 shares in a week across Facebook and Twitter, reaching over 65 million people alongside mentions on Reddit.


Fanta Snapchat Filters

For 3 consecutive years, Fanta has used Snapchat filters to run their annual Halloween marketing campaign. Trying to home in on their teen audience, Fanta successfully utilised filters to create their brand activations across the platform which in 2017 resulted in a 23% brand growth during Halloween in the UK.


Fanta collaborated with London-based artist Noma Bar who commissioned 4 scary brand filters consumers could use and interact with on the platform. These filters were given unique Snapchat codes that consumers could find once they purchased a pack of Fanta from their local store. This campaign ran from September through to November with the content continuously rotating depending on the time of day so consumers could use fresh new lenses each time.

Rosalind Brown, Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola GB, said:


“Halloween is a fast-growing sector in the UK and this is largely driven by millennials – Fanta’s key demographic – making it the perfect occasion to engage with our fans. We know that experiences are of the utmost value to millennials and so using platforms like VR and Snapchat allows our fans to create relevant and exciting experiences and then share them online.”


As a result, 25 million unique users interacted with the campaign, generating over 137 million impressions with more than 1.14 million on-pack Snapcodes unlocked.


Innocent Smoothies Beetle Juice


Innocent always know how to rock the social media game! Last year they creatively released a new drink inspired by the film Beetlejuice in time for Halloween. It was a successful marketing stunt that sparked consumers to reply to their post but however, it did not make its way to the shelves although some consumers expressed interest that they would buy the drink if it was made with blackcurrants, blueberries and any other dark red/purple fruit.


Innocent dominate the social platforms, this post racked up over 10k likes across the platforms with over 1000 people commenting and sparking a discussion in their comments section. What’s great about innocent is that they take the time to answer some of the comments, which is what can get more attention and coverage. Usually, what makes their posts so successful on social is the comment section and how they can provide witty comments back to their audience. Below are a few examples of this:



M&Ms marketing team are on ball every year when it comes to their annual social media take over for the whole month of October for the holiday period. They are able to market their chocolate to suit the spooky season from posting content on halloweeny treats and recipes to season-specific content. They’ve already well underway with their Instagram content for this year, check out their Instagram page.


In 2017, they launched a campaign on Instagram which was a series of interactive posts featuring a haunted house. Each day they would post a new scene to correlate each chapter of the story and ask their consumers to vote on what action the main character should take to influence the next scene of the series. Each post racked up thousands of likes and comments which makes it such an ingenious idea to increase engagement on your posts.

If you’re looking for more in-depth ideas on social content to drive engagement, make sure to check out this blog. Or get in contact with us to see how we can help you take advantage of this holiday season and drive engagement for your brand.


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