2014 Halloween Advertising Trends

Tricks of the season

From major retailers to QSRs, advertisers across a range of industries use the momentum of Halloween to spice up their ad campaigns—incorporating spooky themes into creative to appeal to consumers. To see how advertisers allocated their budgets towards the frightful holiday, Kantar Media used our AdScope reporting tool to track all ads in September and October (through 10/26/14) that used the words Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, Spooky, Scary, Boo, or had imagery of Jack-o-Lanterns, Skeletons, Scary Creatures, etc. and were generally evocative of Halloween.

Halloween across the mix

This year advertisers spent $47 million on Halloween-themed messaging. While investments in TV Halloween creative decreased by 25% to $32 million from the same period last year, advertisers increased investments in magazines ($6 million) and local radio ($2 million) by 18% and 31% respectively from last year. Here’s a glance at media mix by the numbers:

Halloween Media Mix 

The spookiest brands in the game

Walmart spent the most on Halloween-themed creative this year ($5 million) followed by Subway ($4.2 million) and Hobby Lobby ($3 million). The top candy advertisers were Skittles ($2.8 million) and Jolly Rancher ($1.9 million).

Top Halloween Advertisers 

Advertisers like Walmart and Skittles pushed ads for candy, costumes, and party supplies—traditional components of the Halloween fest. Other advertisers created product offerings and packaging in theme with the spooky occasion: Cheetos ran a TV ad for their “Cheetos Bag of Bones” in creepy skeleton shapes. Lunchables ran a magazine ad for a green monster-themed packaged lunch. IHOP promoted their October “Scary Face Pancakes” (free on Halloween day!), encouraging diners to create their own ghoulish pancakes!

Ihop Haloween Ad
IHOP TV Ad, 10/20/14

Other advertisers tied their brands into the holiday in less traditional ways. JCPenney ran an ad for its “JCPenney Monster Sale”, using the holiday as a sales event to drive shoppers to stores for regular apparel and housewares. Subway ran a TV ad campaign reminding viewers to “stay in shape” for Halloween costumes like “attractive nurse”, “viking princess warrior”, and “foxy fullback”—probably one of the few brands that encouraged healthy eating leading up to an indulgent holiday of sweets.

JCP Haloween Ad
JC Penney TV Ad, 10/21/14

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