‘Bite Size Horror’: a frighteningly successful ad campaign

Screen capture from “Floor 9.5,” one of Mars’ scary short films for Halloween.

Pop over to the Skittles website, and you’ll find all the happy, colorful “taste the rainbow” imagery you’d expect from this candy brand. Viewers of some Fox network programming, however, recently saw a different, darker side of Skittles: a two-minute commercial in the form of a haunting horror flick.

The chilling “Floor 9.5” ran during a New York Yankees-Cleveland Indians playoff game. It is one of several two-minute shorts that AdWeek is calling “the best Halloween ads in years,” and I’d have to agree. (You can view “Floor 9.5” and three other shorts — sponsored by M&Ms, Starburst and Snickers — via this AdWeek article. Warning: These shorts all rate pretty high on the fright-o-meter, so if you’re not into it you might not want to watch.)

Mars, the company that makes these candy brands, is taking a new twist on advertising by producing quality content tied to the theme of the Halloween “season.” (I guess Halloween is a season now, rather than a day.) Mars hired professional writers, directors and actors for each of these well-produced shorts, which the company is calling “Bite Size Horror.” A nice connection to the bite-sized candies Mars hopes to sell a lot of for Halloween.

Would any college or university dare to create such scary storytelling as part of a marketing strategy? Not likely, but the idea of creating stories instead of traditional disruptive ads is what content marketing is all about.


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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