Food & Beverage

Halloween (Branding) Hookups and Candy Collabs

Collabs are simply the best strategy for enabling companies to step out of the day to day marketing norm and re-introduce themselves to their customers in new and exciting ways. Some of the most unique and memorable brand partnerships are tied to specific seasons and holidays. We've already covered some fall co-branding examples; now, with Halloween looming, it’s time to indulge our sweet tooth. Here are five of the best candy and Halloween-themed collaborations we’ve seen (so far).

Trident Vibes x Sour Patch Kids: Sugarless to Sugar-Coated

Here's an unexpected pairing: Trident, a sugarless gum whose identity centers around how much dentists like it, and, well, a chewable candy that is literally covered in sugar.

The resulting gum from this ongoing candy-themed collab has a crunchy, tangy, sour outer shell that gives way to a sweet, chewy Sour Patch Kids-flavored center. Is this gum intended for actual kids or for adults’ inner children? Maybe the answer to that question isn’t as important as the bite-sized hip-hop banger Chlöe Bailey released to promote the collab, “Chew the Vibes.” No matter how you slice it, this exciting collab energy is helping Trident revitalize its image and appeal to a new, younger target audience. 

Uber x Scooby Doo, Spongebob, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rideshare Costume Party

Let’s face it: after a night of spooky Halloween shenanigans, catching a plain old Uber home can feel a little anticlimactic. Wouldn’t it be fang-tastic if you could match your costume to your rideshare?

For a few lucky Uber users, that’s exactly what happened last Halloween. When riders in certain cities placed an order for an Uber X ride, they had a chance to be taken for a spectral spin in one of several unique rides Uber arranged for the occasion. 

In Miami, riders had a chance to hit the streets in the Ninja Turtles’ Party Wagon. Uber scared up the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine for Atlanta, and a few lucky Los Angeles riders got to cruise in SpongeBob SquarePants’ Patty Wagon.

By leveraging these super-sweet custom rides, Uber tapped into their target audience’s memory banks to deliver a dose of cartoon-themed nostalgia. They also delivered a timely Halloween reminder that Uber is a safe option for getting home after a little too much “witch’s brew.”

Hershey's Kisses x Glamlite: Have Your Chocolate, and Wear it Too

What’s Halloween without some chocolate? Thankfully, Hershey’s Kisses and Glamlite have us covered with this team-up. Okay, technically, it debuted ahead of Valentine’s Day 2022, but it still satisfies our collab cocoa craving.

This is one of those brand partnerships that offers a clear benefit to both participants. For Hershey’s, it was an opportunity to get the instantly-recognizable shape and style of their signature Kisses candies into purses everywhere. Featuring different Kisses' flavors, the palettes included colors inspired by cookies 'n' creme, lava cake, milk and dark chocolate.

For Glamlite, this was an opportunity to leverage Kisses’ distinct foil colors to help the chocolate-maker reintroduce its product to audiences in a fresh, fun way. Glamlite also recognized how important it was to make this collab affordable, offering individual products from $8 – 28 and a special bundle at $145 that included a limited-edition palette storage box.

The sweetest thing about this collab is that it’s still ongoing – in addition to the makeup palettes, chocoholics can also pick up a lip gloss set with the same flavors.

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ x Vans: Creepy Capsule Collection

Halloween is an excellent opportunity for not-so-scary brands to release unique products that might fall flat at other times of the year. Leveraging the holiday to showcase a brand’s edgy side is a great way to reconnect with a target audience and get fans talking.

In Fall 2019, SoCal skate-wear brand Vans did just that. Despite their countercultural street cred (you may have heard of the ‘Vans’ Warped Tour), creepy and scary design elements are at best adjacent to their brand. After leveraging their existing relationship with Disney to get access to the beloved ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ characters, Vans took full advantage of the opportunity to skate on the spooky side. 

The collaboration strategy was simple: produce a capsule collection packed with dreadful one-of-a-kind delights that the brands' shared audience was sure to devour, like a Jack Skellington hoodie and a long-sleeve shirt patterned after Sally’s distinct hand-stitched look. Vans also seamlessly incorporated their iconic checkerboard look into many of the capsule's designs, including no fewer than 10 styles of shoes.

Although this collection is long gone, the collab energy is still going strong: Vans recently released a capsule collection celebrating 50 years of Disney theme parks.

Dungeons & Dragons x NERDS: Candy-Themed Characters Get an Exclusive Unlockable Campaign

No need to cast Charm for this brand collaboration! Last fall, Dungeons & Dragons ("D&D" to players and fans) and NERDS candy rolled up a cheeky collab that hinted at the popular tabletop game's geeky origins. 

This playfulness set the tone for a collaboration packed with more charisma than a level 20 Bard (if you know, you know). To engage their target audience, the brands took the six NERDS characters - each of which represents a personality such as creativity, logic, or curiosity - and matched them up with iconic D&D classes, bringing to life characters like Pink the Rogue, Purple the Wizard, and Yellow the Cleric.

People who bought the candy could upload a picture of their receipt to unlock different parts of the Rising Harmony D&D campaign designed exclusively for this partnership. D&D even offered wallpapers and Twitch emotes through their site to help spread the word. When you have a partnership between brands as self-aware as these two, fun is bound to follow.These brand partnerships took advantage of the Halloween season to put on a costume (of sorts), give their target audiences a sweet treat, and then return to collab status quo -- just in time to lay out a collaboration strategy for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Andy Heddle
Andy, heads up our business development work here at Colaboratory. Originally from England, he married a Scot and now lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two American-born daughters.