Spooky campaigns: Witch were killer

By Emily Barnes

Spooky puns are devilishly difficult.

Ah, Halloween.  Often seen as another of the seasonal bandwagons for marketers and PRs to hop on and enjoy some easy hits from a campaign tenuously linked to their client. But what is Halloween if it’s not fun? By nature, it’s the season of high jinks; to be silly and creative, which is in itself, a place where great campaigns are born.

We’re going to run through a few of our favourite spooky PR and marketing stunts and campaigns, which include some examples which demonstrate that clients with a serious brand message can still cleverly use the silliness of Halloween to keep their brand front-of-mind.

1. Tesco’s ‘Spookermarket’

Delivering on the supermarket’s recent promise to inject humour into it’s marketing, Tesco’s seasonal video content for Halloween last year garnered a social media buzz and an impressive 2.4m views to date as well as praise in trade and consumer press alike.

Delivered with BBH London, the campaign saw hidden cameras capture unsuspecting Tesco shoppers being scared by various terrifying props and actors, including severed hands in freezers and heads amongst toilet rolls. The video also prompted viewers to watch four additional videos which included a pumpkin carving tutorial and tutorial for creating a (fake) severed head in a jar. Delightfully gross.

According to Campaign, the launch day saw 805 conversation hits, of which 97% were positive; proving that even the simplest execution of the beloved hidden camera prank can create a very shareable piece of content with wide appeal, going a long way to show brand personality.

2. DigitasLBi’s ‘Internet of Pumpkins’

To demonstrate the very scary data security risks when connecting to public Wi-Fi, DigitasLBi created a pumpkin which acted as a free Wi-Fi hotspot using modified Wi-Fi penetration testing equipment, which is commonly used by criminals. Oooh er.

Users who connected to the network received a ‘trick-or-treat’ message, and whilst some received a sweet treat, others received a trick in the form of a digital crack on their screen, representing the risk of damage from hackers. Each was followed with some friendly advice on how to use Wi-Fi safely and without gruesome consequences.

This is a nice way to instigate discussion on key messages and brand awareness, by utilising a fun surprise-and-delight-tactic to deliver a serious key message.

3. Volvo’s LifePaint Spooky Safety Initiative

(Main picture)

Volvo used its spray-on glow-in-dark substance for cyclist safety, LifePaint, to launch an initiative to keep trick-or-treating kids in London safe in the dark.

Launched with Grey London, ‘Be Scary, Be Safe’ encouraged parents to pick up a can of the reflective spray from their local dealership and download a set of free skeleton stencils online, spray it on to their spooky sprog and feel safe in the knowledge that their child was visible in the dark of the night.

This is an innovative approach to a season saturated with pranks and scare tactics, which reinforces brand purpose and values by providing something genuinely useful for parents and fun for kids. Win win.

4. REI’s Zombie Survival Kit

zombie
Click to learn how to survive the zombie apocalypse

 

Outdoor clothing manufacturer, REI recognised the power of the shareable viral image with its 2013 campaign which saw the company put together an infographic detailing the 13 essentials for surviving a Zombie outbreak, all of which could be bought directly from their online store.

Even better, employees in one of their stores also held a class on how to battle the enemy should a zombie attack happen, also covering basic survival skills to avoid death by the undead.

This was a great way to achieve a relatively quick-win by playing on the novelty of horror whilst shoehorning in product links seamlessly. The in-store event added the bizarre to what is seen by some as the mundane, which gave it broader appeal and buzz.

So, brands or companies with an array of brand purpose can look to Halloween to successfully embrace a season of otherworldly imagination as a vehicle to create awareness in a particularly engaging and memorable way.