Halloween isn’t a huge sales holiday. It’s like the black sheep in the family next to Black Friday or Boxing Day that come soon after it.
But it does present a big sales spike for very specific types of businesses. And it also provides everyone else with a convenience excuse to begin theming campaigns and generating brand awareness before those big days in a few weeks.
The essence of Halloween is thrill, which means the emphasis for most of these ads will be on using evocative imagery to get their point across.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Halloween Facebook ad examples to see what formulas advertisers are following.
Content promotion on Facebook is common because it’s one of the best ways to (inexpensively) generate attention and website clicks back to your site.
Before worrying about new sales, you need to create some brand recognition and engagement.
Which means your ad campaigns need to filter out those who have an interest in what you’ve got (so you can later target them specifically, through past website visits over the past 30-60 days for example).
Brace yourself, because you’re about to see a lot of lists and a lot of clickbait. But you’ll see why.
Halloween costumes, for most pervy adults, are sexy. Others, are scary.
That’s what you expect the majority of the time, and a quick view of some other ads below will confirm that inherent bias.
Breaking that mold though is exactly what helps make this one stand out.
Instead of gambling with clickbait or going over-the-top with hyperbole, they’re just tellin’ it like it is.
It’s a pattern interruption, formatted and laid out in a way that makes you (the viewer) expect one thing, but getting you to do a double take when you realize they’re doing something completely different.
This one is creepy. You have three people all covered up, staring directly at you (except you can’t see their faces or expressions). The sepia-like tones help set the ominous theme.
The headline and copy is relatively straightforward and direct (and odd, which has the power to outperform even numbered lists by 20%).
But what sets is apart is that captivating image, which on a visual medium like Facebook, is what matters.
On a visual medium, where people don’t read, if you’re going to get something right – make it the image.
3. The News of Today
Let’s follow one creepy photo up with another.
This one is so effective, that you don’t even need color. Straight black and white creates extra shadows, and the fact that the scene doesn’t make a whole lot of sense only adds to the tension.
The color palette also helps set it apart from the all the other ads someone might be looking at.
So in between the colorful photos of your niece’s third grade graduation and college roommate’s weekend escapades, this grotesque thing pops up. And you can’t help but click.
This is a clever costume. But beyond that, it’s also a clever ad that combines pop culture (which we’ll dive into next) with a nice, big listicle for good measure.
This one has something else working for it though. Want to make ads more powerful?
First, show people’s faces. Second, highlight their ‘microexpressions’. These are like universal feelings that all people have, which can be widely understood in literally fractions of a second – as quickly as “1/15 – 1/25 of a second” according to Science of People.
The most powerful ‘microexpressions’, as this one shows, are powerful emotions like anger, disgust, fear, surprise or contempt.
The last ad succeeded in large part because they used something recognizable, that gave you reason to pause and contemplate.
Here’s another that leverages pop culture to not only get your attention, but also enhance your emotional connection to it as well.
Beyond the excellent side-by-side image though, is the copy.
Previously we’ve seen a few other ads fall short with truncated text and generic or overly vague language.
While this headline might be a little long, it’s specificity is great. The supporting copy would make even BuzzFeed jealous. And the description on top is whimsical – hitting a tone that would directly appeal to a very specific audience.
Going full-on clickbait now, here’s one ad that trivializes spousal abuse. Tasteful!
Regardless of your personal opinions though, the image performs an excellent balancing act of being realistic enough to ‘belong’ on Facebook, while also being recognizable enough from incorporating pop culture.
The headline and other text is incredibly simple and minimal. Which is fine, because the image (and that black eye) get the point across.
Whether we like it or not, clickbait works. We don’t want to click, but we probably will. (And then hate ourselves for it.)
One study of 67,907 headlines found that the most successful also just so happened to be the most polarizing too.
On first pass, this ad photo seems… low quality? Unprofessional even.
But it’s that realism that makes it appealing. According to Getty Images, authenticity is the most important ingredient in a powerful visual.
