Trick-or-treat: these brands have taken Halloween marketing to the next level.

Halloween is a key moment on the marketing calendar, offering the opportunity to scare up some publicity (and maybe some genuine scares) and get more eyeballs on your brand. Capturing the excitement of the holidays with a relevant, resonant ad campaign is every marketer’s dream. But beware: if you approach Halloween promotional content wrong, the results can be ghastly.

Here, we’ve assembled the most outrageous and memorable Halloween-inspired marketing initiatives of the past decade. Branded content never looked so spooky.

1. Ford’s Spooky Car Wash Prank

It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than a pitch black carwash teeming with zombies. Ford lured several unsuspecting drivers into this nightmarish scenario, creating a documentary-style campaign in which their “victims” were caught reacting to a horrifying haunted car wash. The guerilla-style campaign video has nearly 2 million views on YouTube.

2. Snickers’ Horseless Headsman

Snickers is no stranger to the Halloween marketing game. They’ve released several Halloween campaigns throughout the years, all of which have been both creative and memorable. Remember grocery store lady? The brand’s 2012 “Horseless Headsman” was particularly clever, showcasing a confused headless horseman alongside the tagline, “you’re not you when you’re hungry.”

3. Tide’s Halloween Vines

Tide detergent’s playful Vine spoof of 2013’s Carrie remake demonstrated a keen understanding of emerging social platforms and an unexpected sense of humor. The campaign’s seasonal and product appropriate tagline? “Stains better be scared.” The success sparked subsequent Vine remakes of Psycho, Paranormal Activity, and Poltergeist.

4. Chipotle’s Booritos

Chipotle’s Halloween promotions have become a beloved tradition for cash-strapped college students and costume-lovers alike. For years, the brand has promoted some iteration of “come dressed up, get a free or discounted burrito.” This year, costumed customers can head to any Chipotle after 3pm on October 31 to get a meal for just $3. The company is donating up to $1,000,000 from Booritos’ proceeds to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.

5. Airbnb’s Haunted Getaway

Thanks to Airbnb, Count Dracula’s actual castle, which sits on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia, will be opening its ornate, gothic doors for the first time since 1948. Two lucky winners will bunk up for a spooky (but hopefully bloodless) slumber party.

6. Tesco’s Spookermarket

Everyone loves a good, old-fashioned, jump-out-of-your-skin scare. That is, if they’re watching it happen to someone else. U.K. supermarket chain Tesco sent customers running for the exits with their tricked-out haunted store, complete with phantom grocery carts and a legitimately terrifying zombie lurking in the toilet paper aisle. The hidden camera footage has 2.4 million views on YouTube, and points viewers to four demo videos that show Tesco products achieving the same spooky effects at home.

What’s your favorite Halloween marketing campaign? Let us know on Twitter @thundrfoot.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer B2C content marketing services to help your business reach the audiences that matter with smart, useful content that delivers the right message at the right time. Learn more about B2C content marketing here.

Author Grace Stearns

A graduate of Pepperdine University, Grace has worked in PR and brand communications at publishing giants like Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, and Simon & Schuster. She writes about content marketing, social media, and technology for L&T's blog. A reluctant West Coast transplant, Grace lives in Brooklyn and spends a majority of her free time curled up with a good book.

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