4 Chillingly BAD Examples of Halloween Content Marketing

4 Chillingly BAD Examples Of Halloween Content Marketing

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 20 Oct 2016 by Matthew McKillop
Content Marketing

Trick Or Treat! …Ok, Trick This Time

Last week we posted 4 Scarily Good Examples of Halloween Content Marketing, this week we’re looking at the other side of the coin. Sometimes holidays can inspire some eerily clever marketing campaigns, but sometimes it can go shockingly bad, causing brands to outright embarrass themselves online.

Let’s look at some examples:

Walmart Fat Girl Costumes

#1 Walmart’s ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ Blunder

Whilst this isn’t strictly content, it is worth a mention – Come Halloween time, most superstores are selling large quantities of fancy-dress costumes. In 2014, when a member of American megacorporation Walmart’s web team was set loose on naming their new ‘plus size’ Halloween costume category and decided to call it ‘Fat Girl Costumes’, there was a huge backlash on social media. Walmart was quick to respond to this situation, however, releasing the statement “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We are working to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.” Needless to say; one employee will have been in a lot of trouble!

#2 RBS’s ‘Tales From The Vault’ Backlash

Back in 2010 the Royal Bank of Scotland promised they would not close branches, even if they were the last bank in town. In 2015 they released an advert describing some odd going-ons in their Fort William branch. This unexpectedly sparked several comments on social media, criticising the bank for closing down branches around the nation in previous months, leaving many buildings abandoned. One commenter wrote:

This is not voices from the past but a warning of the future. Look out Fort William, they will be closing your branch shortly just like they closed the one in Dufftown.

Scary indeed! Especially for the RBS…


#3 Fox’s ‘Does This Axe Make My Head Look Small?’ Sleepy Hollow Advert

This looks like a perfectly normal advert right? It checks all the boxes; it has humor, a good hashtag, it’s informative and is attention-grabbing. So what’s bad about it? 1 word – timing.

On the same day, Fox released this advert, terrorist organisation ISIS made the news headlines once again due to another journalist beheading. Many of these beheadings were in the public eye around the same time of year. So why did Fox think trending a hashtag #headlessday was a good idea?

Make sure you are clued up with what’s going on in the world and already being talked about on social media before you release an advert.

#4 Verizon’s ‘Star Wars Halloween Commercial’

While this advert isn’t particularly offensive, it is just plain bad. With more product placements than a Transformers movie, Verizon’s Star Wars Halloween ad depicts a family hunting for sweets on Halloween whilst using their smartphones and tablets. The acting is terrible and the blatant product promotion is painfully obvious, so much so that even a pug in a Darth Vadar costume couldn’t save the day. Cringe!


Whilst Halloween can be a fantastic time of year to promote your products and services, just be sure to learn from the mistakes companies have made over the years. Double check the wording on your website, don’t bring up subjects that are particularly sensitive, keep up with the headlines and just consider how an advert looks from your customer’s point of view (too much product placement is a bad thing!)

If you haven’t read it already, or just don’t want to scroll up to the first link; have a look at 4 Scarily Good Examples of Halloween Content Marketing and learn how it’s really done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *