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Halloween season is upon us, and it’s exciting to see companies compete with each other for the best spooky marketing. On the holiday’s eve, why not review the top commercials devoted to that matter. Here’s the list of the best Halloween ads.
1. Dietz & Watson – Scary Good Snacks with The Gabaghoul
Why: who would have thought that one of the best Halloween ads in recent years would come from Philadelphia-based delicatessen brand Dietz & Watson. And here we are applauding their 2021 campaign with the Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore playing a foul-mouthed ghoul that goes by the name Gabaghoul. The formula of a perfect campaign is executed painstakingly here. Take a universally loved actor from a cult show, get some seasonality, and add a local flavor. The result is entertaining to watch. Just steal the snacks from Gabaghoul, you might get him upset.
2. Burger King – Ghost Pepper Whopper
Why: we love it when companies really go all in with the seasonal ads. Home of Ghosts activation of Burger King is one such instance. It’s deliciously well-made and very cinematic. The commercial follows the spooky ghost encounter of the girl who’s alone at her house. Supernatural things start to unfold, her phone falls like 3 times in a row, and we’re on the edge of our seats waiting for something bad to happen to the poor girl. But no, it’s all about the new Ghost Pepper Whopper, the girl is safe, she just wanted to eat real bad in the middle of the night. And we certainly can’t blame her, this burger looks really good.
3. McDonald’s – Halloween Buckets
Why: kids of the ’90s will immediately feel the nostalgia kick rewatching this one. Boo Buckets ruled back then and Happy Meal felt really special with them in it. Announcing a new feature, McDonald’s has produced one of the most beloved and best Halloween ads too. Just look at this theatricality. The castle of Chicken McNiggets, the sounds, the full-scale Ronald McDonald walking among the puppets, the British accent of a woman-puppet. It was a great time for marketing back then. So just enjoy the good old times. By the way, in 2023 the Boo Buckets return to McDonald’s so another thing to be excited about.
4. M&M’s – Crispy’s Costume
Why: as one of the main suppliers of “treats”, like Snickers was, M&M’s really goes all in on marketing when the Halloween season comes. That’s why we’re graced by the poignant and hilarious ads every year. Crispy’s Costume from 2004 is one of the best commercials company produced and it is a nice showcase of M&M’s formula to a memorable holiday ad. The red candy is making the yellow candy’s costume. Then the yellow one tries to guess who he is. What follows is the famous line of the latter that goes like this: “I’m a pirate! Uh, no. Spaceman? No. Ninja?”. He’s not a ninja, he’s a lantern full of candy. Happy Halloween everybody.
5. IKEA – The shining
Why: you can produce a Halloween ad. But it would be hard to match the grandeur of Ikea’s holiday commercial from 2014. The Swedish giant produced one of the best Halloween ads ever by recreating The Shining in the familiar setting of the labyrinthine Ikea store. The child is riding his three-wheel bike through the endless furniture-filled halls of the mall. Each turn has a new spooky surprise like a menacingly-looking teddy bear atop a bed or a casually dining family of skeletons in one of the store’s showcase kitchens. But wait until you see the turning point of the commercial.
A child stumbles upon his parents holding hands in the blue dresses a la twins from Shining. The sight of his father in a dress alone makes your guts turn colder than ice. It turns out that the whole thing is some kind of a daydreaming nightmare of our hero. That’s definitely something to talk to a therapist about, though. If a small child has such a vivid Shining-inspired daydream, that’s not a laughing matter.
6. Booking com – Haunted Hotels for Halloween
Why: the best Halloween ads are not all cute and fluffy. Sometimes you have to pay homage to the horror too. Booking.com once went bold with their spooky marketing giving us the flawless ad about a girl in a haunted hotel. The sounds, the editing, the sense of creeping dread, it all feels like you watching horror movies from the 70s. And the haunted hotel booking market is a thing so the company wins in that department too.
7. Reese’s – It’s Reese’s season
Why: a little bonus from 2023, Reese’s Halloween ad is just an example of really good seasonal marketing. With 15 seconds of running time, it masterfully utilizes the 1980 tune “Release the Beast” from Breakwater (that Daft Punk famously sampled in their Robot Rock) and introduces a sympathetic pair of dancing skeletons. Well done, we’re dancing.