When I was a child in the 60s and 70s and growing up in Catholic Austria, Halloween did not exist and nor did it in many other European (and certainly not Eastern European) countries. Not so in the UK of course and the US. It was there in the 1970s where I first encountered the Trick or Treating custom, where children dress up in costumes and go from door to door and they knock on the door, or ring the doorbell, and yell 'Trick or treat!'. The idea being that the owners of the house give the children a treat (sweets or money) or the children will play a trick on them.
Of course, Halloween-themed advertising, especially for confectionery products, has been around in the English-speaking world for as long if not longer. It did also grow exponentially in Germany over the past 20 years or so, even though there is no long tradition of it. It's mostly viewed as an occasion for partying while being disguised as witches, skeletons, etc. Of course, there are always, unavoidably, lots of "sexy nurses.". For the ad industry here it's nowhere the big event it is in the US and UK where special Halloween campaigns get produced. Perhaps not quite as much as for Christmas but quite often with results that are much easier to stomach than the overblown, sappy Christmas epics we get served each festive season.
Two interesting examples of this came this week and I wanted to share them with you. The first is a new commercial for Shiseido cosmetics, a brand that has been known for extraordinary creative work – produced by Shiseido in-house as it has been for many decades. Their previous effort,"High School Girl?", from 2015, won tons of awards, among them the Epica Grand Prix in November of that year and a couple of Gold Lions at Cannes in June 2016. The film featured a teacher who enters the classroom to find a group of schoolgirls waiting. One by one, their make-up and wigs are removed to reveal that both the students and the teacher herself are really young men.
Its successor, "The Party Bus" has a teenage girl as its main protagonist. She finds herself at a Halloween party with lots of fantastically costumed guests and her attention wavering between a black Dracula and a samurai. As in the brand’s previous film, the story comes with a twist. Creative Director Masato Kosukegawa claims that that its inclusive approach is significant in Japan, which has rarely explored LGBTQ topics in its advertising.
It's directed by Show Yanagisawa, who also helmed High School Girl? and showcases a similar attention to detail in its craft, which mixes live action shots with scenes of stop-motion animation, as our main protagonist's lipstick forms characters which dance across her face.
The making-of film, featuring storyboards and revealing the inspirations behind the animations included in the ad, is below: