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Roundtable: Using Halloween to Elevate a Brand's Marketing

Aaron Steinfeld,  Sean Silva,  Jen Johnson,  Carrie Winans

Halloween is getting ghoulishly close–how are you celebrating? No doubt, you've spend the past 11 months researching the trendiest and most unique costumes. Naturally, that's totally your prerogative. But, how are we celebrating? With a roundtable, of course!

What is the most effective Halloween-themed marketing campaign you've seen, and was the brand elevated as a result?

Let's get started!


As the pro-chipotle team is likely acutely aware of, each Halloween Chipotle runs a fantastic campaign for their beloved customers. Burritos - or Booritos on Halloween, normally $9 - $10 (and worth every penny), are a mere $3 on Halloween if you come to the restaurant chain in costume. Last year, Chipotle elevated their Halloween tradition further by asking customers to use the hashtag #Boorito for the chance to win $2500.

This year, Chipotle is taking their #Boorito campaign one step further. In addition to appearing in costume, customers have been asked to don "something unnecessary" in addition to their normal Halloween garb. This is to draw attention to the fact that Chipotle's competitors serve food with "frightening" additives.

Chipotle's campaign aims to educate and inform customers about additives commonly used in other fast food chains. The boorito campaign focuses on soy lecithin, an additive that keeps salad dressing from having to be re-mixed, carboxymetyl cellulose, a bulking agent for cheaper meats and propylene glycol, an aesthetic agent which gives factory made food a "fresh" look.  Additionally, maltodextrin, a sweetener, and sodium metabisulfite, a dough conditioner for high speed cooking, are mentioned.

Chipotle has successfully created a campaign that combines the spirit of Halloween with the "frightening" conditions in the food industry. Even passive customers will be forced to recognize Chipotle's core education message in order to receive a discounted boorito.

~Carrie Winans (Follow Carrie on LinkedIn)


What is Halloween without treats? For me the cookie is king, and what better treat to talk about than milk's favorite cookie, the Oreo.

In 2013 Oreo switched their marketing emphasis over to content creation in the social media space. Since then there have been a number or memorable and retweetable ads.  Many will remember the now infamous real-time twitter post, 'you can still dunk in the dark,' during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout, but a few months before that Oreo rolled out the Halloween vines inspired by scary movie classics.  As the pun-loving person that I am, the "Exortwist" vine was thoroughly entertaining, and in 2014 they came back with the Oreo Laboratorium to create adorable and delicious Halloween 'Nomsters.'

Let's be honest, it probably doesn't take much to convince people to buy the highly addictive cookie during a time when everyone is overindulging on sweets, but Oreo does it well and pulls at our heartstrings with enjoying ads. Nostalgia has long been a key component in Oreo's marketing plan and creating little shareable clips and ads still takes us back to our childhood of make believe and scary stories. I'll be looking out for any new Oreo creations and in the meantime eating their Halloween seasonal cookies with the orange crème filling, because like Peter Pan, I too will never grow up.

~Jen Johnson


While not a specific marketing campaign relating to Halloween, Coca-Cola recently invited six strangers, all of different (often times conflicting) religious, ethnic, and cultural beliefs, to a dinner. There was just one catch, unbeknownst to the participants - the dinner would be held in complete darkness. Participants were filmed using infrared cameras as they got to know one another, using nothing but their conversational skills.  They all instantly hit it off.  They joked often, spoke of deep and sensitive issues such as their core ethnic and religious beliefs.  They routinely switched languages, and playfully tried to guess what each other looked like.  Any casual viewer could tell that, by conversation alone, and without the ability to be influenced by any societal pre-dispositions, these six individuals would now be friends for life.

At the end of the dinner, the lights came on.  The six participants were stunned.  An incredibly intellectual man who had spoken at TED was revealed to be a 6'4, 250 pound behemoth with tattoos all over his face.  Another man who loved sports and considered himself very active...was a paraplegic.  In their interviews after the segment, every participant agreed that they made new lifetimes friends, but confessed they would have never proactively approached each other, based on their appearance, if they saw each other out in public.

After the initial shock of understanding what the participants looked like, they were all given a box with a can in it.  The can was clearly the Coca-Cola colors, but it had no branding.  The only words on it read:

Labels are for cans, not people. 

In my eyes, there is not a more powerful form of storytelling than this campaign. And don't forget, it doesn't matter what mask you wear for Halloween – what matters most is the person you are beneath it.

~Sean Silva (Follow Sean on LinkedIn)


Are there any Halloween marketing campaigns you remember fondly? Share your thoughts with us!  Prosek

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