Brands Position Halloween As Engagement Opportunity With Product Launches & Digital Campaigns

October 9, 2020 Melissa Ledesma

Halloween celebrations this year will experience their own type of masquerade, with large in-person gatherings discouraged and traditional trick or treating unlikely for many. In fact, a recent survey by consumer insights firm Numerator found that 62% of respondents will not be heading door to door on October 31. However, even in 2020, Halloween can be an opportunity for brands to engage with their target audiences. Instead of closing the coffin on Halloween, brands like ColourPop, Hostess and Butterfinger are connecting with their audiences through engaging campaigns and product launches this month. 

ColourPop Dares To Scare With ‘Hocus Pocus’ Inspired Product Line

colourpop cosmetics

With over-the-top makeup, special effects and prosthetics, the beauty industry typically garners profits from Halloween spending. While opportunities for consumers to show off their looks in person will be limited this year, makeup will likely be the easiest way for consumers seeking custom experiences to create unique (Zoom-friendly) looks for their virtual celebrations. 

There are many pop culture Halloween classics, with Disney’s Hocus Pocus a movie that has stood the test of time. According to Variety reporter Rebecca Rubin, more than 2,500 cinemas across the U.S. recently welcomed Hocus Pocus back to the big screen, resulting in $1 million in ticket sales. ColourPop recognized the continued popularity of the Sanderson sisters and the nostalgia Hocus Pocus inspires among consumers. 

On September 30, ColourPop debuted the ColourPop x Hocus Pocus collection on its website. Consumer interest was so high, the ColourPop Shopify store could not handle the volume of web traffic causing the brand’s ecommerce site to crash and pushing the launch to October 1. The ColourPop x Hocus Pocus collection features 12 different eyes, lips and face items inspired by the Sanderson sisters and glitter gel liners as a node to Thackery Binx. Shades from various products are named after famous lines from the movie, like, “Hello, Salem,” “Come Little Children” and “On Toast.” Winne, Sarah and Mary each have their own dedicated palettes for consumers to complete the look of their favorite witches. ColourPop announced the launch of the new collection on it’s Instagram page and quickly received more than 353,000 likes and 15,000 comments. In fact, since the launch, ColourPop Instagram page posts featuring images or videos of the Hocus Pocus collection are the top performing content, averaging more than 117,000 likes per post. 

Hostess Brings Trick Or Treating Indoors With Latest Digital Content Marketing Campaign

In a consumer survey, Hostess found that 83% of consumers “expect to celebrate Halloween differently this year,” as concerns surrounding COVID-19 persist. This month, to keep the Halloween spirit alive, Hostess launched the “Bring Hostess Halloween Home” campaign. “While Halloween will undoubtedly feel different this year, we want consumers to experience the holiday with celebrations that are both joyful and safe. We created ‘Bring Hostess Halloween Home’ to help deliver inspiration through a series of creative solutions and treat ideas that make it easy for consumers to find the joy in Halloween this year,” said Lisa Mathison, director of brand activation for Hostess brands.

For the campaign, Hostess launched a dedicated landing page and partnered with celebrity chef George Duncan to create digital content to help consumers celebrate Halloween at home. Recipes include how to create vampire donettes, using Twinkies to make mummy pops and a guide for building a creepy crawler platter with Hostess favorites. All of the recipes and ideas are kid friendly and designed to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Hostess will leverage content posted on www.HostessCakes.com/Halloween on its social channels, boosting social posts to amplify its efforts. In addition to its first-party digital channels, Hostess also sponsored a digital advertorial in Parade’s online magazine. With the, “Bring Hostess Halloween Home” campaign, Hostess aims to connect with consumers and build relationships, helping consumers make the best of unusual times.   

Candy Brands Prepare For A Unique Halloween Season 

Most were predicting a Halloween candy shopping slump this year, but according to the National Confectioners Association, Halloween candy and chocolate sales were up 13% in September compared to the year prior. Chocolate, specifically, led the charge, as sales jumped 25.3% from the prior year. Less access to dining out and more consumers relying on grocery stores may be contributing to the rise in sales. And while 52% of consumers plan to buy less candy this year than they typically purchase, 62% of consumers intend to purchase candy to enjoy at home instead of purchasing it to give away. Recently, top candy brands like Reese’s began shifting their efforts in anticipation of a unique Halloween season.

Halloween purchase intentions

Hershey’s Aims To Extend Candy Buying Beyond Halloween With Reese’s New Product Launch


Instead of connecting its messaging to Halloween, in September, Reese’s announced the launch of its latest product describing the effects of 2020 on consumer emotions. In a press release introducing Reese’s launch of big cups with pretzels in November, the brand noted, “This year has made the Reese's brand salty, and we're not afraid to admit it.” Reese’s said its big cups with pretzels represent how 2020 makes everyone feel, composed on the outside and “salty on the inside.” In the week leading up to the announcement, Reese’s published snarky and sarcastic tweets on its Twitter. Reese’s marketing strategy for its newest product can help the brand connect with its target audience with empathy and relevancy. Hershey’s decision to hold the product until November, but announce it in September, is clearly an effort to extend consumers’ need to buy candy past October 31. 

Consumers Are Looking For A Reason To Celebrate, And Brands Are Creating Opportunities

Even with classic Halloween celebrations on hold, brands know consumers still want opportunities to feel joy and entertainment as the pandemic persists. The latest campaigns and product launches from major candy brands, beauty brands and CPG pantry staples are examples of sustained efforts to engage consumers with seasonal fun during a time when consumers are looking to brands for solutions amidst uncertainty. 

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About the Author

Melissa Ledesma

An innovative problem solver by nature, Melissa Ledesma is both experienced and passionate about the digital marketing industry. She has held a number of high-level positions within the real estate, mortgage, entertainment and digital advertising industries, including Director of PR and Business Development at NJ Lenders Corp. and Director of Communications & Government Affairs at Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. As Director of Content & Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Melissa demonstrates a strategic, creative and tactical approach when handling the thought leadership programs and marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its family of brands. She manages all conferences, sponsorships and event execution and plays a pivotal role in the creation of written, digital and video content for all campaigns. Melissa has consistently positioned the team at DMS as experts in performance marketing across multiple industries.

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