Happy Halloweb: A Branded Halloween Online

October 28, 2010, 3:31 pm by

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the end of October: That Fall/Winter span of Halloween, Thanksgiving and what I like to call the “December giving holidays.”  Halloween just happens to be my favorite day of the bunch, if not for the grandeur of coming up with a costume, than for my dorky fondness of observing how different brands seasonally cater their digital presence.

Sears, for example, has made it easy to find love or a new friend for the holidays… if you’re a zombie. As part of its seasonal marketing efforts, Sears has given its website a Halloween makeover, available in two languages: English or Zombian. With instructional videos on Zombie fitness and fashion, as well as a gift guide for new friends in the afterlife (which can be customized in the Zombie Friend Maker), the holiday season has never been easier – or less lonely – for the undead.

Ben & Jerry’s made a Halloween website as well, complete with lightning effects, spooky organ tunes and ghost sounds.  They even highlighted their Flavor Graveyard, which poses the question: Did anyone else manage to miss the Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor?

Halloween has its own appeal for every generation, as some older celebrators tend to view the holiday with less of a sweet tooth and a greater inclination to party.  There are the site designs that appeal to all ages – like Ben & Jerry’s – and there are the likes of Magic Hat, whose website has been converted to a graveyard/drive-in populated by skeletons and witches serving them beer. Users can click on the movie screen to learn more about seasonal beers and contests, or to watch a short film inspired by Magic Hat Hex Ourtoberfest.

My attention was soon brought to Facebook, where I very happily came upon a page for the “Count Down to the Great Pumpkin”: An installment of the Peanuts 60th Anniversary celebration, fully equipped with a contest landing page.   Brilliant!  If a sixty-year-old comic strip can leverage the Halloween Facebook combo, anyone can, right?

It’s a simple enough concept: take one of the world’s favorite holidays – the one with which people tend to have the most fun – and temporarily build a Web presence around it.  These promotions are wickedly fun, but they fall into categories independent of those that typically shoot to stardom during Halloween, like candy.  But even on Facebook, I noticed that only one candy company, Reese’s, has a special, spooky landing page.

On the contrary, several non-confectionery products are driving Facebook traffic to Halloween landing pages, including the aforementioned Magic Hat, PetSmart and Domino’s Pizza, whose “Halloween Fun” tab contains instructions on building a pizza slice costume.

In a period of time when folks largely have candy and costumes on the brain, perhaps these companies simply don’t need the attention and, therefore, can conserve the cost of a frightfully decked-out site for the year’s remaining holidays.  Supposedly, the same could be said for candy retailers like pharmacies and supermarkets who, upon closer inspection, also have a lackluster Halloween presence.

I’m curious to see if this is a trending pattern this year: What will become of butterball.com in the days leading up to Thanksgiving?  Or manischewitz.com during the eight nights of Hanukkah?  And, moreover, what will the above-featured companies come up with next?  Throughout these last few months of the year that are jam-packed with holidays, I’m eager to see how brands of all varieties create a digital celebration and, come January 1, whose interactive cheer stands out among the rest.

Hear that, Dracula?  It’s practically a digital bloodbath.

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