Before we race headlong into the frantic holiday marketing season, I wanted to take a moment to look back on Halloween 2011 and a missed marketing opportunity. Missed that is until now.
In neighborhoods across the country, the act of ‘booi-ng’ someone has become big biz. Everyone from large candy conglomerates, to real estate brokers/agents, home product/service companies, seasonal retail shops, etc., etc., have all missed a prime seasonal marketing opportunity to create awareness and market their goods and services. Missed that is, until now. Scary right? 😉 Those not taking full advantage missed the opportunity to reach hundreds if not thousands of regional customers. Their only recourse, cry ‘boo’ hoo. Or maybe, ‘boo’ who? Allow me to explain.
For those of you neighborhood newbies, ‘boo-ing’ someone is part ding dong ditch, part trick, part treat and part chain-letter. The act of being ‘boo-ed’ takes place on a doorstep as someone you know creeps through your front yard under the cover of darkness. The goal of their covert Casper mission is to; place a ‘boo’ bundle on your doorstep, ring your doorbell and make a mad dash away from the door so as not to be seen. Upon closer examination of the ‘boo’ bundle content, the ‘boo-ee’ realizes that being ‘boo-ed’ ain’t just fun and games and that a fair amount of responsibility is attached to this seasonal ritual. It is now the responsibility of the ‘boo-ee’ to complete two very important things:
a.) Promptly post an image of a ghost (normally included in your ‘boo’ bundle) on your front door, alerting the neighborhood to the fact that you have in fact been ‘boo-ed’. This important first step prevents the costly act of multiple ‘boo-ings’. Being ‘boo-ed’ once … harmless. Being ‘boo-ed’ multiple times during the course of one Halloween season … a grave mistake that can take a real bite out of your wallet. More on that in a little bit.
b.) Find and ‘boo-ing’ others in your neighborhood.
The first year my house was ‘boo-ed’, we found a small bag with a few treats and a dime store rubber spider. Over the course of the next several years, the act of ‘boo-ing’ became a competition of sorts as one neighbor after another attempted to outdo or should I say … out-‘boo’ the next. ‘Boo-ing’ virgins out there might think that being on the receiving end of all this out-‘boo-ing’ competition would be great. ‘Boo-ing’ virgins would be wrong! Remember (b.)? “Finding and ‘boo-ing’ others in the neighborhood? This aspect of the ‘booing’ ritual involves the expectation of the ‘boo-ee’ to ‘boo’ two other homes in the neighborhood. Based on what we received this year, the mere act of ‘boo-ing’ two additional families in the neighborhood could require an impromptu credit line increase request and/or use of our home equity line. For example, this year our anonymous ‘boo-er’ bestowed upon us a large pink plastic pumpkin with tons of candy, small toys, decals, miscellaneous rubber seasonal items and a 52” flat panel HD TV. Okay, the flat panel HD TV did not fit in the pumpkin. Truth be told, the HD TV wasn’t actually in the pumpkin at all … but you get my point. Those doing the ‘boo-ing’ are going all out to really make an impression on those they ‘boo’. Sounds a lot like distinguishing your brand in the sea of competitive clutter.
As I sat in a heap of empty seasonal candy wrappers, slowly slipping into a candy corn induced coma, I couldn’t help but wonder why brands with or without a seasonal investment in Halloween, have never made a move to distinguish themselves by … ‘boo-ing’ their own brand. Before me is this brilliant pink plastic gourd, smiling up at me, eagerly awaiting to be customized and filled with not just goodies but branded messaging and materials to make a dramatic impression on the lucky recipient.
Just when I thought another Halloween would pass without someone seeing the true potential of this amazing marketing opportunity, Hershey’s entered the fray with quite possibly one of the more brilliant branding iDEAs since the advent of ‘fly-by-night’ seasonal Halloween costume shops. Hershey’s saw an opportunity to create awareness for their brand by creating and distributing a unique foam ghost that doubles as a “you’ve been ‘boo-ed'” door hanger. The door hanger prominently displays the Hershey’s parent brand and child product brands like Reese’s. The brilliant part here is that Hershey’s created brand signage of sorts by stamping their brand id and that of their products to the one ‘boo-ing’ item consumers would keep and display. Hershey’s got it! They realized that ‘boo-ing’ someone is all; about doing something out-of-the-ordinary; about having fun; about extending yourself and about enhancing an experience. Hershey’s has done all that and much more. The only question I now have is … ‘boo’ will be next?