Halloween Restaurant Marketing Ideas – Scare Up Eerie but Effective Results
The walking dead are invading cities all around the country to terrify unbitten survivors in homage to Universal Studios Hollywood’s “The Walking Dead” series about the zombie apocalypse. Few horror-genre trends promise more popular or suitable ideas for restaurant Halloween promotions than channeling “The Walking Dead” series. Your restaurant might sponsor a zombie invasion, special survivors’ menu, walking-dead social or zombie-costume or reverse-beauty contest for the most disgusting customer to shamble through the door. The zombie series and the launch of in 2015 of the “Fear the Walking Dead” spinoff are harbingers of gloom and doom for your event, which should attract lots of customers, increased spending and social media publicity.
Halloween Promotions Generate Big Business
Some retailers begin selling Halloween merchandise in July because the holiday generates big sales for decorations, costumes, candy and party supplies. Restaurants stand to gain incredible marketing benefits by hosting a Halloween event, party, costume contest, guerrilla marketing promotion or special menu. In 2015, Halloween falls on a Saturday, so the event promises to be a real screamer for restaurants.
Restaurants can decorate early with frightening décor, orange and black accents or harvest decorations to get customers in the mood. You can also run special Halloween or October specials like pumpkin-based foods, beverages colored like blood, cakes and pastries shaped like brains or monsters and bloody mary specials. Flaming cocktails are also a big hit for Halloween.
The Role of Your Staff
Creating a memorable and successful Halloween event depends on enlisting your staff to promote the festivities. Make costumes or masks mandatory for the occasion, and allow your staff members enough rope to hang themselves or play life-or-death roles while outfitted in black clothing, wigs and makeup to appear as classic horror-costume tropes like Frankenstein’s monster, mummies, wicked witches, superheroes or broadcast and movie animations.
Halloween Promotions to Die For
You can sell special merchandise, creative entrées, desserts and inspired drink specials or sponsor a Twitter contest for the scariest short text message. Even the grave and good taste don’t limit Halloween promotions, so exercise your dark side and get the creative juices flowing with the following ideas:
Entertain Your Customers with a “Hillary and Jeb Back-from-the-Dead Party”
The upcoming 2016 primaries and elections keep some people spellbound while sending others into comas of indifference. Hilary and Zeb are attempting to resurrect delayed presidential ambitions, which gives restaurants a great opportunity to tie politics and zombies together as the threads of a spider immobilize its victims.
Host a Pop-Up Restaurant Party
Pop-up restaurants are trendy, media-friendly and ideal platforms for various kinds of Halloween promotions. If you don’t have time to plan a pop-up crypt-keeper party, cemetery luau or warehouse dinner where an army of the undead crashes the party, keep the idea in mind for next year. London Mess, the edible art company, gave away free “human-flavored” burgers at a pop-up restaurant to memorialize the end of season four of the “The Walking Dead.” You can certainly grave-rob the idea for a Halloween promotion or stitch together a working alternative from spare body parts.
Channel Your Inner Hannibal
Movies and television offer a wealth of promotional ideas. Consider hosting a Hannibal Lecter Dinner Party and use recipes from the NBC series, substituting pork for long pork. You could also serve foods shaped like body parts or meals that appear disgusting but taste delicious.
Scare Up Funds for Charity
Raise funds for a charity and community cause by donating part of your Halloween profits or letting customers contribute by purchasing paper pumpkins, witches, black cats or virtual broomsticks to hang in the restaurant. You can run this type of promotion for all of October.
Extend Halloween to Include the Weekend
Halloween 2015 offers sinful opportunities for weekend gluttony, crystal-ball gazing and extended promotions. Parents usually spend the holiday with their kids, but there’s no reason they can’t celebrate early on Friday night or attend a “Bloody Mary” brunch on Sunday.
Providing treats for the kids is a great way to get families to dine during the day and evening. You can award prizes for the best kids’ costume, decorate with orange and black balloons and organize simple games to attract Halloween business with minimal preparation.
Print or Serve a Special Menu
You can print a special Halloween menu where all your regular items are renamed with colorful, frightening names. As an alternative, you can provide a special menu for the day or weekend and serve scary-looking natural foods, weird plate presentations or foods decorated to appear slimy and loathsome — just don’t carry the promotion so far that the food actually nauseates customers.
Organize a Halloween Party
Many adults enjoy Halloween just as much as kids, and restaurant parties offer adults a way to enjoy adult fun. You can organize a cocktail party or masked singles event in the bar and serve Halloween-themed cocktails, provide fortune tellers, host famous musicians or sponsor a “Monster Mash” dancing competition.
Promote Your Restaurant Concept Through Costume
You can offer incentives like Chipotle, which has given special prices to people who dressed like horrifying processed foods. If your restaurant serves vegetarian food, you could offer incentives for people dressed as vegetables. You could reward customers who dress like fast food icons like Burger King and Ronald McDonald to support or poke fun at the characters, depending on your concept. You could also encourage people to dress in period clothing, formal attire of cultural dress to reinforce your culinary concept.
Sponsor a Dark-Themed Artistic Contest
You can get a month or more of promotional benefits by sponsoring a Halloween-themed art, photography or short video contest. Display the entries in the restaurant and on your website, and let people vote to choose the winner. Contests are great vehicles for engaging customers, creative people in the community, Halloween enthusiasts and social media.
Create a Mysterious Environment
Dim lighting, candles, skeletal branches and dry leaves can create a powerful Halloween atmosphere without spending a lot of money.
Arrange Halloween Entertainment
Promotional ideas for Halloween include hosting a magic show, séance, Hannibal Lecter cooking class, scavenger hunt, murder mystery or costumed play or event relating to the holiday.
Offer Free Food or Incentives
Offer free food for kids who come in costumes but only when accompanied by one or more adults. You should limit the offer to family members, or a designated Mother Hubbard might bring every kid in the neighborhood. You can also offer special beverages, desserts, appetizers or prices to diners during the Halloween weekend, week or month.
Sponsor a Pumpkin-Carving Contest
You might sponsor a pumpkin-carving contest between chefs, surgeons or local celebrities or open the competition to anyone who wants to carve a niche in the Halloween Gallery of Ghouls.
Push an Anti-Halloween Nutritional Message
Healthy restaurants have an ideal opportunity during and after the holiday to promote healthier eating to make up for all the candy and junk foods that kids eat during and after Halloween.
If none of these ideas make your blood run cold, ask your staff and customers what kind of promotion they’d enjoy. You’re sure to get some zombie-pleasing, eccentric ideas that just might terrify your customers in a good way that generates big profits for your restaurant.