Svedka Vodka Uses Retargeting to Make Creepy Halloween Ads That Follow You Around

Turning something 'inherently negative' into something fun

Ad retargeting is more trick than treat, right?

Regardless, Svedka Vodka looks to leverage the unloved online marketing practice for a Halloween “Banner Ad Curse” campaign, created by Toronto agency Bensimon Byrne. This marks the third straight scary seasonal sojourn for the client-agency team, following their “Printable Costumes” in 2015 and last year’s “First World Horror Stories.”

“For this year’s Halloween campaign, it felt like the right time to really have some fun and use a data-driven approach that sequences video and banners in a compelling and interesting way,” agency creative director Dan Strasser tells AdFreak.

It all starts with bait-and-switch seasonal cocktail recipes. Served to vodka devotes, the posts appear on pre-rolls and in social feeds. When you click through, you’re whisked away—like riders on a witch’s broomstick—to the Svedka hub, where this this video awaits:

After viewing the clip, the “curse” begins, and video banner ads start following you around. Here are some examples of the ads, which stalk you based on your location, vodka preferences and browsing habits:

You can break free by visiting the campaign hub and sharing clickbait articles, including one headlined “Are Svedka Cocktails Part of a Curse?” When your friends click on those links, they become “cursed,” restarting the cycle. (Boo, Svedka! BOO!)

“We’re of the mind-set that the vast majority of people within this target will crack a smile when they realize for once it’s not a vacuum cleaner or that jacket they once looked at online 27 days ago populating the paid space of their screens,” Strasser says. “The beauty of the insight is that it turns something inherently negative—banner ads—into a fun and seasonally relevant experience.”

Svedka Halloween Curse Campaign
Client: Constellation Brands Inc; Svedka
Vice President Marketing, Spirits: Carl Evans
Brand Director, Spirits: Vicky Arcos
Director, Public Relations: Meryl Van Meter
Associate Brand Manager: Karen Parente

Creative Agency: Bensimon Byrne
Creative Directors: Dan Strasser, Joseph Bonnici
Writer: Matt Doran
Art Director: Chris Brown
Producer: Caroline Clarke
Group Account Director: Chris Roop
Business Lead: Danielle Iozzo
Program Director: Katelyn Porter
Project Manager: Hana Yazdani
Creative Technology Lead: Patrick Schroen

Media Agency: Bensimon Byrne
Media Director: Thomas Shadoff
Digital Media Lead: Jennifer Will
Media Project Co-ordinator: Melanie Stevens
Programmatic Lead: Christine Benoit
Programmatic Optimization Manager: Nayab Mali

Editorial Company: Wingman VFX
Executive Producer: Samantha Simpson, Jenna Edwards
Motion Graphics: Lev Bravo

Audio: TA2
Sound Design/Music: TA2 Sound + Music
Executive Producer: Dana Gadsden
Audio Director: Steve Gadsden
Engineer: David Clarke

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.