Halloween has been one of the most popular holidays in the United States for decades, and it lends itself well to creating spooky and funny advertisements that festively promote brand awareness. Of course, it comes as no surprise that candy commercials rule the roost during the trick-or-treating season, but there are a plethora of other companies that have excelled at showcasing their creativity and engaging their target audience over the years with their Halloween ads.
With that said, here are 10 of the best Halloween commercials of all time.
1. Snickers’ “Halloween Grocery Store Lady”
This commercial debuted in 2010, and admittedly, it was a little creepy! The premise revolved around a female shopper who was accosted by a bizarre looking 10-foot-tall costumed woman as she made her way down the supermarket candy aisle. There were two kids in the costume (one on top of the other), and their goal was to try to convince the woman, Mrs. Jensen, who lives in their neighborhood, that all trick-or-treaters love Snickers.
As she neared the shelves, the kid on the top pushed bags and bags of Snickers in Mrs. Jensen’s shopping cart. However, before long she got freaked out and headed back up the aisle. This video actually went viral on YouTube and was featured on BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, among other websites.
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ “Frankenstein’s Lab”
In recent years, Reese’s has featured its “Nothing Screams Halloween Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter” commercial with a cackling peanut butter cup, but back in 1986, they created a spooky commercial showing the genesis of the peanut butter cup.
Like Frankenstein himself, the great combination of milk chocolate and peanut butter was created in the laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein. However, it was Frankenstein who combined the two great tastes; unfortunately, no one acknowledged his tasty creation, and it was left to Reese’s to share it with the world.
3. Pizza Hut’s “Pizza Head’s Trick or Treat”
In the mid-1990s, Pizza Hut ran a series of commercials featuring “Pizza Head,” a piece of pizza which had a face made out of pizza toppings. Based on Saturday Night Live’s “The Mr. Bill Show,” Pizza Head was a Claymation-type character who would repeatedly get into a pickle and have to avoid his nemesis, a pizza cutter named “Steve.”
During the 16-episode series, there were a couple of Halloween-themed commercials—“Pizza Head’s Trick or Treat” and “Pizza Head Gets Goosebumps”—that were quite morbid, much like the others in the series. But it was the kooky amateurishness that made these commercials so memorable and silly.
4. General Mills’ Monster Cereals
What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a bowl or two of Count Chocula, Franken Berry, or Boo-Berry? From the early 1970s through 2009 these cereals gave breakfast lovers a taste of Halloween throughout the year. However, since 2010, most stores have only offered the three cereals around Halloween.
Needless to say, the Monster Cereal commercials had the most success during the Halloween season and featured the cartoon characters Count, based on Bela Lugosi; Frank, based on Boris Karloff; and Boo, based on Peter Lorre. In addition, there were two other cereals—Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy—that ran for a limited number of years. Even today, the Monster Cereals remain a well-known piece of American pop culture.
5. M&M’s “Trick or Treat”
Since the mid-1990s, we’ve seen the dynamic duo of the Red and Yellow M&M in a series of commercials that essentially revitalized the M&M’s brand. Who can forget the Christmas-themed commercial during which Red and Yellow bump into Santa on Christmas Eve? Both Santa and Red are shocked that the other exists and they both faint in disbelief.
But another memorable commercial in this long and successful series is the one in which Red and Yellow arrive for a Halloween party only to be turned away by the host because he thinks they are kids who are trick-or-treating. After the host asks them if they are 4 or 5, Red defiantly says he is 46, but it’s to no avail as the host shuts the door on them. What makes these commercials so entertaining is Red (sarcastic) and Yellow’s (simple) personalities.
6. McDonald’s “Scared Silly”
Back when McDonald’s focused a lot of their advertising on Chicken McNuggets right after they debuted in 1983, they ran a series of ads with “Muppety”-looking McNuggets characters. One of the best featured a bunch of costumed McNuggets who were working to perfect dipping sauces in their castle’s laboratory. The commercial was enhanced by some cheesy Halloween music and even cheesier jokes.
Although the McNuggets weren’t getting very far with their experimentation, Ronald McDonald saves the day when he whipped out his own containers of dipping sauces. But it begs the question: Was Ronald planning on eating the McNuggets???
7. Right Guard’s “Monsters”
This Halloween-themed commercial oozes ‘80s cheese. But that’s what made it so awesome. The commercial took place at a bar, and one of the patrons was singing about not wanting to be with “Mr. Wrong.” Mr. Wrong was undoubtedly someone who didn’t wear deodorant, which signified the monsters who appeared in the commercial. Thankfully, there was an easy solution for transforming the monsters into Mr. Right. Yup, you guessed it: Right Guard Deodorant.
8. Skittles’ “Giant Spider”
In 2014, Skittles came out with a commercial that would freak out any arachnophobe. The ad featured a giant talking spider who lured a teenage trick-or-treater dressed as a mummy into its web by using bags of skittles to entice him. His friend, who was dressed as Dracula, came along and said that maybe he should try to get the Skittles. The giant spider, who was wearing a top hat, immediately appeared behind him and told him to go for it.
The extended version of the commercial continued from that point, as the giant spider told the kid that he’d help get him down if he got stuck. This version was much more entertaining because it personalized the spider and then included a not-so-unexpected twist at the end.
9. Walgreens’ “Town of ‘Perfect’ on Halloween”
In the early to mid-2000s, Walgreens ran a series of commercials set in the idyllic town of “Perfect.” Touting itself as a “place beyond the reach of cell phones and superhighways” Perfect was featured in a variety of commercials set during various times of the year, all of which were enhanced by a haunting theme song.
One of these commercials was set during Halloween and would be especially appealing to children because of the town’s unending supply of candy, smiling pumpkins, and mandate that all residents had to dress up in Halloween costumes. Of course, at the end of the commercial Walgreens had to disappoint its customers and viewers by stating that Perfect did not exist and that Walgreens was essentially the next best thing. Who knew Walgreens was that awesome???
10. Geico’s “Let’s Hide Behind the Chainsaws”
A parody of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this recent Halloween-themed commercial had a fun time showing just how stupid horror movie characters can be. After all, who hasn’t yelled at their TV screen during a horror movie in the futile attempt to warn a character that the killer is right behind them?
So it was with this commercial, as a group of four would-be victims attempted to find a hiding place so that they could escape from the madman who was pursuing them. You couldn’t help but wonder if they got away.
These are just a handful of the most memorable Halloween-themed commercials, but there are so many others that we fondly remember from our childhood and even some that have aired during recent years.
What’s your favorite Halloween-themed commercial? Let us know in the comments below.