It may not feel like it yet, but Fall is here. The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, and the sweet and savory aroma of pumpkin spice is inescapable. Halloween decorations and candy have been overflowing grocery store isles since August, and it’s only a matter of time before the Halloween TV ads begin playing every five minutes.
Halloween commercials are one of my favorite things about the holiday. They’re usually filled with children trick-or-treating down the pumpkin-lit streets of their neighborhood, promoting the low prices of Spooktacular costumes or monster-size candy sales. The images of the holiday are as comforting as a warm hug on a chilly Autumn night, and one can’t help but get in the spirit of Halloween when it’s visible everywhere.
Sadly, just as quickly as the holiday and all that comes with it arrives, it’s gone. The pumpkins slowly start to wither and wilt on the front porch, the orange lights come down from windowsills, and lawn skeletons crawl back to their rightful place in the damp basement. It’s an empty, overwhelming feeling that lingers around until the next holiday.
And then something magical happens. Something that brings all those amazing feelings of Halloween joy rushing back. Monster ads—and I don’t mean the energy drink!
Monsters in commercials were always relegated for the Halloween season, but as the horror genre spreads its wings and flies into the homes of mainstream audiences on a weekly basis, horror has been popping up in television ads year-round. Featured in ads for everything from cable companies, insurance, cell phones, and more, these ads will certainly fulfill your Halloween, horror-loving soul throughout the year.
Here are some of my favorites.
Spectrum cable’s recent ad campaign features everyone’s favorite monsters in everyday situations. Advertising the “evils of satellite TV,” a group of friends—who just so happen to be monsters—are shown participating in very human activities like playing poker or riding the train. The hilarious ads feature monsters like a mummy, a werewolf, a vampire, and a talking doll as if they were regular Joe-Shmoe’s who must deal with the same problems as all of us!
In one ad, the talking doll complains about being confused for a little boy while on a date, and in another, a mummy describes summoning demons in between dropping his kids off at soccer. See, they’re just like us!
The ads all end with the monsters getting upset about their satellite TV, and boast the slogan, “TV that’s missing stuff is evil. Spectrum has it all.”
I was surprised to see Frankenstein’s monster in a Christmas ad last year and was even more surprised by the tears welling up in my eyes. The unexpected, heartwarming Apple ad features Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) as Frankie, the big guy who just wants to share the holidays with others.
After spending a night by the fire alone, Frankie journeys into town and unintentionally frightens the people shopping nearby. To ease their worries, Frankie places Christmas lights on the bolts in his neck and begins singing, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays.”
Unfortunately, the townspeople remain wary of the misunderstood monster. Then, a sweet young girl shows kindness and compassion on Frankie—like Maria in Frankenstein—and approaches him with open arms. Together, they sing the Christmas carol, and soon the entire town joins them.
The commercial will tug at your heartstrings as you watch Frankie who’s overcome with emotion when he finally feels welcome. The ad urges viewers to, “Open your heart to everyone,” which is exactly what the holidays are all about.
Dracula at the Blood Drive
Have you ever wondered what Dracula does when he’s not trying to suck your blood? Well, this funny GEICO ad gives us a glimpse of what the fanged monster does outside of his coffin. As a creature who feeds on the blood of humans, it only makes sense to find Dracula volunteering at a blood drive. In fact, it’s actually perfect. He doesn’t have to put anyone in a trance or fight off Van Helsing because people at blood drives willingly give their blood.
In the ad, a giddy Dracula is practically drooling while interviewing a blood donor about his blood type and diet. The donor is unnerved by the vampire’s presence, and rightfully so because Dracula totally wants his blood.
The commercial is hilarious and gets the point across seamlessly. People who save money with GEICO insurance are as happy as a vampire at a blood drive!
Ever since The Walking Dead premiered on TV in 2010, zombies have been insanely popular. There’s been an excess of zombie movies and books trying to capitalize on the show’s success, so it’s no surprise that advertisers have tried to feed the hordes of viewers who are hungry for more.
Sprint jumped on the zombie train with their ad promoting the company’s unlimited guarantee for life plan. The guarantee is so solid, it even protects someone who isn’t alive…which doesn’t even really make sense, but who cares?
The exchange between zombie and Sprint employee is enjoyable to watch, especially because the zombie tries to pass himself off as a living person. Until, a piece of his body falls off and he needs to admit he’s dead. It’s ridiculous, goodhearted fun.
Jon Hamm HR Block Zombie Ad
Jon Hamm played an advertising exec for years on TV, so moving onto commercials is a natural progression. The ad shows Hamm sitting down at a dining table with a female zombie discussing her tax refund. She dreams of taking a nice vacation with her return money, and Hamm jokes she needs to be careful because of her skin tone. She laughs and it’s revealed the two are on a TV set—likely for The Walking Dead—and she’s a zombie extra. This ad is just another example of the popularity of zombies.
Bored to Death
This humorous Starburst ad claims the colorful candies are a juicy contradiction. While on a bus, an Asian Scottish man describes the delectable hard and soft candies to his oblivious son. Then, a zombie interrupts to point out that he himself is a contradiction.
The “living dead” man complains he’s being bored-to-death—even though he’s already dead—by the man’s Starburst observations. The commercial doesn’t really make sense, but it’s still alluring and oddly funny to watch.
Meet the Mortons
Being a vampire is hard enough, but when you add on raising a family and keeping a well-balanced diet, it can be painful. Thankfully, this vampire family finds the perfect solution for their on-the-go lifestyle: Kellog Nutri Grain bars!
This commercial feels like a shortened, less-frightening Goosebumps episode mixed with Modern Family—and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Once the family has their breakfast bars we get to see them brushing their teeth without a reflection, waiting for the school bus alongside terrified classmates, and walking their bat through the neighborhood like it was a dog.
It’s a creative glimpse at monsters living normal lives, and it offers a different side of vampires who aren’t lusting for blood. And if that doesn’t awaken Halloween memories and feels, nothing will.
These are only a few of the dozens of horror-related TV ads you’ll find while channel surfing throughout the year. Each advertises something different, and all are sure to bring a smile to your face. What are some of your favorites?