Halloween – FMCG’s Hits and Horrors


By Camilla Davies


All Hallows’ Eve crops up just one day a year but take a glance at the supermarket aisles and it’s officially spooky season. Nielsen Homescan data 2017 tells us that 55% of households with children bought more special products for Halloween, which is something to scream about. So as a retail occasion with plenty of opportunity for FMCG to leverage in the lull between Back To School and Christmas, here’s our round-up of which brands have mastered the 2018 on-pack.


Soreen Scream Lunchbox Loaves

Malt loaf wouldn’t necessarily be your first thought when it comes to Halloween snacking - not ‘naughty’ enough to dish out to trick or treaters, and doesn’t pack enough punch to be considered ‘scary’. But market leader Soreen has carved a niche for itself as the autumnal go-to snack by cementing the Halloween connection through its on-pack messaging.

Labelling themselves the “frighteningly fantastic” snack, the SKU Soreen Scream Lunchtime Loaves contains 5 individually wrapped loaves, with flavours blood orange or spooktacular toffee apple. Rather than settle for a flash promotion with limited brand recall, Soreen has put four years behind the concept (with minor changes including a flavour shake-up), helping to improve consumer association year-on-year, and proving that good ideas can have longevity.


Smarties Scaries

A household name you’d expect to see in every kid’s trick or treat bucket come October 31st regardless, it’s nice to see Smarties acknowledge the occasion in aisle.

They’ve tipped their pointy hat to the season with their limited edition Scaries on-pack in major retailers Asda and Tesco. Scaries – the seasonal share pack featuring brown and orange smarties only - hit Asda shelves across the country from 6th September, and selected Tesco stores from 3rd October. The limited-edition packs see the brand logo updated to ‘Scaries’ for shelf stand-out.



While not strictly Halloween focused, we couldn’t help but include Peperami’s ‘terrifying’ on-pack tease, which offers the chance to collect 15 promotional codes to get your hands on a pair of free undercrackers – on the premise that they’ll be needed after visiting Alton Towers or Thorpe Park through their promotional giveaways. It’s nice to see such symmetry between on-pack messaging and it’s wider communications. Peperami’s website is totally aligned with the campaign, with the option to upload a ‘screamer’ video to win theme park tickets too.

This clever use of promotion achieves a lot of bang for its buck – the prize cost of a pair of white pants is minimal compared to other FMCG prize draws you see on the market, yet it suits their brand story to a tee (or undie) and the underpants element win belief is high. Peperami’s sense of humour is a huge part of its branding, and while this particular promotion exists on shelf before and beyond the Halloween season, it’s a fitting autumnal tie-in too.

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El Paso Day of the Dead

Old El Paso is bringing the autumn season back to its Mexican brand story origins, by celebrating Day of the Dead (November 2nd) across the portfolio this year. The on-pack promotion offers the chance to “Win a Trip to Mexico”, with shoppers entering the competition through a microsite.

The campaign runs until the end of November across Old El Paso’s Fajita Kit Smoky BBQ, Stand’n Stuff Smoky BBQ, Enchilada Kit Cheesy Baked, and Stand’n Stuff Extra Mild dinner kits, with one winner receiving £6,000 worth of Thomas Cook vouchers, which may be used on a holiday to Mexico, or any other available destination. Backing the on pack promotion with a heavy airtime and special media campaign, it’s clear General Mills has put ammo behind the brand.

With the marketing team aiming to appeal to “younger, millennial shoppers who already love the fun of Halloween and will continue to support the event – and buy into Old El Paso – as they start their young families,” according to TalkingRetail.com, it’s fun to see Halloween on-pack promotions spread beyond the chocolate aisle, adding a splash of colour, and a smidge of insight into another culture, in aisle. With only the one big win displayed on pack however, the brand could potentially learn a trick from Peperami’s cheap and cheerful secondary giveaways, to really deliver a treat of a campaign. 

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Percy Pumpkins

Percy pigs’ family portfolio is ever growing. From his farmyard pals to exotic animal friends, the Phizzy Pig Tails and his vegan counterparts it’s clear Marks & Spencer’s Percy rules the roost. The team behind Percy have a pig for every season, so it’s makes sense that before he bodes us a Merry Percymas (their pun, not ours), Halloween has its moment. While Percy’s Pumpkins came out in limited edition last year, but we couldn’t help sticking him in 2018’s round up too.  


Supermarket spooks

Products aside, it’s fun to see the big grocers getting into the October spirit too. Sainsbury’s orange branding perfectly complements the signature Halloween colour scheme, and Asda, the Halloween market-leader, continues to add a touch of fun to the aisle this year.


Claire Scott