Tentpole Marketing: Halloween case study

27th October 2015

Tentpole marketing is all about piggybacking on big events such as Halloween, Christmas, the Rugby World Cup, Back to the Future Day and so on. The term tentpole marketing started in Hollywood, where the big studios would focus their marketing efforts in the run up to the release, which would then decrease post opening weekend. This creates a spike that is said to resemble a tentpole holding up the canvas. You can see an example of the tentpole graph of anticipation in this video from BSVPTV.

Halloween can be just such a tentpole marketing event for brands to get into the buzz with video content, helping to engage existing fans and reach new audiences. But where is the Halloween buzz from video marketers?

Last year in an article about Halloween video marketing in ReelSEO, Carla Marshall asked where are the “trick or treat” campaigns from brands? Views of Halloween related content on YouTube are on the rise. She points to the fact that last year of the 80,000 YouTube channels which tagged Halloween content, only 1,672 came from brands with the remainder being from influencers (18,000) or fans (61,000).

Therefore, there is an opening for your brand to get in on the Halloween buzz. Here are our tips, which will also work for other tentpole events.

Plan your tentpole marketing …

We’ve mentioned developing an editorial calendar recently in our article about how to save time on content marketing. At the planning stage, look through the calendar year and think about which events will give your brand maximum return on investment. Which events will your target audience be interested in?

You also need to plan how you will distribute your content using a mixture of social media, email marketing, outreach, paid media and optimising for search.

Now you need to think about what you want to achieve from your campaign. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, create interest in a new product or capture data about your audience for future campaigns? It’s important to document what success for your campaign looks like, and then you can improve next time and also prove ROI to stakeholders.

But be reactive too

Planning ahead also frees your team up to be flexible so that you can adapt and key into moments as they happen on social media in real-time. Think about adding social media video to your Halloween campaign, and track to see which hashtags are working and engage in conversations as they happen.

What kind of content?

If you’re clear about your audience, the goals of your campaign, you are half way there with your tentpole marketing campaign. We’ve written a content marketing white paper to help you create awesome video content no matter the event. Here a few ideas to inspire your content for Halloween…

Be on brand

It’s important that you create content that reinforces your brand values and messages. Chipotle always have fun at Halloween with their Booritos campaign where they offer a special meal deal for customers who dress up. This year they are placing a twist on it which reinforces their brand message that they offer healthy, sustainable food with the strapline, “Unnecesary additives in fast food are creepy”. Customers have to add an unnecessary item to their costume – just as this brand’s ‘unhealthy’ competitors might do.

Create a guide

A video guide is an effective way for a range of verticals to get in on the Halloween action. A marketing agency could create a video with tips on creating a Halloween campaign or a travel company could show top spooky castles to visit.

Here’s an example of a native Twitter video guide from Persil with activities for children.

Tentpole how tos

As we saw from the YouTube stats above, vloggers and influencers are getting more of the Halloween buzz than brands creating 16,000 YouTube videos out of the 80,000 tagged #Halloween. It’s worth thinking about what your brand can learn from them. Here’s a “how to” tutorial from cosmetics brand, MAC which works like a vlogger tutorial, and is part of a Halloween series.

Fashion brand, Accessorize created the video below – again showing how to create a Halloween look. This brief ad is effective as a teaser but we feel that a longer more in depth guide would also be useful for its audience. This feels like an advert, rather than a genuinely useful piece of content.



A Halloween competition could be a fun way to reach a new audience and capture valuable customer data. Here’s a competition from Sony Xperia this Halloween which involves social sharing:

Competitions can also help to engage your audience and encourage interaction in real-time. We used live streaming to produce a very tongue in cheek video for Hobgoblin beers last Halloween evening. The ‘Wheel of Misfortune’ played on nostalgia for this type of 80s/90s cheesy game show. It even had its own gunge tank. Contestants were recruited via social media, and fans could win prizes during the live show. Brand advocates were used to help share the content, and as a result Hobgoblin, raised awareness and extended reach.

Show your team personality

Tentpole events can be a useful way to show the personality of your brand. You could ask your team to dress up with a particular theme that suits your brand, and then create an Instagram video or share photos via social media. It’s a good team building exercise and fans love seeing behind the scenes. Check out our Facebook album to see how Team Hurriane gets creative and find out which horror films inspire our creative director

One final point with tentpole marketing is to be careful with copyright. This doesn’t matter for Halloween, but at times, you’re not allowed to name your brand in association with large events, such as the Olympics. It’s a blurry area, but if you’re unsure consult your legal team.

What do you think of the Halloween campaigns we’ve mentioned? Have you spotted any great brand content so far? Tweet us on @hurricanemedia.

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