Here at Astley Media, we’re all about tech.
As a Supporting Partner of the 2021 Tech South West Awards, we’re incredibly lucky to be immersed in such a vibrant community of innovators, disruptors, and industry champions.
But how are brands using tech in this year’s seasonal campaigns?
In the run-up to Halloween 2021, our intern Ruben Astley takes a look at the top ten Halloween campaigns using tech as a driving force behind their big ideas. Spooky!
Pokémon GO – #PokemonGOHalloween
As Pokémon GO turns 5 this year (crazy, right?) developer Niantic have pulled out all the stops to ensure the milestone is full of limited-time VR experiences to keep the game fresh and interesting for its 70,000,000 active players. As part of the ongoing storyline surrounding Pokémon GO, the Season of Mischief sees new quests, achievements and objectives within the game – leading up to the introduction of a new Pokémon – the Galarian Slowking.
In the Halloween Event, players will be able to interact with uniquely costumed versions of archetypal Pokémon such as Pikachu, and never-before-featured Pokémon will debut within the app. Of course, this great content won’t be delivered straight into the players’ hands – they will have to work for it, spending hours within the app, grinding on challenges, research projects and travelling around physically to find their Pokémon.
The campaign has been hitting the Pokémon GO socials under the #PokemonGOHalloween hashtag, generating a massive hype around the event and encouraging players to ‘Get up and GO’. Creepers!
Upland – Spirit Halloween
Image via: Upland – Rebuild the World.
Continuing with the gaming trend, next up is Upland’s collaboration with Spirit Halloween. For the uninitiated, Upland is a blockchain-powered online game based on an alternate reality wherein players interact with a scale map of the world, ‘buying, selling, trading and collecting properties, developing them, building structures, and creating real businesses that provide products or services.’ Each ownable asset in the game equates to a real-life non-fungible token (or NFT), which, once the game has passed its ‘beta’ stage, will be sell-able for real US dollars.
More simply, Spirit Halloween is the world’s biggest Halloween retail company – specialising in all things ghastly and gruesome. This year, Spirit Halloween is partnering with Upland to provide in-game NFT assets, starting with five Halloween-themed digital game pieces called Block Explorers. Players are encouraged to collect these pieces in game, then trade them with other players for a variety of in-game assets. The collaboration will also feature NFT tokens of some of Spirit’s most well-known characters – such as their infamous Jack the Reaper mascot – found during ‘Halloween Hunts’.
We appreciate this innovative campaign because it’s one of the first we’re seeing utilising NFTs, integrating them into a playable game. We think that this will become more common in the future, as NFTs offer the ability to verify, share, and create, in the digital age.
Nextdoor – Treat Map
Image via: Halloween Treat Map – Nextdoor
Upland isn’t the only tech brand spooking up its map feature this Halloween season. Neighbourhood social media platform Nextdoor has pulled together with confectionary brand Reese’s in the US to bring back its Treat Map for Halloween 2021.
Throughout the month of October, the Reeses-branded Treat Map encourages users to interact with Nextdoor’s map feature, selecting one of three icons to display over their home within the app. According to the Nextdoor blog, users will select the ‘candy’ icon if they are handing out treats, the ‘haunted decor’ icon if they are putting on a frightening Halloween display, or the ‘ghost’ icon if they are choosing to do both. Nextdoor says that users can use the Treat Map to ‘find the best streets for treats and plan a festive Halloween night sight-seeing route’.
We like this Halloween campaign for many reasons. It brings trick-or-treating into the 21st century, integrating digital and physical elements into one streamlined experience, while encouraging people to engage with their neighbourhoods in a really interesting, interactive way.
Snapchat – Halloween Kills AR Lens
Would it be a seasonal tech list without a Snapchat lens? We think not. This Halloween, Snapchat is joining forces with Universal Studios to promote Halloween Kills – the latest instalment in the Halloween film franchise – by creating a spooky augmented reality lens. The lens features the antagonist of the franchise, Michael Myers, covered in blood and surrounded by fire, creeping towards the camera with his weapon of choice in hand. This interactive lens is sure to enthral Halloween fans, creating a buzz around the film and encouraging viewers to get involved.
This campaign stood out to us because it was captured with volumetric video, a kind of AR capture similar to that used in animations and video games. This means that when you see Mike Myers in the app, you’re seeing the real deal, captured on video in a Hollywood studio. Fans will have access to the Halloween branded lens, which also features a standard face filter, throughout the 2021 Halloween season.
