Brand mascots are perennial Halloween costume favorites (count the number of Angry Birds you spot trick or treating this year!). But just when you thought there coudn't possibly be another way for commercial culture to tap into Halloween, major brands are haunting the occasion with spooktacular tie-ins, including the annual Halloween Google Doodle on the Google homepage today.
OnStar, Kraft, Progressive Insurance, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Honda are among the legions of brands with Halloween promotions this year. It adds up to a phantasmagoric overload that makes it really difficult for any single brand, promotion or Halloween-themed marketing campaign to stand out from the rest, especially with so many Halloween messages in commercials and TV programming. But it's all in good fun, and hasn't stopped an array of brand marketers from joining the fun.
GM's OnStar, for example, will spend the day offering a Monster Dodger service that will help drivers "avoid zombies, vampires, werewolves, witches ghosts" and other ghouls that are "located" at sites around the country. "Specially trained" OnStar advisors are helping drivers — lots of parents picking up their kids from school today, for example — steer clear of the monsters in their midst. And "extending" the OnStar brand in some way.
Kraft is trying to horn in on the candy trade this Halloween by promoting the horror-inducing possibilities of Jell-O. For example, through today, the brand is offering a free Jell-O Halloween Brain Mold that comes with an eight-page recipe booklet for creating ghoulish brains out of Jell-O, including a greenish Frankenstein version. The joy must be in the making because it doesn't look like something kids actually might want to eat — except perhaps on Halloween.
For the second year in a row, Progressive is promoting its Dress Like Flo mascot campaign, with a section on its website dedicated to videos on how to dress like the insurance company's perky red-lipsticked customer-service doyenne for trick-or-treating.
And other brands have been making mainly social media tie-ins to Halloween. Mike's Hard Lemonade, for instance, is trying to get itself served at holiday parties, so its Halloween promotion included a Facbook application where consumers could "zombify" photos and share them on their page.
Honda is treating fans to Halloween-themed Facebook content and recognition, too. Last Halloween, fans created Honda-inspired Jack-o’-Lanterns and posted them on Honda’s Facebook wall. The response was so overwhelming that the “True Love Can Be Scary” gallery was created.
This year, in the latest installment of the Honda Loves You Back campaign, the automaker created custom, hand-carved pumpkins featuring the faces of fans who posted Honda-themed pumpkin photos last year. According to Honda's press release, "Partnering with Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, we were able to produce an extraordinary likeness, and love our fans back in the unusual and unexpected ways they have come to know."
All this amounts to a lot of effort to penetrate the increasingly satiated Halloween-themed promotional market. Then again, the brands can drag a lot of this stuff out next fall. Does Halloween ever really age?