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Tesco is selling cheap pumpkins and the kids want to go for a walk for once – it must be Halloween. British shoppers are expected to spend £687m on Halloween this year, so it’s no surprise brands are doing their best to get into the spooky season. We’re celebrating here in the Shepper offices by looking back at our five favourite Halloween activations – including one from 2022.

1. Strongbow’s CarnEvil parties (2017)

Halloween is not just for kids these days – indeed it is often one of the biggest party weekends of the year. Strongbow cider leaned into this with its “CarnEvil” campaign. The Halloween themed merch sold alongside the cider to consumers was nice but hardly that different – what we really loved was the kit they sold to pubs so they could host their own Halloween parties. Hospitality needs all the help it can get these days and campaigns like this can really help.

2. Reese’s ‘bad candy’ vending machine (2018)

Reese’s probably see strong sales every Halloween as the overall spend on candy rises – but clearly want to break away from the pack somewhat. In 2018 they made a bet that a lot of kids would actually prefer their candy to the other things they got given during trick or treating, so created a special vending machine where “bad” candy could be traded in for replacements from Reese’s. It might not be very scalable, but it’s a great idea.

3. Snapchat lets you try on costumes in AR (2022)

All too often augmented reality activations rely on customers just being wowed with the technology, and not actually having any use for it. Snapchat, which has some incredibly good augmented reality tech itself, made it actually useful this year with a tool that lets users try on different costumes in the app, see exactly what they would look like in them, and then buying them from the app if they liked them. Good technology paired with a proper use-case  – genius.

4. Stranger Things drive-thru experience (2020)

The pandemic threw a wrench in a lot of people’s plans in 2020, but presented a real challenge to brands who wanted to do physical activations that were also safe. Netflix’s Stranger Things leant into its campy 80s horror vibe and created a huge drive-through experience in LA, allowing fans staying safe in their cars to follow along with a narrative on their car radios while they drove from stop to stop and watched live action performances of key moments from the show’s first three season.

5. Hell Pizza add brains to pizzas (2016)

New Zealand’s Hell Pizza have a brand that looks fairly spooky year-round, so have a challenge in trying to make Halloween special. Back in 2016 they decided to offer customers just want zombies are supposedly always after – brains. Specifically, lamb brains, which could be added to any pizza for free. This activation also looked to educate customers on the fact that many foods that may not always fit the western palette can be very healthy.

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