The good, the bad and ghastly Halloween marketing

Halloween marks the dark prelude to the end of year marketing bonanza that is Christmas, and this year stood out in infamy with a series of high-profile gaffes from brands many people would have thought would just know better. 

Last month supermarket chains Asda and Tesco were forced to pull their respective “Mental Patient” and “Psycho Ward” outfits after coming under fire from the mental health lobby, which claimed the outfits further stigmatised people suffering from mental health problems.

The obligatory public apologies were duly made and Asda even tried to further distance itself from the PR gaffe by promoting its range of Halloween-themed, in-store Augmented Reality treasure hunts. But just like any horror story, audiences remember the bad, and rarely the good.

Similarly, online retail giant Amazon removed pages promoting a ‘Zombie-fied’ outfit of disgraced UK DJ Jimmy Saville, following a similar public outcry.

However, on a more “refreshing” note, Carling marked Halloween with an online video campaign created by the somewhat fittingly named, creative agency Creature (see below video).

Elsewhere, Marketing Week hands plaudits to online travel firm, for its Haunted Destinations finder – an online portal that taps into the seasonal mood by encouraging ‘scare seekers’ to book stays in accommodation synonymous with things that go bump in the night (see bottom video).  

Cadbury is also getting in on the act with an in-store push to promote its range of Halloween treats. The annual push is backed by Twitter and Facebook activity promoting the seasonal sweets as the brand looks to appeal to fans who will no doubt take the to the streets later in search of tricks or treats.

Lyle’s has gone for the “if ain’t broke don’t fix it approach” for its seasonal push with the relaunch of its aptly-named limited edition Trick or Treacle version of its Black Syrup. Where food brands have opted to support their festive products with digital promotions, Lyle’s has opted against the move which could prove costly in its efforts to target younger shoppers.


Mobile phone network GiffGaff has launched a video, created in partnership with Fallon, to show it takes guts to do mobile differently. Lots and lots of guts.

Retailers are also getting in on the Halloween fun. Tesco has added a festive tab to its navigation bar that directs shoppers to its range of “spooktacular” treats. It might be lacking the flair of other efforts, but for parents in need of last minute snacks and costumes for their celebrations its a practical tool that could help lift sales in October.


Online retailer Firebox has adopted a similar approach and grouped all its Halloween themed products under a #halloween hastgag.


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