Trick or Trifecta

It’s that time of the season where we just witnessed two traditions from opposite ends of the world collide. Both involved the parading of outlandish outfits, were all fun and games and the chance for marketing managers to see winnings spikes for the October and November. Except one involved the bartering of candy for a spook show by trick or treaters and copious amounts of makeup and costumes, while the other witnessed a herd of suited up racegoers looking for the most promising bookie to place their bets, but whose losses and humiliation were concealed by the wonders of alcohol. And much like Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey resurrecting at Christmas time, so too are retailers and other companies scrambling to boost their sales volume and customer’s share of wallet. 

Halloween’s popularity keeps bubbling and brewing year on year, with neighbours meeting each other for the very first time while stocking their pantries with lollies to prepare for the infinite string of door knocking on the evening of October 31st. Although the cost of Halloween in Australia wouldn’t match the US’s $12.8 billion price tag on costumes, candy and decorations, we don’t seem to be too far off. Brands are embracing it more than ever and are following suit with their advertising and campaigns. If I had a dollar for every time a brand used “Spooktacular” in their advertising, I would probably be close to retiring. Take Fantastic Furniture’s recent campaign on hunting for Australia’s scariest sofas, which asked Aussies to submit their sofa horror story for a chance to win a $3000 lounge room makeover. And Fanta, which has collaborated with the social media app TikTok, encouraging Australians to choose them in the lead up to Halloween, with the tagline ‘Bold choice. Bold taste.’ Until we find something original to replace America’s tradition, we, especially brands, should embrace it and enjoy it. 

We undertook a recent poll through our New Zealand community Opinion Compare, asking for their common thoughts around the spooky season, and the results were mixed. While 53% of poll participants said it was overhyped and becoming too Americanised, 37% believed it was fun for the kids to get dressed up and creative. I quite like the latter’s stance. Back in 2005, Halloween in Australia looked a little less alive, and would only consist of a horror movie marathon night. It was also the year I went on my first trip to the United States as a 10-year-old during Halloween. The houses were decked from head to toe in brilliant artworks and masterpieces. I couldn’t help but marvel at this sorcery the Americans were creating. We visited a pumpkin field that stretched for acres and acres while our family friends enlightened me on the origin of Halloween. Fast forward to present times, and we seemed to have come a long way in bringing Halloween to life, in the form of the dead. 

While Halloween is starting to thrive, the Melbourne Cup hasn’t quite mounted up to the hype it normally generates year after year. As one of the biggest horse races in the world since 1861, these last few years it suffered animal cruelty investigations and other allegations, with the recent welfare scandal being associated with a swift knock to attendance figures this year and undermining the integrity of the race. Whether this was correlation or causation, there was a much cooler sense in the air this year. National viewership was down from 2.5 million viewers last year to 1.9 million viewers this year, with some businesses turning their backs on the public holiday to say #nuptothecup. Nevertheless, the marketing is well and truly holding steady steed, with an upgrade of attractions and entertainment this year. And despite the negative reception it has endured recently, the enjoyment is still there, with millions tuning in for even those three brief minutes of the major race, egging on their horse. We asked our Kiwi friends what their thoughts were on the Melbourne Cup in general, and 38% said they enjoy watching it, but that it wasn’t really a big deal for them. 

When the marketplace gets overcrowded and bursting at the seams during busy times like these, the common challenge of marketing managers is to stand out from the competition with a unique point of differentiation. No matter what campaign or strategy your opting to action, from targeting a segment, to implementing integrated marketing communications, we at The Interpreters see this constantly, and seek to help brands discover and fortify their current positioning in the market. The result is helping brands ultimately win the hearts and minds of current and prospective customers. Whether you’re adding the classic ‘Halloween edition’ into your product line, or simply just experimenting with an integrated marketing campaign that might stretch beyond your comfort zone, we’re here to provide testing grounds and validation.

By Barbara Potiriadis

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