The Best of Halloween Marketing; Apple’s OOH AirPod Ads: Thursday’s First Things First

Plus, streaming chaos is about to begin

Burger King's trolled McDonald's with these 2017 Halloween ads. - Credit by Burger King
Headshot of Jameson Fleming

Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s new daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

The Best of Halloween

In case you didn’t notice the 14 people dressed as Lil Nas X in “Old Town Road” during your commute, today is in fact Halloween (which is this newsletter writer’s favorite holiday). Marketers come up with all kinds of brilliant ideas for Halloween-themed ads and activations, so we’re going run down a few of our favorites from the past few years this morning.

Related: Check out this infographic on America’s favorite Halloween candy by state.

Exclusive: How Apple Used Dramatic Outdoor Ads for the Surprise Reveal of AirPods Pro


Apple and creative agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab revealed the AirPods Pro through a two-phase outdoor campaign. First, giant and unbranded images of dancers appeared in major global markets. After the AirPods Pro were announced, the images—some more than 40 feet in height—were updated to include the new devices in the dancers’ ears.

Read more: Creativity editor David Griner got the inside scoop on how Apple and TBWA\Media Arts Lab conceived and executed the campaign.

Streaming Chaos Is About to Begin

There’s been a flood of streaming news over the last couple weeks as Apple TV+ debuts tomorrow and Disney+ is coming in about two weeks. So here’s our latest coverage about the services as they sprint to scale up:

Best the Rest: Today’s Top News and Insights

Creativity Editor David Griner’s Favorite Halloween Ad: Mars’ “Bite Size Horror” Campaign


As a genre, horror is something the ad industry traditionally only waded into through the lens of satire and parody. You might get a spooky setup, but the payoff was always pretty upbeat and salesy.

Mars candies really changed all that in 2017 with the brand’s “Bite Size Horror” campaign created in partnership with Fox. Each video was essentially a mini horror film, and, while they weren’t gory, they were still legitimately chilling. “Floor 9.5,” sponsored by Skittles, is haunting in an almost Kafka-meets-Poe way, yet still feels truly modern. “The Road” from M&M’s is a classic creepy tale of a haunted roadside, reminiscent of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The only disappointing thing about “Bite Size Horror”?

It didn’t become an annual tradition.

For Halloween, we asked marketers what scares them the most about their jobs:

Bill Cochran, creative group head, The Richards Group

The possibility of a data-driven copywriting artificial intelligence that can write smart-ass survey answers better than I can.

Sarah Simonetti, account supervisor, BSSP

As an account person, you are haunted (not just during Halloween) by conflicting industry news about our role and function, and whether we will even exist within agency models of the future. While some camps believe we’re an extension of the client team, focusing primarily on the bottom line and how to best bring our agency team along for the ride, others say it’s all about creative first and our kind of brand stewardship is irrelevant. Now, more than ever before, account people need to be strategic in prioritizing business and creative equally in order to survive.

Kelli Miller, creative director and partner, And/Or

As a small-business owner the scariest thing is the red line in our cash flow and its ever-present creep. We do our best to keep it at bay, but inevitably it marches forward. That pressure can force difficult decisions about what work to take on to keep it at bay. Even if our intention is to be selective about the work we create, sometimes we need to feed the monster. As a studio that puts the quality and craft of our work at the very top of our values. It’s very scary to feel the pressure to make sacrifices for capital.

And the industry:

Selena Pizarro, svp, director of video production, RPA

People who insist on trying to templatize the art of advertising.

Anda Gansca, CEO and co-founder, Knotch

What frightens me about the marketing industry today is that we’re facing a real lack of transparent, accurate data. Oftentimes, the incentive structures behind data reporting prevent transparent, trusted data getting back to brands in real time. The data that publishers and agencies provide on campaigns isn’t always sufficient, and it’s often delayed. This has led us to a place where trust is a difficult currency to earn in the industry for decision-makers.

Max Ottignon, co-founder, Ragged Edge

Branding is about turning complex concepts into simple, meaningful ideas. But if we’re so good at that, why have we done such a bad job at branding branding? Ask 10 people to define branding, and you’ll get 10 frighteningly different answers. And if we can’t agree on what we offer, what right do we have to tell other people what they offer?


Publish date: October 31, 2019 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/apple-airpod-plus-ads/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
{"taxonomy":"","sortby":"","label":"","shouldShow":""}