Target Debuts Spooky Interactive 360-Degree Video Ads To Showcase Its Halloween Merchandise
The Minnesota-based retailer displays -- and links to -- its Halloween decor in immersive interactive videos set in a haunted house.
It’s always the problem with creative executions online — either you settle for using some reassuringly mainstream technology (aka boring), or you go out on a limb with something potentially dazzling and risk that some percentage of the audience won’t be able to see it. Retailer Target, with its “The House on Hallow Hill” Halloween social media effort, bravely went for the last option — with somewhat mixed results.
The retailer employed the kind of “choose your own adventure” interactivity that a number of advertisers have been employing lately — a way to let users decide for themselves how they want to move through the story elements. Then, they combined this approach with 360-degree video and click-to-buy functionality.
The video series starts with a typical suburban trick-or-treating night with costume-clad kids running around in excitement. Then, the focus shifts to an ominous-looking house — the House on Hallow Hill. Then, text tells you a raven has stolen your phone and you have to go inside to retrieve it — ample motivation, given how dependent people are on their phones these days.
That’s when the 360-degree interactive experience is supposed to start — and it works on the mobile YouTube app and on desktop in some browsers, but not in a mobile browser on the iPhone 6.
That’s because the method for interacting that Target has chosen relies on the YouTube information button — at the end of the introductory video, a pointing skeleton arm prompts users to click on the “i” button that appears only on some platforms, leaving those watching it on other platforms, like Facebook, possibly confused as to what to do next.
That said, with each 360-degree video, Target has tried to channel viewers to platforms where the experience works best.
What they’re supposed to do next is choose a room in the haunted house to explore — the Haunted Dining Hall, the Sugar Skull Cantina, the Ghoulish Graveyard or the Candy Carnival. In each room, they’re prompted to try to find the pesky raven that stole their phone.
The brand seems to have learned its lesson about possibly-confusing navigation on Twitter, where, rather than opening with the scene-setting exterior video, it has led users inside the house to start.
— Target (@Target) October 19, 2015
Once they navigate into one of the rooms, it’s possible to click and drag the video (on desktop) or tilt the phone to see a 360-degree view of the room and the action. It’s a pretty cool effect, to be sure, though it’s easily marred by a poor connection and/or small screen.
Additionally, when you click the “i,” you also have the option of shopping for the items displayed in a particular room. Target has set up special e-commerce landing pages for each of the rooms in the house, where users can buy items displayed in the videos.
Besides organic posts from the Target brand, the company has been running social ads targeting “Halloween fanatics” to spread the word about the videos.
The content seems to be racking up respectable viewership numbers thus far, with the introductory video on YouTube seeing nearly 82K views and the Facebook version posting 24K views.
Target will follow up the House on Hallow Hill videos with the launch of a social media platform called Treatster created by agency 360i. The site aims to crowdsource information from parents about the locations of well-decorated houses and those with impressive candy offerings in their neighborhoods.
Treatster is set to launch next week, and a representative says the brand hopes to relaunch Treatster every year around the Halloween holiday.