Get ready for the spooky season: Marketing lessons for Halloween

This piece by Will Hossner, our Head of Account Management, first appeared in The Drum.

Halloween has evolved into an occasion in the European calendar that teens and young adults are genuinely excited by. They now take a real, participative interest in the event and sales of Halloween-focused products reach hundreds of millions in the UK alone. That’s a lot of potential to tap into, particularly as Halloween is nowhere near as competitive for brands as Christmas in Europe.

For the past two years, we’ve helped Fanta Western Europe establish a credible association with Halloween, resulting in a significant increase in sales over the period. With Halloween close on the horizon for 2019, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way. 

For best results, combine physical & digital 

Our Fanta work combined physical and digital elements to make sure that all bases were covered. Exclusive packs designed by London-based illustrator Noma Bar had both shelf standout and access to Snapchat AR lenses on a high rotation. Social media content raised awareness of both the packs and lenses, driving engagement and encouraging co-creation. Fanta also undertook further experiential work to promote its association with the occasion. Both the physical and digital elements have allowed Fanta to reach a broad audience and establish a solid hold on Halloween marketing. 

Enable shared experiences 

We’ve found that the Halloween shopper is looking for things that will enhance the Halloween experience for themselves, their friends and family. This could be through the products they buy to serve at Halloween-themed gatherings, or through digital experiences that they can share. Brands can help enable this behaviour and even place themselves at the centre of it. This could range from creating exclusive packs, offering content such as recipes that include their product(s) and by initiating experiences (physical and digital) that strengthen the association between them and the occasion. 

Social is important, but look beyond the big guns

Social media allows brands to offer a participatory layer to augment and enhance other marketing activity and it can often achieve greater scale than experiences that require physical attendance. It also, of course, offers an opportunity for pure awareness and engagement driving activity around exclusive Halloween products, which is particularly effective when paid social is used to enhance reach and improve targeting. However, with lots of younger consumers engaging in Halloween content, it’s worth looking beyond the bigger platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Our work with Fanta to date has been Snapchat-led, reaching the most relevant audience for the brand. 

Keep an element of intrigue 

We’ve all been young and we all know that teens hate being told what to do. Running the Snap codes on packs taught us that if the pack designs have shelf-standout (as they did with Noma Bar’s impactful characters that were used), and there’s a clear CTA to ‘snap-to-unlock’, a large proportion of this audience will be intrigued enough to scan and discover for themselves, without needing to tell them specifically what they’re going to find. Keeping this element of intrigue can clearly be quite compelling.

Relax and experiment 

Halloween is a time when people experiment with different identities through costumes and experiences. This in itself represents opportunities for brands to help enable this transformative behaviour and perhaps even experiment with it themselves. Halloween can allow brands to expose a more playful and unexpected side which may help recruit new shoppers to their products, to then continue the relationship once the occasion has finished.  

In conclusion, although getting busier for brands, there’s still ample opportunity for them to establish a position in Halloween if they have a credible story to tell, do new and surprising things and crucially, there’s a good fit between their values and those of the occasion.

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