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Branding Hallowe'en As Dangerous Can Be Scary For Your Client's Message

It’s my favourite holiday in two days.   Hallowe’en has been number one in my books from childhood to adulthood-I love dressing up, I love getting scared, and I will be one of those fools dressed in costume on transit Friday morning.

So I’m a bit biased, but I’m beginning to be irked by the number of press releases I’ve seen lately that rely on labelling All Hallows Eve as a risky night in order to promote the message of whatever organization they represent.

I’ve seen releases  warning that candy is fattening, I’ve seen releases warning people to be careful on the roads.   And I’ve seen a whole slew of releases that play on the phrase “treat, don’t trick” to warn people off bad behaviour, even if it’s not related to Hallowe’en.

When did Hallowe’en stop being about scaring ourselves silly and start being about being scared of candy and being out after dark?

It’s funny how,  at Christmastime,  PR professionals design their messaging to match the seasonal mantras of peace and goodwill.  At Hallowe’en,  we tend to do the opposite-the messaging is all about not behaving dangerously, not indulging in certain things, and not about having as much fun as possible, which is all pretty contrary to the spirit of Hallowe’en.

It’s easy to capitalize on Hallowe’en to further clients’ messages-especially if they’re in the health and safety industries.  But if not done properly,  it can make clients look like killjoys for raining on what’s supposed to be a fun holiday.

Yes, it is a night that requires a bit of care-there are creeps and thugs who plant needles in chocolate bars or steal candy from trick-or-treating kids.  But it’s also a night where people want to have fun,  and constant reminders to not overindulge or to brush your teeth twice can make people resentful of what a client is trying to tell them.

That’s what Hallowe’en is-it’s supposed to be FUN.  Perhaps the inherent lawlessness of the night-running around in costumes,  prowling the dark streets and knocking on strange doors for candy-has people more freaked out than they care to admit.   Maybe that’s why PR professionals and organizations feel the need to constantly warn people how to behave on Hallowe’en night.

That kind of messaging can be an effective scare tactic-but it’s not the kind of scare people are seeking on October 31st.   And that can make them ignore your clients’ messages altogether.   Now, how scary is that?

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