3 Spooktacular Halloween PR Campaign Mishaps

By Irmina Bugaj Published: 29 October, 2021 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Halloween PR

Keep your eyes wide open, as they are already here.

They surround you, closing in on you, counting your shallow breaths before you make the final sigh – advertising wonders. Among those who dare to scavenge through the most gruesome of them, beware, as you might not come back from the journey the same as you once were. It’s the land where there’s no rest for the wicked and not a save for a pure soul.

Don’t let them fool you, unravel their disguise and learn from all the blunders. Bury your fears, embrace your demons, walk through the looking glass, and experience the bloodcurdling nooks of treacherous advertising campaigns.

Fox News’ Devilish Context Blunder

Why not set a special day of beheading? Fox’s marketing team thought it was the perfect way of promoting the “Sleepy Hollow” appearance on their channel’s schedule.

As a Halloween’s preparation, it might appear as a clever piece of piece advertising, right? If you think about it, it checks all the boxes; it has humor, a good hashtag, it’s unique and attention-catching. So what’s grizzly dreadful about it? All seems perfect, except the one thing – timing.

It must have been a truly gloomy and ghoulish day, as Fox’s release date of this advert aligned perfectly with the beheading of journalist Steven Stoflof, committed by ISIS. The terrorist organization has already made the news headlines numerous times during this time of year, catching the public eye in the most horrid way.

You may wonder why back then it didn’t show up as a red light for Fox’s PR professionals? We’ll never know, but as promoting hashtag #headlessday might have come across as a whip-smart idea, it was all ruined by the time and context of its launch.

Headless Day Campaign

What’s to take from here? The context is the key. In other words, make sure you are up to date with what’s going on in the world. Simple as that in theory, it’s challenging enough when it comes to practice, so whenever you plan to launch a creative ad campaign, double-check whether you’re not making a grand branding faux pas.

Spine-chilling Environmental Warning

All eyes on Volkswagen! We all know the story behind the emission issue, but many might not have taken a deeper, petrifying look at the shiverish straight-forward Halloween campaign made by GreenPeace the same year. Here we stand before spookishly smoking Jack O’Lantern with VW logo carved in. Is it a bold move? Is it too straightforward? Does it bring a thrilling breeze of upcoming PR thunderstorms? Maybe. But GreenPeace wanted to make a solid point, using Halloween trends not to let us forget what Volkswagen did with their emission readings.

Unlike Fox, Greenpeace stayed aware of the social context and took advantage of it, using the recent emission scandal to pressure the public to join a campaign demanding a contribution to solving what it calls the crisis of air pollution. Moreover, they were more daring, pointing Volkswagen to contribute to this pro-electrical growth saying, “VW tricked us. Now they should treat us. Tell VW to develop a mass-market electric car that families can afford.”

What’s the moral of this story? If you’re a GreenPeace you might benefit from acting on the spine-chilling emotional, direct communication. Still, as a growing small business owner, more likely, you wouldn’t like to attack your local competitors, bringing the knife-cutting dense atmosphere to your neighborhood.

What we found out is that there is a “Sexy Bernie Sanders” Halloween costume on the market in preparation for this upcoming spooky season, and guess what – you 100% don’t need it.

Dolls Kill is an online hair-raising fast fashion to-do retailer, building its PR reputation based on various costumes and decorations. What lures the customers’ attention is that most of their outfits are as weird as ghoulish and disturbing.

#HotBernieGirl costume is inspired by the meme that went viral earlier this year. It rose out of an image from Inauguration Day, where Bernie Sanders, separating himself from his highly ornamented political companions, dressed in the most comfy-looking coat and mittens.

We get it. We really do – it might have been fun while it lasted. But creating a sexified version of this trend brings Halloween’s joyful experience to another level of spine-tingling moonlight terror none of us need. The new Halloween Bernie Sanders disguise from Dolls Kill’s Trickz N’ Treatz collection cost 85$, and as expected, the costume is generating buzz on the internet — for better or worse.

No matter the publicity or organic reach, don’t get yourself fooled – it’s not the PR renown you want to aim for. And that’s for two reasons: You don’t want your business to get involved in politics, and you need to stay as far as possible from sexifying your PR campaigns. So don’t think twice and put the Sexy Sanitizer or Sexy Barnie Sanders costumes on your Halloween’s Black List.

Final Fright

Live the thrill and breathe in the foulest essence of the year, as average expected spending on Halloween is estimated to be over 102$. This spine-chilling amount only shows how important this event is for customers. Therefore, it’s even more essential to startups and SMBs business owners. Use the momentum to accelerate your business learning from the best, the worst, the boldest, the spookiest of them all. Stay creative, but above all, maintain respectful and considerate.