The headline also discusses and references Pinterest Halloween examples, so having a more personal image (which looks like it could have been lifted from one of your friend’s Instagram accounts) actually lends credibility to this ad.
The last few ads, including this one, have had something obvious in common. They’re all lists.
Just what makes a listicle – despite being so obvious and so cliché – appealing?
The assumption is that lists do two things.
First, they promise to provide a quick fix; a step-by-step outline or ‘cheatsheet’ that provides a readily available answer.
Second (and not to be understated or appreciated), is that they offer up a mind numbing distraction for a few minutes. Despite how that sounds, it’s useful.
President Obama wears the same color suits everyday. The reason, is to avoid decision fatigue which now runs rampant in our daily lives.
Lists help us ‘switch off’ for a few and mentally take a break throughout the day.
Getting people to buy something online is incredibly difficult. However if you’ve been using a Facebook sales funnel effectively to this point, the ‘Purchase’ or decision stage should be easy.
In comparison to the last step where you’re clawing for attention using any tactic imaginable, in this step you can be more restrained and direct if you’re targeting people who already know who you are, and have shown at least passing interest in what you’ve got to offer.
So no cliffhanger headlines needed here. No insanely compelling images or numbered lists. Simple and direct works.
9. Crazy 8
You don’t always have to recreate the wheel. You don’t always need clickbait titles and evocative images to do the trick.
The fundamentals are, after all, just that.
93% of consumers will use a discount throughout the year. Which means they appeal to almost everyone. This ad expertly reinforces that message three times (in the copy, image, and short headline).
Good product images can also tell the whole story, as 67% of consumers consider them “very important”. That means people prefer these almost over every other feature like customer reviews and full, wordy descriptions.
Different ad, same punchline.
A variety of product images are shown (so they can showcase a sample of the variety and hopefully widen the appeal), while also combining it with a price incentive.
You’ve got the discounted amount shown above, with the starting sale price below. The CTA usage is correct and the images highlight people’s faces.
It’s simple, but it also manages to pull together a lot of the elements reviewed here already to hit the basics or ‘best practices’.
11. Surrender Nightclub
Who. What. Where. When.
These are the basics elements of a good story or in this case, a good ad. In just a few punchy bullets, they tell the viewer or reader all they need to know – as quickly as possible.
The most popular headlines on Facebook ads only feature 5 words. That doesn’t leave a whole lotta room to expand or be verbose. Instead, you have to work hard to pair the message down to only the essential pieces of information that have to get across.
And when you do that, you’re left with the basics… of who’s doing what, where it’s happening, and when.
12. Surrender Nightclub
At the end of the day, your ads only have the ability to scratch the surface. Here’s what I mean…
Let’s imagine for a second that you run a Las Vegas hotel. (That would be… interesting.)
You’re trying to draw people to your hotel on a few big nights like Halloween, and so you’re going to put on some music and bring in some entertainers to perform.
All your other competitors are doing the same exact thing in such a tightly contested marketplace.
So what determines whether someone clicks your ad vs. theirs?
I’ll give you a hint… it ain’t your headline.
Sure, these things matter. They can help you eek out a few extra percentage points that can add up with volume.
But otherwise, the single greatest bearing on your ad performance is the offer itself.
Generally speaking, the person (or company) with the best, most valuable offer wins. Hands down.
Putting up a fat Elvis impersonator (literally, his name is Fat Elvis) won’t draw more millennials to your place when put against some of the most well-known DJ’s in the world (despite how seemingly hipster the appeal).
Halloween presents limited sales opportunities for a very specific subset of companies (like candy, costumes, and events).
These businesses are still employing common ‘best practices’ we’ve come to recognize, albeit with a twist to stand out and resonate with those in the holiday spirit already.
However at the end of the day, beyond those surface level tweaks and changes, a lot of your ads success will still come back to the offer you’ve got.
Sometimes that means the quality or angle of the content you’re promoting. While others, it refers to the actual product or service you’re trying to sell.
Sometimes that means using compelling, interesting or thought-provoking images to grab attention and stand out.
While others, when you’re appealing to those who already recognize you, means simple and straightforward should do the trick.