Halloween 2023: Best Brand Strategies

Published 26 October 2023

Authors
Marta Mąkolska
4 min read

Halloween is bigger than ever, with US spending expected to hit $12.2bn, exceeding last year’s $10.6bn (NRF, 2023). From nerve-jangling audience participation (Burger King, Jack in the Box and Snapchat) to artificial-intelligence-(AI)-generated scary selfies (Snapchat again), augmented reality (AR) gaming (Monsters Cereal and Chobani) and trick-or-treat home delivery (M&Ms), we look at the best brand activities.

Key Stats

$12.2bn

Halloween spending in the US is expected to hit $12.2bn in 2023, exceeding last year’s record of $10.6bn

73%

A record 73% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year – up from 69% last year

$108

Americans will spend an average of $108.24 per person on Halloween costumes, decorations and candy – up from the previous record of $102.74 in 2021

$4.1 bn

Total spending on Halloween costumes in the US is projected to reach a record $4.1bn, up from $3.6bn in 2022

$3.9bn

In the US, total spending on Halloween decorations, which grew in popularity during the pandemic and continue to resonate with consumers, is predicted to achieve $3.9bn

$3.6bn

Americans’ spending on Halloween candy is forecast to expand to $3.6bn, up from $3.1bn last year

£1bn

Halloween spending in the UK in 2023 is estimated to increase to more than £1bn ($1.22bn), up from £687m ($836m) last year

56%

In the UK, 56% of consumers are planning to make a Halloween purchase in 2023

87%

Britain’s Gen Zers are anticipated to spend the most on Halloween 2023, with 87% spending an average of £46 ($56) each

1.8m

In the US, 1.8 million adults are planning to dress up as Barbie this Halloween, putting the character in the third place behind witches (5.8 million) and vampires (2.4 million)

80%

Four in five Snapchatters are expected to use the app during the Halloween period

2.1x

Halloween ads on Snap see more than double (2.1 times) the audience awareness compared with Kantar market norms

  • Burger King's Bookable Phone Fright: Using the classic horror trope of an anonymous threatening phone call, Burger King’s 60-second video The Call (on YouTube, social platforms and cinemas), directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (alumnus of long-running cult series American Horror Story), features a terrorised woman being told: “It’s back. It’s coming for you.” The mystery threat is revealed to be the launch of Burger King’s limited-edition Ghost Pepper Whopper and Chicken Fries.

    Amping up audience engagement by tapping into the rise of immersive cinema experiences, US-based consumers can book their own movie moment by registering at TheCall.bk.com to receive a personalised anonymous call - at a surprise time.

  • Burger King's Bookable Phone Fright: Using the classic horror trope of an anonymous threatening phone call, Burger King’s 60-second video The Call (on YouTube, social platforms and cinemas), directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (alumnus of long-running cult series American Horror Story), features a terrorised woman being told: “It’s back. It’s coming for you.” The mystery threat is revealed to be the launch of Burger King’s limited-edition Ghost Pepper Whopper and Chicken Fries.

    Amping up audience engagement by tapping into the rise of immersive cinema experiences, US-based consumers can book their own movie moment by registering at TheCall.bk.com to receive a personalised anonymous call - at a surprise time.

Buger King

Buger King

Buger King

Buger King

  • Jack in the Box's Touring Terror Truck: Also encouraging audience participation is American fast food chain Jack in the Box. Released on Friday, October 13, its seven-minute Feeding Time video (with writers’ credits including, once again, American Horror Story: 1984Servant and Saw) for its seasonal Monster Tacos and new Angry Monster Tacos is broadcast across social media, YouTube and streaming platforms including Hulu (with 30- and 15-second edits).

    The video features a group of teens terrorised by a flesh-eating food truck and contains a hidden code that unlocks free tacos for the brand’s loyalty app’s first 1,000 members. A real-life replica of the truck took to the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday, October 21, and can be rented for Halloween parties via the Resy reservations app from October 24.
  • Jack in the Box's Touring Terror Truck: Also encouraging audience participation is American fast food chain Jack in the Box. Released on Friday, October 13, its seven-minute Feeding Time video (with writers’ credits including, once again, American Horror Story: 1984Servant and Saw) for its seasonal Monster Tacos and new Angry Monster Tacos is broadcast across social media, YouTube and streaming platforms including Hulu (with 30- and 15-second edits).

    The video features a group of teens terrorised by a flesh-eating food truck and contains a hidden code that unlocks free tacos for the brand’s loyalty app’s first 1,000 members. A real-life replica of the truck took to the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday, October 21, and can be rented for Halloween parties via the Resy reservations app from October 24.

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box

  • Snapchat’s Interactive, AI-Fuelled Phantom Adventure: Also interactive – and adding a layer of AI engagement – Snapchat’s Phantom House, created in collaboration with US-based production studio Secret Level, is a weekly Halloween game from October 8. It stars three US Snap Stars (top content creators), comedians Tony Talks (161k subscribers) and Ezee (300k subscribers), and actress  Sofie Dossi (12.1m) – who try to escape from a haunted house by solving puzzles and clues. Users can tune in weekly, participating via Lenses, using AR filters to superimpose a Phantom House room scene and help the Stars with puzzle solving. The experience can be shared via Snapchat’s new AI-generated Dreams Phantom House selfies. Participation and repeat viewing is encouraged with weekly instalments.