Dorothy House Hospice
Image via: Monster Halloween Hunt
For our fifth spot, we’re going a bit more local with Dorothy House’s 2021 Monster Halloween Hunt. Dorothy House is a Hospice Care charity which gives care and support to patients, carers and their families across Bath, North East Somerset and parts of Wiltshire.
Throughout October half term, Dorothy House are hosting a Halloween QR hunt wherein players follow one of three trails across Bath, Chippenham and Trowbridge. After downloading the trail map for £5, players can scan QR codes along the way to reveal unique Halloween characters, with the aim of tracking them all. Each player who downloads the map is instantly entered into a prize draw for a £20 M&S voucher, while all entries are donated to the Hospice charity.
We love this campaign because it offers families a fun Halloween activity – led by interactive QR codes – all for the benefit of Dorothy House Hospice.
Did you know that Fanta is one of the most popular drinks during the Halloween season? To celebrate Halloween this year, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners have adorned their Fanta Orange and Fanta Orange Zero packaging with Halloween decor in the form of gruesome zombie and pumpkin mouths.
Until the 31st of October, consumers are invited to scan QR codes on the limited-edition packs to find out whether they’ve won one of a range of prizes, from cash, to movie night packages, to home entertainment systems. Those who don’t win will receive exclusive digital content to scare their friends and family with instead.
This campaign is interesting because it essentially transforms the standard product branding into a spookily themed treat with a basic change of print. The integrated QR code is a simple but brilliant way to encourage shoppers to interact with the product.
Escape Hunt – Sanctum
Escape Hunt is an escape room experience with a VR twist, and this year they’re delivering a special Halloween-themed treat – which is sure to spook even the hardiest of thrill-seekers.
For a limited time, players are encouraged to ‘face horrifying secrets and solve ancient puzzles in an attempt to reveal the darkest of mysteries in a haunted abandoned monastery’ in Escape Hunt’s creepiest encounter yet.
We’re drawn to this campaign because there’s been an upward trend in escape rooms across the country in recent years, and this is a brilliant way to blend reality with mystery, creating a unique Halloween experience for players using VR.
The KISS Haunted House Party
For Halloween 2021 KISS Radio and Nandos are delivering the sauce with another Haunted House Party. Encouraged to download the KISS Kube app, listeners will be treated to exclusive performances from acts such as Ed Sheeran, Anne-Marie and Becky Hill throughout the week leading up to Halloween, with an ‘epic finale’ planned for Halloween night.
This is another fine example of blending a stand-alone product (in this instance the KISS Kube app) with a Halloween event, encouraging users to download and interact with the app while initiating conversations around the brand.
As part of their Halloween efforts this year, leading health and beauty retailer Superdrug have been posting halloween-themed makeup tutorials on Instagram in collaboration with influencers, models, and celebrities. All of the makeup and equipment used in the tutorials can be purchased from Superdrug, and followers are encouraged to replicate the looks themselves and post them under the hashtag #superdrugspooklight.
Additionally, on the 20th of October Superdrug hosted a virtual make-up masterclass and Q&A with influencer-beautician Dolli Glam via Eventbrite. At £15 a ticket, participants received ‘£35 of free products and some spooky snacks delivered straight to [their] doorstep’ from Superdrug and NYX, so they could follow along in real time. After the event, participants who posted their look under the #superdrugspooklight hashtag were entered into a draw to win the entire makeup collection featured in the video.
We think this is a great campaign because it encourages followers of all skill levels to pick up their makeup brushes and get involved virtually, no matter where they are.
Starburst: Little Lad
Image via: Starburst Commercial
Last on our list (but certainly not least) is Starburst with their Little Lad Halloween costume campaign. The Little Lad refers to a strange TV advert from 2007 in which a costumed man (the ‘Little Lad’) overhears a conversation about the then-new Berries & Cream Starburst flavour. The man then springs into a strange song and dance (the ‘little lad dance’) and the advert ends leaving the audience none the wiser, but certainly interested in the new flavour!
In a behind-the-scenes video from the same time period, the man explains that his mother, who had since passed away, used to feed him berries and cream if he ‘did the little lad dance’. This fever dream of an advert lay dormant on the internet until recently, when it was picked up by TikTok users and turned into one of the many digital trends of 2021, accumulating over 1 billion views to date.
Doubling down on this trend, Starburst asked fans to recreate the original “Berries and Cream” song and dance and submit it on TikTok, using the hashtags #StarburstLittleLad and #Sweepstakes. Between the 30th of September and the 7th of October, the hashtag was viewed more than 14 million times, and 20 lucky Starburst fans received their very own Little Lad costume in time for Halloween.
What did you think of our Halloween top picks?