What is more terrifying — a creepy clown, taking an elevator ride with zombies or an Iron Maiden Angry Bird? Read on to find out as brands put a Halloween spin on tried-and-true marketing tactics by ramping up the scare factor to varying degrees.
Burger King brings out the (very creepy) clowns in Halloween dig at McDonald’s
The rundown: On Halloween night, select Burger King restaurant locations in the U.S. will give a free Whopper to customers who come in dressed as a clown from 7 p.m. to close, the company announced in a news release. The stunt was partially inspired by Google Trends data that show clowns are the third most sought-after Halloween costume idea this year.
However, the promotion — hitting Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Austin and Salt Lake City — will be limited to the first 500 guests only. To drum up hype for the effort, Burger King released a 90-second spot on YouTube showing a man having some creepy, circus-themed encounters on a night bike ride. The chain is also encouraging fans to share their freaky getups with the hashtag #ScaryClownNight on social media, tagging the official @BurgerKing account.
“We don’t usually talk about clowns,” Alex Macedo, Burger King’s North American president, said in a statement. “But for this Halloween, come dressed as a clown to eat like a king.”
The results: Who says great marketing needs to be subtle? Burger King’s clearly having a fun time clowning McDonald’s with a push that puts a spooky spin on the rival’s long-time brand mascot Ronald (the photo file shared in the news release even has a ‘Ronald’ tag in its URL).
This isn’t the first Halloween where BK’s turned up the heat on its competition. Last year, it covered a restaurant in Queens, New York, with a massive sheet as the “ghost” of McDonald’s, with a sign that read “Booooooo! Just kidding, we still flame grill our burgers. Happy Halloween.” The 2017 dig is even more on-trend, coming on the heels of the massively popular horror film “It,” which is centered around a familiar looking clown that terrorizes children in small-town Maine.
Plenty of people are sure to be putting on their best white makeup and rubber noses this season, per the Google Trends findings, meaning Burger King might actually drive some serious foot traffic on Oct. 31. It can also spin some timely user-generated content out of the #ScaryClownNight hashtag on social media. It’s not the only brand to take this approach to the holiday: Dunkin’ Donuts is running its own costume contest via Instagram.
Fanta’s scary elevator ride takes experiential marketing up a level
The rundown: Mall and amusement park visitors in the U.K. can take a scary four-minute elevator ride courtesy of Coca-Cola brand Fanta that leverages virtual reality, sound, lifelike rumbling and whooshes of air to create a 4-D experience simulating the scary things that happen on the way to a Halloween party after the elevator seemingly breaks down and stops at different floors. Those unable to visit the Westfield mall or Thorpe Park for “Fanta: The 13th Floor” can go online to experience a 360-degree video, which can be found on YouTube and the Fanta website. Online video and paid social are also being used to drive awareness.