Spotlight: Don’t Let Your Halloween Advertising Haunt You

Oct 17th '23

If you’re about to launch some spooktacular specials for Halloween, take care not to cause fear, distress or offence and make sure you appropriately target your ads.


Here are some tricks or treats to keep in mind to avoid any Halloween related advertising agony:


  • Placement: When you are deciding which mediums to use, think about who could see the ad. If it’s on a poster or billboard, what proportion of the audience will be children?
  • Timing: Use available tools to target the ad appropriately.
  • Content: Consider how consumers will feel about the content of your ad and whether it is likely to cause fear, distress, or offence.


A creepy doll fell afoul of the Codes in 2019 when the ASA upheld a complaint about a poster by Roadshow NZ for the horror movie ‘Child’s Play’. The ad showed a picture of a doll with one red eye. The doll was holding a knife, and the text on the poster said: ‘Time to Play.’ The posters were large and displayed in a range of public locations.


But not at all creepy figures overstep the line. In 2017 the Complaints Board ruled a Roadshow NZ advertisement on the back of a bus for the horror movie ‘IT’ showing a ghostly arm holding a balloon out to a child did not breach the threshold and was not upheld.


Influencers Fang-tastic Finds

If you work with an influencer, or you are an influencer promoting Halloween products, maybe some boo-tiful makeup or witchy wardrobes, then you must make it clear your ad is an ad. Check our Influencers Quick Guide before posting.


Trick or Treat

Working in the treat space? Avoid a sticky ending by following the rules restricting food and beverage ads targeting in the Children and Young People’s Advertising Code.


Have a question?  To support responsible advertising, the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) runs the AdHelp Information Service, a user-pays service for advertisers and agencies for questions regarding advertising compliance.



They also have Quick Guide resources available. The Check It Before You Release It Quick Guide shows the top things you need to consider before releasing an advertisement.


Source: ASA


About the New Zealand ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an organisation that investigates breaches of advertising standards in New Zealand. The ASA provides a free complaints process for consumers about the content and placement of advertisements. In assessing complaints, the ASA apply the ASA Advertising Codes.


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