10 frighteningly cool Halloween ad campaigns from over the years

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Burger King's 2017 Halloween campaign implored consumers to 'Come as a Clown. Eat like a King.'

Given the amount of money the UK spends on Halloween every year, it’s no surprise that so many advertisers have a crack at leveraging its power to grab the attention of consumers.

As the case tends to be with most campaigns, the trick lies in the invention of a clever concept that people can relate to. When executed correctly, it works a treat – and these ads from over the years are a genuine testament to that.

Burger King: Free Whoppers for clowns

This TV ad is the centrepiece to a wider campaign with a simple message: 'Come as a Clown. Eat like a King.'

Essentially, Burger King is promoting the offer of free whoppers to the first 500 people who come dressed as clowns at five separate locations; including sites in Miami Beach, Florida and Austin, Texas.

The ad itself depicts a young man riding a bike down an eerie road whilst creepy cycling clowns follow him at every turn. However, when he sees the bright lights of Burger King, he seems to think he’s made a lucky escape.

Or has he?

Comfort Insurance: How to mod your motorhome for the Zombie Apocalypse

This ingenious campaign draws on numerous references from a vast array of zombie-related films, TV shows and video games.

That’s how Comfort Insurance, the specialist provider of motorhome insurance, has modified its own illustrated motorhome with everything you’d need to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Customers can click through the page and explore the various features such as guillotine windows, all-terrain wheels and even a front-facing zombie plough.

The breath-taking attention to detail makes this campaign particularly special, including subtle references from The Walking Dead amongst other zombie pop-culture favourites.

Ikea: The Shining parody

Fans of Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick will love this one. Paying homage to the creepy hallway scene in The Shining – this commercial spoofs the famous single camera shot following the little boy riding around on his tricycle.

While the actual film is set in a spooky Colorado hotel, the ad version takes place in a slightly more familiar setting – Ikea.

The ad itself forms just one part of the campaign though, as the producers hid various Ikea products within the video for people to try and spot.

This shrewd tactic helped it launch a social media competition for further brand engagement.

Ford: Spooky car wash

Ford push the boundaries of real-life horror in this elaborate stunt.

Watch as a seemingly innocent car wash takes a ghastly turn for these unsuspecting drivers and passengers.

If you enjoy seeing people jump out of their skin - then this ad will definitely resonate with you. It’s also funny to see how much the actors in the masks really get into their respective weird and wonderful characters.

A nice effort from the team at Ford, showing everyone they’ve got a sense of humour.

Booking.com: Haunted hotels

Tales of strange goings-on at various so-called haunted hotels have done little to stop consumers looking to travel to these spooky locations.

This is why Booking.com saw this as an opportunity to capitalise ahead of Halloween in 2013.

The creation of a haunted destinations finder on the site was widely promoted at the time under the scary strapline: ‘Stay If You Dare’.

This campaign works a treat in helping travellers book their ghostly getaway from an extensive list of haunted locations around the world.

Topshop: Stranger Things collection

This isn’t the first time a clothing brand has jumped on current TV and film trends as a means for selling branded merchandise.

But you have to admire the way in which Topshop has gone about this particular promotion of the Stranger Things collection inspired by the Netflix supernatural horror phenomenon.

The show itself is highly marketable through its cool 80s feel which matches the Topshop and Topman target customer to a certain extent.

Topshop has even gone a step further by transforming its flagship Oxford Circus store to give it an 80s arcade-feel in celebration of the show’s return over the Halloween period.

LG: ‘So Real it’s Scary’

LG has certainly dared to be different with this clever stunt.

Playing on the tagline ‘So Real it’s Scary’, the brand succeeds in not just demonstrating the jaw-dropping realism of their IPS monitor display, but also frightening the life out of people for your viewing pleasure.

The TV spot begins with two workmen fitting the IPS screens to the elevator floor, before installing a number of hidden cameras.

The rest of the ad shows footage of people’s reactions as the IPS display floor panels appear to fall away as an optical illusion.

The sight of people squirming around and desperately grab hold of what they can is all good fun – while reminding us of the realistic high-quality display of LG IPS Monitors.

Kellogg’s: Vending machine prank

If there’s one thing you need to know about Halloween advertisers it’s that they certainly get their kicks from giving the public a good old fright.

Much like the LG campaign, this Kellogg’s ad also demonstrates the power of hidden camera experiments to joyful effect – this time through the prism of a vending machine.

When reaching down to collect their delicious Rice Krispie snack, people are instead greeted by something horrific as the camera captures some hilarious reactions.

A light-hearted campaign to emphasise the brand’s personality in the spirit of Halloween.

Petco: ‘Make a Scene’ photo contest

This Petco campaign makes the list for its sheer simplicity, with this brand awareness campaign being all about user-generated content.

There’s a real audience out there of people who love to share pictures of pets. Add to that the Halloween element of a competition where the best photo wins the $10,000 prize and you’re on to a winner.

When it comes to photo sharing there’s no platform better than Instagram, and when you combine that with #HaloweenTogetherContest tag then you’re sure to engage many relevant target consumers with your brand.

Nothing particularly daring here, just simple and effective.

Svedka Vodka: Spread the curse

As a data-driven display campaign, this really succeeds in unsettling the end-user.

With ad creative that seemingly represents a subtle nod to the classic horror The Ring, Svedka Vodka retarget website visitors with banner ads that act like a curse.

The only way the curse can be lifted is if the user returns to the site and acts upon their visit.

Given that it’s actually powered by people’s data this may be the creepiest campaign of all, but we certainly admire the creative thinking that has gone into its execution.

Daniel Wright is a creative executive at Latitude

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