Mars partners with Disney for Halloween short film series amid altered holiday

Dive Brief:

  • Candy maker Mars is sponsoring the Bite Size Halloween series, which showcases short films to help families celebrate Halloween. The films will air on Freeform, FX and on Hulu’s Huluween Hub, per to a press release emailed to Marketing Dive by Disney.
  • Two films will feature integrations of Halloween versions of M&Ms and Skittles, while others are branded by Twix, Snickers and M&Ms. The films, which all run two minutes long and were made in collaboration with 20th Digital Studio and Disney Advertising Sales, will air Oct. 4-31.
  • As the coronavirus pandemic upends traditional Halloween plans, the Bite Size Halloween series could help Mars reach homebound consumers, who have been streaming more content, across a variety of Disney-owned properties.

Dive Insight:

Mars continues to innovate its Halloween marketing plans as the pandemic makes a traditional version of the holiday — with trick-or-treating and costume parties — impossible. Previously, the company launched a month-long virtual Halloween experience called Treat Town to keep its brands top-of-mind and drive sales for a holiday that is a “mega-moment” for the company.

Bite Size Halloween is another effort to engage with homebound consumers and taps into the increased content streaming that has been accelerated by the pandemic. With its deep partnership with Disney, made in collaboration with its 20th Digital Studio and Disney Advertising Sales and airing on a handful of its networks and Hulu, Mars can reach viewers through both branding and product integration as they search for Halloween-related content.

Disney noted in its statement that the series, previously known as Bite Size Horror, reached the highest ad retention of any advertiser in October 2017 when it was also sponsored by Mars and saw noteworthy social media engagement surrounding the films and brands. The series went on to win the “Best of the Best” in Short-Form Fiction by the 2018 Brand Film Festival, the company said. Those successes likely made sponsoring the series a no-brainer for Mars as it alters its Halloween ad plans.

“The Halloween program from 20th Digital Studio during the 2017 season drove tremendous results, and we’re bringing Bite Size Halloween back this year to offer clients like Mars a platform to elevate their brands and engage their consumers at the right moment,” Jerry Daniello, senior vice president of entertainment brand solutions at Disney Advertising Sales, said in the statement.

The candy company stands alongside other brands like Jose Cuervo and Hormel that have used films in their content marketing strategy. KitchenAid also released a documentary on Hulu that was directed by an Oscar-winning filmmaker and features no product shots of the Whirlpool brand. Marketers boosted their spending on content marketing in 2019 by an average of 73% over two years, and the format has remained popular during the pandemic.

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