Halloween has become the 3rd biggest occasion of the year in terms of consumer spend, with around £240m being spent on costumes, confectionery and more. Kids have fully embraced the spooky fancy dress, the Halloween parties and the trick-or-treating, getting into the spirit in the run up to Halloween.

Our objective was clear: make Sainsbury’s stand out in this highly competitive landscape by adding value to our Halloween offering.


Although it’s a big night for kids to run wild, parents often find that Halloween is a difficult occasion to prepare for. They’re a bit apathetic towards it – as they never really grew up with Halloween as a big calendar event, they’re not sure how to make it a success.

But if there’s one thing we know about parents, it’s that there’s nothing they love to see more than their kid’s imagination being fired up. We knew that parents wanted easy ways to make Halloween more special for their kids and we also knew that kids love to become their characters over Halloween. Our solution needed to provide an easy way for parents to help kids become their characters for the night and make this Halloween the best ever. Knowing that smartphones are often shared between parents and their kids, we knew that mobile devices gave us a great opportunity to take Halloween celebrations up a notch.


With similar costumes across each of the competitor supermarkets, we looked at using mobile to differentiate our range of costumes.

We made Sainsbury’s Halloween costumes interactive with Spooky Speaker - a free smartphone app for iOS and Android that brought kids characters to life in a spooky and unique way for Halloween. The app used voice distortion technology to transform speech, simply by recording a phrase and playing it back in one of 6 spooky voices, complete with wonderfully animated mouths to match each of the costumes available in-store: Spellda the Witch, Rottie the Zombie, Bolthead (Frankenstein), Bones the Skeleton, Pierce the Vampire and Briggs the Pirate.

We built the app into the shopping experience by focusing on where parents were purchasing costumes, with POS driving towards downloads and showing the app in-situ with the costumes. The Sainsbury’s in-store environment was also transformed with news of the app and the great costumes available being communicated via POS, Live Well For Less magazine and to really bring the app to life, our spooky voices were even used for tannoy announcements.

We made sure plenty of people heard about our app by extending into digital media, with a paid media partnership with AOL aimed specifically at parents in the run up to Halloween. Our social posts also brought the app to life by showing it in all its ghostly glory alongside our great range of costumes.


Spooky Speaker achieved almost 40,000 downloads across both iOS and Android over a 3 week period. Considering that 90% of branded apps receive fewer than 10,000 downloads, it’s safe to say that kids and grown ups around the UK were eager to get involved with Spooky Speaker.

The app generated over 90,000 sessions, which averaged at 1.7 sessions per day per user, showing that most people opened and used Spooky Speaker more than once. The majority of downloads came within the 35-54 age bracket, indicating that our app was relevant to parents who shared devices with their young kids. Interestingly, around 10% of those who downloaded Spooky Speaker also downloaded iSpies – our smartphone gaming app that we created for the summer holidays – which suggests that a healthy proportion of parents are turning to Sainsbury’s to provide ideas for entertaining the whole family.

And in addition, we achieved a 5* rating on the app store, with brilliant reviews of our app.