Unlike normal people, I haven’t spent the last couple of weeks of my professional life surfing the web, half-scrolling obsessively on Instagram, Giphy, Reddit, or any other time-destroying platform we love-hate these days. No, no, I have spent my days watching what seemed to be an endless stream of Halloween commercials in search of the best ten videos of 2019.
I started out with only one clear criterion in mind: it’s Halloween, so the ads that make the list must tell a story.
I must confess, though: I have failed. There are only seven 2019 video marvels presented within this article. The other two clips have made their way into this list because they still have a lot of traction online, even though a couple of years have passed since their releases. I pondered carefully over a few dozen other commercials, but they were either not that good or just too old for a 2019 Halloween Ads list.
Ladies and gents, without further delay, I have prepared for your wonder and delight (dishonor-driven gulp) NINE big-brand Halloween ads that are scary good:
1. Spotify’s Halloween Reminder for 2019: “Stay Scary!”
Johnny Cash was a b@d@$$! His San Quentin prison recording both scared and inspired the world. For Halloween, Spotify set out to remind us that “the best artists have always scared people.” Let’s celebrate them!
2. GEICO Insurance: A Witch for a Third Roommate
For Halloween 2019, Geico went all out with a $47.8 million TV ad-spend budget. They are by far the top media spenders for Halloween in the US, with Reese’s taking second place with a measly $10.6 million budget. The ad does not need a lot of explanations since it is a clean, clear, and well-balanced execution of a tongue-in-cheek extreme-consequences concept: a witch steps into the real world and starts turning people into felines.
3. Skittles Suggests that We Annoy the Rainbow for Halloween 2019
There’s something about Matty Cardarople sitting in that huge pot and annoying the hell out of a witch that makes me want to binge on a bag of Skittles. I am not sure how they pulled it off, but this one manages to be fun without feeling artificial or cartoonish. Look, Geico, this is how a real witch steps into the real world: with a milk glass and a collection of pill bottles on the kitchen table!
4. Reese’s Trick for Halloween 2019
Since we’ve mentioned Reese’s, here is an uber-short ad that surely does the trick:
5. Direct Line’s 2019 Halloween… Torment
We cheated a little with this one because the insurance company Direct Line is not exactly a major (cough… global) brand. However, it is huge in the UK, and this Saatchi & Saatchi ad proposes precisely the sort of storytelling traits that make a Halloween ad great. Also, it reminds us that, sometimes, just when you thought it was over, the car crash – or scrape? – comes back to haunt you.
That said, BOO!
6. Burger King: All-Time Troll King
No Halloween Ads roundup can exclude Burger King and their frighteningly expert McDonald’s troll. Although this year they seem to have held back on their Halloween marketing investments, Burger King is the undefeated champion of Halloween ads, with its 2017 hit campaign that scared America and the world.
Poking some fun at the face of McDonald’s, Burger King hit a home run with this tantalizing invitation: “Come as a clown, eat like a king.” For one night, the unassuming clowns of the world got free whoppers and, as The New York Times ever so eloquently put it, Halloween never was and never will be the same.
In 35 countries across the world, in more than 1,500 restaurants, 110,000 clowns showed up for their free whoppers, and they all got them. Despite the free whopper bonanza, global sales increased by 15% and restaurant traffic increased by 21%. The campaign generated north of 2 billion media impressions and more than $22 million in earned media.
A shoutout to Lola MullenLowe, the Madrid-based agency that created the campaign. It was and still is a… whopping success.
Unfortunately, no 2019 Burger King Halloween ad made our list. Perhaps next Halloween, Burger King, perhaps next Halloween.
7. RIU Plaza España Hotel 2019 Launch
Lola MullenLowe also created the next ad on our list, the 2019 Halloween launch ad of the RIU Plaza España Hotel. Tongue-in-cheek storytelling, urban legend, and creativity came together in this ad campaign and, although the numbers are not in just yet, all the ingredients of a successful hotel launch ad have been added to the mix.
8. Google NEST’s 2019 Call for Spooky Halloween Voices
This one made the list because it features a select cast from a wonderful community and a delightful backstage story. Kindly note that the ghost in the RIU Plaza España Hotel ad got cast in this ad, as well, although they did have to use a voice-over artist for at least one of the two ads.
Anyhow, you rock, ghost! It looks like you were born to die to get this gig:
9. Skittles – The Bite-Size Horror Ad that Made History
I saved the best one for the end. This one is already a classic, although it was released only a couple of years ago. Ad critics point out that there is no clear connection between the short film and the brand, so it cannot technically be called an ad, but who cares?
If nothing else, this is Skittles’ gift to the world. It is an awesome “Happy Halloween from Skittles!”
In this bite-size horror short by Skittles, things get eerie during a woman’s elevator ride after work. The loopy horror story is splendid because it uses contemporary-dance-inspired moves to unravel itself. This one is a must: