It's that time of year again. The time of year when spooks come out, grown adults dress like cartoon characters, and video marketers have an excuse to try and scare their target audiences witless.
But it's not just about the scares. If we play our cards right, there's also a lot to be gained by businesses during the Halloween season: like a chance for creating greater brand awareness, reinforcing existing branding, and forging an emotional connection with our audiences.
That said, let's not forget about the fun side of creating a truly memorable Halloween campaign. There's no reason why great video marketing content can't give you both!
Here are our picks of the 5 most memorable and effective Halloween video ads of all time, and the best practices they followed to be so successful.
1. Ikea — Play with familiar tropes
What makes scary films so scary? Often, it's the fact that they take the familiar and do something different (and frightening) with it. And that's also what makes video ads memorable, minus the frightening bit.
In this homage to The Shining, Ikea takes their instantly recognisable store layout — a well-known sight for most of us — and transforms it into a nightmarish maze. By taking cues from one of the most famous horror films ever made, the brand doesn't just catch the attention of a very broad audience; it also sets up certain familiar expectations.
Expectations which they can then shatter, in a very humorous way.
By playing with the expected and unexpected, Ikea uses this video ad to create a unique and memorable connection in the minds of its target audience. Its brand is reinforced, and horror fans are thrilled. Win win!
2. Lux — Be truthful to your product (or service)
Even if your product or service isn't inherently scary (and let's face it, it's probably not), that doesn't mean you can't get involved in Halloween. But make sure you stay true to your product or service as well as your brand values.
That's what Lux did in this beautifully shot, amusing video ad. They used a little clever wordplay and a big twist to remind their target audience of the benefits of their product. And by playing into familiar horror tropes (see above) like the girl in the shower and the chainsaw-wielding maniac, Lux also sets up the surprise at the end to be even more enjoyable.
But this video's success hinges on the fact that the product — in this case, soap — isn't just shoehorned in. The whole story is built around how the soap inadvertently "saves the skin" of the unaware woman, while also cleaning and moisturising her body.
So at Halloween, don't worry about being something you're not. It's okay just to be yourself.
3. Geico — Reinforce existing branding
In this scariest of seasons, you might think that you need to come up with a new and spookier image (and this has worked for some brands — see Tide below). But in this video Geico shows us that Halloween can also be a great opportunity to reinforce your existing branding.
By taking a funny concept, which everybody has thought about at least once while watching a scary movie, and using it as an opportunity to point out self-evident truths, Geico ties this ad into its previous branding which followed a similar theme.
What do characters do in horror movies? They make poor decisions. What do you do if you want cheaper car insurance? You use Geico.
Rather than reinventing itself, Geico used this video ad to strengthen its brand positioning. Which just goes to show that not everybody has to undergo a scary transformation at Halloween.
4. Tide — Encourage viewers to share
Well, it's not technically a video ad, but Tide's series of horror-themed Vines is some of the best Halloween branding we've ever seen.
Tide used Halloween as a chance to spoof some of the most popular horror movies of all time. In the example above it's The Ring, but they've also created Vines based on Carrie, Psycho and Paranormal Activity.
Not only are these videos short, quick and moreish (it's the nature of the channel) but they also tap into a popular new form of social media to engage with a unique segment of Tide's target audience.
Plus, and best of all, in this example Tide used an explicit Call-to-Action in the Vine description to encourage viewers to spread the word — "Share this video in the next seven days," it reads, in reference again to the film it's spoofing.
5. Dirt Devil — Embrace the occasion
This last video example is probably the most genuinely creepy. It's another nod to another famous film, this time The Exorcist, but this video really goes all out to spook its viewers.
Yes, it ends humorously, with the eventual appearance of the product in question, the Dirt Devil hoover. But this video ad expresses best of all how businesses can benefit from embracing the spirit of Halloween.
By being really quite scary, the video gives viewers what they want most of all at this time of year — a bit of a shock. This is then reversed in its final moments to relieve the tension with comedy and make the product more memorable, as is a running theme in all the videos we've picked.
So there's still a chance to be scary as a business at Halloween (and if you have the right target audience, they'll probably appreciate it). But scares should compliment rather than sabotage your video objective, whether it's increasing brand awareness or showing the benefits of your product or service.
Those were our top 5 most memorable and effective Halloween video ads ever. They all use frights and humour to successfully engage their target audience and express their message, while staying true to the spirit of the occasion. Though it might be too late for Halloween this year, keep these tips in mind for your future (scary or non-scary) video projects!