    With 80% of Snapchatters on the app during Halloween (Snap, 2023), and a Snap-reported 2.1 times lift in ad awareness over the period, compared with Kantar market norms, Disney+ and Maybelline were the first brands to sign up for the show using Snap’s First Lens.
  • Snapchat’s Interactive, AI-Fuelled Phantom Adventure: Also interactive – and adding a layer of AI engagement – Snapchat’s Phantom House, created in collaboration with US-based production studio Secret Level, is a weekly Halloween game from October 8. It stars three US Snap Stars (top content creators), comedians Tony Talks (161k subscribers) and Ezee (300k subscribers), and actress  Sofie Dossi (12.1m) – who try to escape from a haunted house by solving puzzles and clues. Users can tune in weekly, participating via Lenses, using AR filters to superimpose a Phantom House room scene and help the Stars with puzzle solving. The experience can be shared via Snapchat’s new AI-generated Dreams Phantom House selfies. Participation and repeat viewing is encouraged with weekly instalments.

    With 80% of Snapchatters on the app during Halloween (Snap, 2023), and a Snap-reported 2.1 times lift in ad awareness over the period, compared with Kantar market norms, Disney+ and Maybelline were the first brands to sign up for the show using Snap’s First Lens.

Snapchat, Phantom House

Snapchat, Phantom House

Snapchat, Phantom House

Snapchat, Phantom House

  • Monsters Cereal Serves Up Phygital Frights: FMCG giant General Mills has partnered with Walmart on shoppable AR experience Creep to a New Beat for Monsters Cereal. It features Carmella Creeper, its newest (and first female) cereal character, DJing a remix of Monster Mash. Scanning a website QR code unlocks a mobile game of tapping monster faces to create your own monster cereal mix, accompanied by “You go, ghoul” voiceover encouragement. The game links to Walmart to buy limited-edition Monster Mash Remix Cereal.
  • Monsters Cereal Serves Up Phygital Frights: FMCG giant General Mills has partnered with Walmart on shoppable AR experience Creep to a New Beat for Monsters Cereal. It features Carmella Creeper, its newest (and first female) cereal character, DJing a remix of Monster Mash. Scanning a website QR code unlocks a mobile game of tapping monster faces to create your own monster cereal mix, accompanied by “You go, ghoul” voiceover encouragement. The game links to Walmart to buy limited-edition Monster Mash Remix Cereal.

General Mills

General Mills

General Mills

General Mills

  • Chobani's Gameified Packaging: Also using AR gaming, American yoghurt brand Chobani has a QR code on its Halloween packaging (and online) to unlock a phygital “trick or treat” experience. Players knock on doors to reveal “tricks” (skeletons, witches and monsters) or “treats” (digital ringtones and wallpapers, physical key chains, stickers, totes and more). They can then enter their email to claim prizes, play unlimited times and use Chobani’s Halloween-mask filter for selfies.
  • Chobani's Gameified Packaging: Also using AR gaming, American yoghurt brand Chobani has a QR code on its Halloween packaging (and online) to unlock a phygital “trick or treat” experience. Players knock on doors to reveal “tricks” (skeletons, witches and monsters) or “treats” (digital ringtones and wallpapers, physical key chains, stickers, totes and more). They can then enter their email to claim prizes, play unlimited times and use Chobani’s Halloween-mask filter for selfies.

Chobani

Chobani

Chobani

Chobani

  • M&Ms Home Delivery to the Rescue: With M&Ms the second most popular Halloween candy in the US (Reese’s Cups scoops first place - Candystore.com, 2023), its maker, Mars, created a campaign for Halloween 2023 to push itself into pole position. The one-night-only M&Ms Halloween Rescue Squad, which ensured trick or treat bowls didn’t run out on October 31, was based on a Mars survey that found nearly half of Halloween-celebrating Americans worry about running out of trick-or-treat rewards, and most (89%) have eaten some of the candy the night before it was intended to be handed out.

    Partnering with US nationwide grocery delivery company Gopuff, the debut service promised free M&Ms home deliveries in under an hour for customers who registered on the dedicated website at 3pm ET on October 31. They didn’t need to download the Gopuff app, but they did need to live in a Gopuff delivery area. The site launched ahead of Halloween with an e-commerce element selling a selection of M&Ms, all with 30- to 60-minute home delivery.

    See also Retail’s New Servicescapes and Innovating the Last Mile
  • M&Ms Home Delivery to the Rescue: With M&Ms the second most popular Halloween candy in the US (Reese’s Cups scoops first place - Candystore.com, 2023), its maker, Mars, created a campaign for Halloween 2023 to push itself into pole position. The one-night-only M&Ms Halloween Rescue Squad, which ensured trick or treat bowls didn’t run out on October 31, was based on a Mars survey that found nearly half of Halloween-celebrating Americans worry about running out of trick-or-treat rewards, and most (89%) have eaten some of the candy the night before it was intended to be handed out.

    Partnering with US nationwide grocery delivery company Gopuff, the debut service promised free M&Ms home deliveries in under an hour for customers who registered on the dedicated website at 3pm ET on October 31. They didn’t need to download the Gopuff app, but they did need to live in a Gopuff delivery area. The site launched ahead of Halloween with an e-commerce element selling a selection of M&Ms, all with 30- to 60-minute home delivery.

    See also Retail’s New Servicescapes and Innovating the Last Mile

M&M's

M&M's

M&M's

M&M's

M&M's