With Christmas now getting closer, many companies are probably saving their big campaigns for the festive season, but some of the larger brands have already released their Halloween ads including Sainsburys and Mars. Of course these Halloween campaigns are fully digital with the main focus being the video content. However, go back a few decades when print advertising was at its prime, and we can see a lot more of companies creating print Halloween ads. Here are a few examples of some popular and innovative vintage and retro Halloween ads, many of which share similar themes and motifs.
One theme seen in many vintage Halloween ads is the role of the woman as sex symbols combined with the tradition of dressing up in costumes for Halloween. Many ads would portray the women as sultry and scandalous, a vast difference from the traditional stereotypical domestic goddess.
Almost all the vintage Halloween ads that I could find had one difintive element they all shared; the pumpkin. Used as a symbol for the celebration, many ads would have the pumpkin either as the centre piece for the ad or as a hidden symbol somewhere within the ad. The jack-o-lantern serves as the perfect symbol for Halloween as it is a universal concept that can be associated with the day.
You might have been able to spot another theme with all the ads already shown above. The colour scheme. The majority of the ads seem to heavily use the colour orange in their ads. Another use of symbolism, as orange is a colour highly associated with Halloween and the Autumn season in general.
Modern Halloween ads often prey on the human emotions of fear and tend to be more targeted to a more mature demographic with many ads being horror based. However, if you go back a few decades, many Halloween ads were often targeted to the younger demographic with more of a focus on the more fun and lighthearted elements on Halloween such as dressing up and trick-or-treating.
Another thing you may have noticed about vintage ads is the heavy and central use of the written word. Most of the ads above have more copy in them than more modern print ads, which are often very simplistic and suggestive. This could be due to the fact that print ads in those days were not a part of a larger all encompassing campaign where consumers could correlate ads across different medium. This meant that a print ad was often times the only form of advertising a company could afford or have available therefore they had to make sure all the relevent information was on the printed ad. Whereas nowadays, companys often distribute a print ad in conjunction with ads from different medias, such as TV or online. Therefore for them, the print ad could be used more as a reminder or a way to attract consumers to their online channels where they could read all the relevent information on their website.
The past never seems to fully dissappear as resurgences of retro or vintage concepts tend to occur as we cling on to the nostalgia and past. Looking back at Halloween vintage ads, it is already evident that some companies are finding inspiration from them in their modern campaigns, such as Sainsbury's, who's latest Halloween ad is a black and white homage to the 60s featuring music of that era.