By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude
Hours from now, ghosts and goblins, and other scary creatures — for example Lady Gaga and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich — will be scampering up the stairs of our Chicago home to commemorate an annual pagan celebration now fully commercialized and called Halloween.
Once a relatively quiet holiday just for kids, Halloween has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Did you know more than $1 billion is spent on fake cobwebs, tombstones, pseudo monsters and other outdoor decorations alone? Quite an impressive sum, especially knowing this explosion of Halloween hoopla happened in the past few years.
This development is ripe for sound public relations strategies and tactics that can help building awareness, acceptance and action for a product, service, cause or candidate. Here are some suggestions from the PRDude to help guide marketers and communications for Halloween 2011. For the record, tonight I’m dressing up as a grumpy middle-aged guy and we’re giving out Butterfingers.
- Lock in Licensing Rights. Why not? Just think of all the potential products and services that could benefit from a scary, spooky branding campaign! Some organizations, like your local Department of Motor Vehicle Services, already provide frightening experiences. But imagine your hospital or clinic client being known as “The Place Ghouls Go for Real Healthcare.” Or, your bridal shop getting an endorsement from Mrs. Frankenstein.
- Carpe Dien. Seize October 31st. Everyone knows what falls on October 31 — one of the biggest refined sugar-eating days of the year. Companies that use a lot of high fructose corn syrup should form a coalition and launch an awareness campaign that kicks off Halloween Night to promote the health benefits of the product. True, this stuff really is bad for your health, but so what. Who could resist a pitch coming from a nice guy like Count Dracula?
- Create Halloween Year-round. Why settle for the month of October! How about incorporating Halloween into a 365-day promotion or theme? Think of the possibilities: Companies could let workers dress in costume year-round as a way to building morale, and get around enforcement of a dress code. Developers could build Halloween-themed sub-divisions geared to the Goth crowd. There’s even a ready-made theme song, “Everyday is Halloween, “ from the Chicago industrial-synth band Ministry.
- Politics is Now Black and Orange. Since Halloween precedes November elections, those practitioners who represent political candidates should have no trouble creating attack ads portraying the opposition as a monster, a clown or a ghost-payroller. Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Delaware, of course has brilliantly counter-punched against allegations that she dabbled in witchcraft.
Well, it’s getting near the witching hour and the doorbell has sounded. Now, where’s those *&#@% Butterfingers.