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Artifacts: The Ghost of Halloween Future

The past is gone, the present is teaching us, and the future is built on what we learn from it.

A predictable industry used purposeful pivots that tapped into the emotion of joy, generating loyalty, and driving deeper consumer engagement that will serve their businesses and brands well for years to come.

What this means for you and your business

We’re living through an incredibly unique and emotionally taxing time. If your brand can drive deeper engagement and generate positive memories for consumers, you will connect to their emotional brains for life and access nostalgia during a turbulent time when consumers are starving for it.

Halloween 2020

No industry or activity has been left untouched by COVID-19, including the candy industry and their main activation: Halloween. Throughout history, chocolate/candy has proven “recession-proof” because it’s affordable and provides a luxurious experience tied to happy memories.  This year, 80% of people will be buying the same amount of Halloween candy – if not more (Suzy 2020). However, while sales may remain steady, brand activations have had to break the mold.

Reese’s Candy Converter

Photo credit: Clio Awards (

In 2018, Reese’s uncovered data that found “90 percent of Americans said they either had traded or wish they could trade unwanted candy.” In response, they created The Candy Converter, a machine encouraging consumers to exchange their unwanted candy for Reese’s treat. The campaign generated more than 1,300 media placements in the three days leading up to Halloween and brand mentions on social media were up 600% from the daily average* (PR Week). They saw a need, moved to meet it, and drove deeper engagement with their brand because of it.

*Without any paid media support, Reese’s 12 social media posts generated a collective 536,000 engagements, including 352,500 video views on Twitter, 70,500 video views on YouTube, 5,500 likes on Instagram, 1,300 shares on Facebook, and 5,600 retweets.

Mars Wrigley Treat Town

Photo Credit: Mars Wrigley (

The Mars Wrigley candy company was proactive in reimagining Halloween for their consumers, creating the first-ever virtual trick-or-treating experience. Consumers can visit digital attractions, interact with friends, and access health tips for a Covid-conscious Halloween. Knowing consumers wouldn’t be able to engage with their brand in traditional fashion, they shifted gears to provide consumers with what they value; connection, safety, and experience.

Dunkin’ Costumes

Photo credit: Dunkin’ (

Dunkin’ expanded its brand reach this year by creating Dunkin’ Halloween costumes; a creative way to keep their brand top of mind and involve their target demographic.

Life stage and circumstance

As a child, Halloween is all about costumes and candy. As a teenager, you’re attending parties. Parents participate with their children. There is an untapped market among young adults and empty nesters for companies to activate. Holidays are emotionally connected moments, changing shape in the consumer lifecycle. Conditions will always shift, but people always want a reason to celebrate. They just need it to suit their life stage and circumstances.

As we head into the holiday season, the opportunity to drive deeper engagement with your consumers is there. Connect to your purpose to create experiences that tap into the emotional brain of your consumers.

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