The Scariest, Freakiest and Funniest Halloween Ads of 2017

Scare tactics from Mars to Burger King

Eli Roth, the horror movie director, made his first ad this Halloween, for the Halloween Horror Nights attraction at Universal Orlando Resort.
Headshot of Tim Nudd

It’s been a particularly fun year for Halloween advertising, with lots of marketers producing mini horror movies in place of their usual 30-second spots. We’ve collected a lot of that long-form stuff here in our 2017 Halloween roundup, along with other memorably creepy ads and stunts. We’ll update this story as more frightful and fun executions come in.


“Home For All Things Haunted”

British supermarket chain Asda always does fun Halloween ads. This year is no exception, with Saatchi & Saatchi London rolling out a spot in which a family gets possessed by the 80’s Cameo song “Word Up” and does a Thriller-like jam to the beat. Viewers who Shazam the song get to try out a spooky lip-sync filter on their phones.

Burger King

“Scary Clown Night”

BK takes aim at archrival McDonald’s once again this year with #ScaryClownNight, offering free Whoppers at five U.S. locations to anyone dressed as a clown on Halloween. The dig at Ronald is also timely, as there will surely be plenty of Pennywises roaming the land come Tuesday evening.

Burger King

“Zombie Whopper”

BK has a separate fun stunt happening in France. On Oct. 31 only, anyone who shows up at a BK with an old receipt showing a previous Whopper purchase will see it resurrected as a Zombie Whopper. Agency Buzzman calls it “the first Whopper coming back to life after being eaten.”

Buffalo Wild Wings

“The Red Zone”

A Florida Gators fan dresses up in the colors of the Georgia Bulldogs, and soon regrets it, in this three-minute comic film from The Marketing Arm.


“Dress to Be Free”

Bacardi takes a unique view of Halloween this year with the “Dress to Be Free” campaign, celebrating those who dress up to be themselves every day and those who liberate themselves through costume. Two spots groups who base their manifesto on authenticity, truth, togetherness and celebration—Carnavaliers and Pantsula troupes.

The Directors Bureau

“Ye Olde Bureau”

Every October, production company The Directors Bureau—which counts Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola among its directors—celebrates Halloween by “dressing up” the whole company in costume, from the website to the telephone answering script to the office decor.

This year, they’re channeling the Middle Ages, rebranding as “Ye Olde Bureau” for the month of October. Callers to the main office line are greeted by a strumming lyre and flute of a festive minstrel tune. A voice in a high-pitched Cockney accent then shouts, “Grrrrrrreetings from Ye Olde Bureau, home of The Directors Bureau!” “The expertly rolled ‘r’s and overall presentation is so convincing that callers may think the guise is pre-recorded, until the operator inquires again, with another, ‘Greetings?'” a rep tells us.

There’s also a short animated film on the website, bringing to life a pair of dueling knights on the pages of a storybook.

Past years’ themes have included “TDB ESP,” a psychic hotline persona, à la Ms. Cleo; “As the Bureau Turns,” inspired by the melodrama and heartbreak of soap operas; “TDB High,” channeling high school sitcoms; a fraternity theme with “Theta Delta Beta”; fast-food restaurant-inspired “The Directors Burger”; and the Italian-themed “Bada Bureau.”

Dunkin’ Donuts

“The Witch’s Spell”

Dunkin’ and Mammoth Media collaborated on special Halloween content for the millennial-focused short-form storytelling app Yarn.

Titled “The Witch’s Spell,” the ad features four episodes offering an immersive experience for Yarn users, with text messages, images and video bringing the story to life.

Here’s a synopsis:

On Halloween night, a group of friends find themselves fully transformed into their costumes, and must race across town for a chance to lift the curse that started it all. As they unveil the cause behind the curse and the path to its solution, we are taken on a journey through a multimedia chat story of mystery, thriller and teen love. When all hope is lost, it’s their hunger to enjoy one last satisfying snack before the transformation is complete that brings them to Dunkin’ Donuts, where they find the person with the power to break the curse.

The production was directed by Maggie Levin, the creative mind behind the entertainment podcast “Chicks Who Script.” The original concept came from Mammoth Media’s content team, and it’s said to be the first brand-integrated story within Yarn.


“Cat Piano”

Wieden + Kennedy New York’s latest Duracell spot has a real Shining vibe, as the brand asks:
So you need the most trusted battery this Halloween? The spot is running in cinemas ahead of some of this season’s horror movies (It, Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, Happy Death Day, The Snowman, All I See is Youand Jigsaw) through Nov. 2.

Halloween Horror Nights

“The Mourning After”

Eli Roth, director of blockbuster horror films including Hostel, Cabin Fever and the new Death Wish starring Bruce Willis, directed this commercial—his first advertising spot—for the Halloween Horror Nights attraction at Universal Orlando Resort, running through Nov. 4.


“Halloween Skull”

Canadian agency Zulu Alpha Kilo used a Halloween theme to promote Harley-Davidson Genuine Parts and Merchandise—paying tribute to Harley’s iconic skull logo with a retail poster and social post showing a skull made up of every part of the legendary Sportster bike, Forty-Eight.


“Let Us In”

Hulu’s “Huluween” lineup for 2017 has included a handful of short horror films collectively called “The House.” The films include the seven-minute “Let Us In,” featuring a couple dressed as nuns who break into a haunted house.


Colonel Sanders Costumes and Trick-or-Treat Buckets

KFC made “vintage-inspired” Colonel Sanders Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat buckets. The costumes have been on sale for $5 at And while supplies last, the buckets are available exclusively at KFC U.S. restaurants and “given out to customers who show some Halloween spirit—Halloween costumes are encouraged!”

Landwirth Legacy Productions

“My Heroes”

Here’s a very interesting PSA, written by Alexander Day and Brian Carufe and produced by the team at Landwirth Legacy Productions. We won’t spoil the reveal, though you might see it coming anyway.

Mars and Fox

“Bite Size Horror”

Mars candy brands partnered with Fox for four short horror films that were among our favorite Halloween spots this year. They are bookended by Mars branding but otherwise unsullied by any sort of product placement. See the four films below, and read more about the series here.

Natural Light

“Case Costumes”

Some good old-fashioned prank comedy here from Natty Light, which put together a seemingly innocent stack of Natty cases at a convenience store, then watched people’s reactions as the cases came to life.


“3D Haunted House”

Pinterest is Halloween central, with more than 220 million Halloween ideas saved to the site each year. This year, Pinterest’s in-house creative team, The Studio, featured a lot of those ideas in the first-ever Pinterest Haunted House—an immersive, 360-degree experience for mobile or desktop. “Inside the house, you’ll find everything from galactic makeup how-tos to monster treats and ghost-shaped snacks brought to you by partners like L’Oreal Paris and Rice Krispies Treats,” Pinterest says.

Svedka Vodka

“Banner Ad Curse”

Svedka and agency Bensimon Byrne used ad retargeting in a spooky way, creating creepy banners that follow you around the internet.

Verizon Fios

“Dark Ages”

Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo returns for Verizon, and gets an earful from a creepy neighbor about how scary internet service was before Fios came along.


“The Neighborhood”

Comcast’s Xfinity got into the short-horror-film trend with this creepy five-minute video about a haunted mask—and the Xfinity home security product that helps cops piece together the disturbing goings-on in a suburban neighborhood on Halloween.

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.