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, Ă  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.

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