Brands Play “Dress Up” on Halloween

Halloween has grown to become one of America’s favorite holidays. On one special night, we’re all given a pass to break out of our well-groomed personalities and express our hidden desire to be scary, funny or fantastical. Halloween dares us to bend the rules of conventionality and embrace the different and bizarre. In a way, Halloween is one of those rare opportunities to rebrand ourselves without consequences.

In a sense, the same holds true for brands, some of whom take on “new costumes” around Halloween. Many do it with impunity, casting aside fears of disrupting their strategic messaging or corrupting their core values. They’re given license to play outside of their expected messaging during this spooky season and dress up in something delightfully fresh and spirited to juice up their appeal to a sometimes bored, even jaded consumer base.

Let’s take a look at a couple of notably spooky campaigns:

1, a hotel reservation site, introduced a ghoulishly clever campaign focused on “haunted” hotels. Frightening horror movie-style posters dare thrill-seeking travelers to use the website to book a stay at seven of the most haunted hotels in America. The normally straight-laced website successfully climbed out on a market-savvy limb to target a niche audience at just the right time of year.


2 Verizon

Verizon’s Halloween-themed TV spot features a trick-or-treating family dressed in Star Wars costumes who use the company’s multiple devices to navigate the hurdles of extorting candy from the neighbors. While playing it pretty safe, the commercial successfully engages viewers in a spirited and compelling seasonal celebration. It even includes a warning from one of the kids to avoid the dentist’s house because he’s “giving out floss.”

Even though brand integrity is important special events such as Halloween, present opportunities to bend the rules a little. All Hallow’s Eve serves as a great excuse for brands to dress up, have fun, and take on a slightly different personality, if even for a few hours.

So just as the neighborhood kids come knocking in Frankenstein masks and witches’ hats, they’re still mostly recognizable and welcome on our front porches. We know them and they’re familiar to us. Entrenched national brands can do the same. And they are with considerable success.