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Halloween (could be) big business for UK brands




Long before Pride crept up on every advertising agency’s radar as an opportunity to create relevant content AND show their finely tuned social awareness, Halloween was running the show. Less denominational than Christmas, without the personal connotations of Father’s Day or Mother’s Day but with just as much consumerist kudos, Halloween is celebrated by more and more people globally, each year.

And the numbers clearly show it: in 2017 UK Halloween spending is expected to reach £320 million.

But here’s the creepy catch: these skyrocketing figures are still being relatively ignored by the UK advertising industry, with only a few brands jumping on the ghoul-wagon. The handful of months between summer and December are still mostly spent preparing a Christmas extravaganza across all sections of the market. By late November, no brand message is left untouched by mistletoe and mince pies, making it an incredibly competitive space for a brand to be in.

In the US, where 2017 Halloween expenditure is predicted to reach $9.1 billion, it’s as big an occasion for brand outreach as the Super Bowl. Ever-expanding budgets are being pumped into it, big celebrities are featured and the crème de la crème of creative minds unleash experiential and visual marvels onto the expecting public. UK brands could do a lot worse than looking over the pond for inspiration and a chance to break the mould.

There have been hundreds of examples in the last decade of this ever-growing US industry trend, but here are some of the best from last year:


In 2016, to celebrate Halloween Bacardi launched an immersive haunted house called “Nocturnal Awakening” from Kenzo Digital. Built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the installation was based on a conceptual style in the spirit of Suspiria and the zietgeist-y Black Mirror, it featured innovative tech alongside visual and auditory effects to terrify the visitor . The entire experience translated into widely shared social content and loads of positive press coverage for the brand.


Nestle hired Millennials’ favourite Chance the Rapper to star into this jingle re-jigging, bear costume-wearing, double identity mini ad that set the internet on fire over last year’s Halloween weekend. 


To celebrate Halloween in 2016, Airbnb launched a competition that would allow the winner to sleep in Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, hosted by Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew. Before you ask, yes, coffins were available as a sleeping arrangement. 

Want to get a head start on  planning for Halloween 2018? Email us and see if we can help.