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Posted by Stuart Jansen on October 26, 2016

Halloween is just around the corner! It’s the most awaited day of the fall season; not just for kids and grownups, but for brands as well. So in the spirit of Halloween, we decided to create a Trick or Treat list which showcases the good, the bad, and the ugly side of ads which tried to engage with consumers during this season.

The Good

First, we will start with the brands who got it right, cleverly integrating their brand message with the Halloween spirit.

Rental site, Airbnb, offered a night in the Catacombs on Halloween, which it said "contains the remains of six million souls" and "guaranteed nightmares". According to the listing, the visitors will be able to "quench [their] thirst for adventure in a sprawling maze littered with skulls and bones". Further, the listing notes, “Pets are not allowed. Anyway, there will already be a monster under your bed,” and it advised, "Do not forget your toothbrush and pajamas, especially if they glow in the dark.”

A perfect way to engage with the audience who are looking for a scary adventure. It’s a true integration of product and promotion, a perfect treat!

Our second favourite is Tesco’s Spookemarket. This is a top class example of on-ground consumer engagement and content generation for online media. The video generated more than 1.3 million views in just five days after it was posted. 


The Bad

Next on the list is the work which had the right intentions with good ideas, but, did not get the execution right. First off - Target, a brand that is trying to bring about change with courageous moves like removing the gender labels in the toy section, and using a child model with down syndrome in their ads.

Building on their Halloween efforts, Target used a child model with leg braces and arm crutches in an ad for children’s costumes. Another bold move! The much talked about ad was thoroughly appreciated on social media for its inclusivity. 

But, was it a good idea to launch this collection on Halloween? Take a look at the ad: 

Target ad features girl with crutches and braces

So what's the problem? A person with no background knowledge of what target is trying to do could decode this as an ad which is making light of the disabled; as if the crutches are part of the Halloween costume line for kids.

A great move, but wrong timing!

The Ugly

Finally, our pick for the worst Halloween idea!

Imagine yourself taking a walk in your neighbourhood at dusk, and right at the corner of your eye you see a scary clown staring at you. Terrifying! A prank which started as a joke has become a sick, nationwide obsession, in which people in scary clown costumes hide around forests, parks, and schools to scare children and teens. It started in the U.S. and crossed its way to Canada - definitely not from the Peace Bridge!

The scare was so real that McDonald's had to hide its famous mascot, Ronald McDonald! Unbelievable, right!?!

But, an American confectionary brand took advantage of this trend to promote their candy, and the result is horrifying and humourous. Take a look:



After viewing this ad our first reaction was – “Why Atomic? Why?!”

The only thing that kids will be getting after seeing this ad is years of therapy! Halloween is about scaring people… not scaring the ‘chocolate’ out of them! The ad was funny, but very insensitive to the very real concern that these "killer clowns" are causing across the nations. Some might even say the slogan "Trick until they treat" is encouraging the prank, and potentially taking it to a new level. We feel that taking advantage of a dangerous trend, and promoting an ad with very creepy imagery makes Atomic our example of an Ugly ad.

We hope you enjoyed our review of the best and worst ads of Halloween 2016; the 2nd scariest day of the year - Trumped only by November 8th.