This Halloween, many food retailers and chains are hoping their marketing tricks can persuade consumers to buy their treats.
Spending surrounding the holiday is increasing, giving more incentive for brand managers to craft Halloween campaigns that stand out and capture consumers’ attention.
A survey commissioned by Citi Bank of 2017’s celebrations revealed that millennials spend up to twice as much as any other generation in the lead-up to the 31st, with over a quarter of each consumer’s average spend going on confectionery alone.
Here’s how marketers for several candy and food companies are making a splash:
Candy brands tweet visuals and recipes
Social media teams for several trick-or-treating staples tweeted in preparation for trick-or-treat festivities to grab consumers’ attention.
Skittles threw shade while Starburst leaned on iconic monster imagery to urge consumers to buy:
— Skittles (@Skittles) October 26, 2018
— Skittles (@Skittles) October 24, 2018
— Starburst (@Starburst) October 26, 2018
— Starburst (@Starburst) October 19, 2018
KitKat, M&M’s and Snickers shared recipes, highlighting other desserts and snacks featuring their products:
— KITKAT (@KITKAT) October 25, 2018
— KITKAT (@KITKAT) October 29, 2018
Only going to the party if they have these… pic.twitter.com/SGb1nu1qBp
— M&M’S® Brand (@mmschocolate) October 10, 2018
— SNICKERS® (@SNICKERS) October 24, 2018
However, many other food and restaurant brand managers have seized Halloween festivities to push marketing messages and build brand buzz.
Starbucks and Burger King craft themed menu items
On Oct. 25, Starbucks debuted a limited-time Witch’s Brew Frappuccino:
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) October 25, 2018
This year’s Halloween drink stirs together chia seeds disguised as bat warts, which clump together in the drink like a pudding, and is topped with vanilla whipped cream dusted with lizard scale powder, which looks a lot like matcha powder, according to Refinery 29. The ingredients come together in the drink’s toad’s breath and orange crème base.
Burger King also recently introduced a limited-time offering, which it dubbed the “Nightmare Burger.”
still not as scary as a clown. pic.twitter.com/I8T3gzaxR9
— Burger King 🎃 (@BurgerKing) October 22, 2018
The fast food chain claims that the burger can give nightmares to those who eat it.
In partnership with the Paramount Trials and Florida Sleep & Neuro Diagnostic Services, Inc. and Goldforest Inc., the Burger King ® brand conducted a scientific study over 10 nights with 100 participants (or should we say victims?) who ate the Nightmare King before they went to bed. By tracking various signals from the sleeping subjects including their heart rate, brain activity and breath, a group of doctors and scientists identified whether the individuals had vivid dreams.”Someone… transformed into the figure of a snake”, reported one of the study’s subjects when asked about her dream. Another recalled “aliens attacking” the boat he was on.
“According to previous studies, 4 percent of the population experiences nightmares in any given night” said Dr. Jose Gabriel Medina, a specialized somnologist and the study’s lead doctor. “But, after eating the Nightmare King, the data obtained from the study indicated that the incidence of nightmares increased by 3.5 times.”
Though some question Burger King’s claim, including Live Science, the stunt has made headlines and sparked conversations online.
The efforts by Starbucks and Burger King encourage consumers to create digital content, instead of brand managers. By offering a menu item that begs to be posted on Instagram, Snapchat and more, organizations can reap the benefits of crowdsourced content and conversation—especially when influential social media users take part.
Several chains entice with free and discounted food
Krispy Kreme, Chipotle, IHOP and The Cheesecake Factory are offering free or discounted items on Oct. 31.
Krispy Kreme announced it’s giving away doughnuts to visitors wearing costumes.
On Wednesday, October 31, drop into any Krispy Kreme location wearing a costume, and you’ll get handed a totally free donut. The deal is good for any free donut available at your local shop, while supplies last, meaning you can get your usual classic glazed or go all out for the occasion and stuff a Monster Batter donut — and all three of its candy eyeballs — into your face. The fourth Halloween-themed donut, by the way, is decidedly less spooky with its simple coating of chocolate icing and sprinkles.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) October 29, 2018
The doughnut chain is probably hoping that when you come in for your free treat, you’ll also buy a few dozen to give out for trick-or-treaters:
Step up your Halloween sweets and hand out something better than candy bars. pic.twitter.com/yzUnIVe4hH
— Krispy Kreme (@krispykreme) October 25, 2018
Chipotle is offering discounted “booritos” on Oct. 31 to consumers wearing costumes:
༼ つ ╹ ╹ ༽つ Boorito is back!
Come in costume on 10/31 from 3pm to close for $4 entrées.
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) October 24, 2018
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) October 30, 2017
IHOP is giving away a free Halloween-themed pancake to diners under 12 years old on Oct. 31:
Beginning at 7 a.m. on Oct. 31, kids 12 and under can create a free Scary Face Pancake at participating IHOP locations. Even better, if you don’t make it to IHOP for breakfast, the deal goes until 10 p.m., so you can instead have breakfast for dinner, even after trick-or-treating. This offer is valid for dine-in only and is limited to one per child.While IHOP doesn’t say exactly what your kids will be using to decorate their pancake, the photo on their website shows candy corn, Oreos and strawberries.
For consumers who want to stay in for Halloween, The Cheesecake Factory partnered with delivery service DoorDash to give away slices of two of its chocolate-cheesecake concoctions.
Here’s how it works. If you order $30 worth of Cheesecake Factory goodness through the app—which is pretty easy to do if you’re getting dinner for two or more adults—you can choose from a slice of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake or Hershey’s Chocolate Bar Cheesecake, at no extra charge. Just pick one, add it to your order, and put in the promo code TRICKORTREAT at checkout.
Many of these discounts and giveaways are meant to drive visitors on a typically low-sales day.
Brad Plothow, vice president of brand and communications for Womply, said the small business software provider analyzed more than 26,000 restaurants and in 2017, Halloween ranked in the bottom 15 percent of revenue days.“If you’re not in the mood for parties or trick-or-treating, Halloween is a great day to go out to eat,” Plothow said. “It’s one of the slowest sales days of the year, with visits down about 20 percent, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a table at your favorite local haunt.”
King’s Hawaiian turns to theaters
King’s Hawaiian flexed its storytelling muscles with an animated film called “The Legend of Hallowaiian,” which can be seen in select theaters and on DirectTV.
The film stars the voices of celebrities Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame, Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things, and actress Vanessa Williams. It tells a story set in the Hawaiian Islands during a spooky Halloween evening featuring the release of a mythical monster that is reminiscent of the sci-fi horror in Netflix hit series Stranger Things.And while characters aren’t eating King’s Hawaiian rolls, the brand’s new crown-based logo is suggested by the monster’s head.
The 82-minute film contains some mentions of the brand’s rolls, including a home that gives out rolls instead of candy to trick-or-treaters. King’s Hawaiian is also giving away prizes on its “Hallowaiian” website, including DVDs of the film, toys and a trip to Hawaii for four. The site also features Halloween-themed recipes.
King’s Hawaiian tweeted clips and images from the film, along with themed recipes and tweets:
— King’s Hawaiian (@KingsHawaiian) October 8, 2018
The only thing more satisfying than watching Kiefer O’Reilly throw our rolls into Menehune’s mouths is actually eating one yourself. Visit https://t.co/hXHSxGfDWm to learn more. pic.twitter.com/f8QdbkmcJT
— King’s Hawaiian (@KingsHawaiian) October 16, 2018
— King’s Hawaiian (@KingsHawaiian) October 17, 2018
What do you think of these marketing efforts, Ragan/PR Daily readers?