Rescheduling Halloween

By now, you’ve likely heard about the petition circulating online to change Halloween in the United States from October 31 to the last Saturday of October. It’s an interesting proposition. Halloween lovers have always hated weekday celebrations and brands like Snickers are already on board with this nascent “social movement” because, well, why wouldn’t they be? There have to be a lot more “fun size” candy bars doled out on a Saturday than there are on a Tuesday.

In the courses I teach at the local university, we call this “trendjacking.” That is, leveraging a hot topic to drive awareness for your own brand. Remember when the lights went out at the Super Bowl and Oreo made a fun (and super fast) tweet about it? “You can still dunk in the dark,” it said, and while it may or may not have sold any additional overly-processed cookies, it absolutely put the brand into the spotlight (no pun intended). Textbooks (yes they still exist) now use the Oreo tweet as a defining moment in social media marketing history.

That’s a lot of free publicity.

Trendjacking doesn’t always work, mostly because it has become so popular. You can bet your smelly, rubber William Shatner mask that Snickers won’t be the only candy maker to jump on board the “let’s move Halloween” train. And the more brands that try to hijack a trend, the less consumers pay attention. Digital cynics get suspicious quickly, and if you’re not careful, you can become a punchline instead of being in on the joke.

So what should you do improve your trendjacking success? Here are a couple of tips:

  1. Jump on early – as stated above, once it becomes crowded, a trend tends to lose some of its effectiveness for selling your brand.
  2. Quality counts – the Oreo tweet worked because it was well made (even with such a short timeline). Clever writing and impactful visuals are still important, even when you are in a hurry.
  3. Be ready to move on – trends don’t last forever. Keep your eye out, take advantage of the wave, then be prepared for the next big thing. Trendjacking isn’t the basis for an entire marketing campaign. It’s just a fun, timely way to add to your social media calendar.

Are you ready to make a robot costume out of old cardboard boxes? Be sure to make the eye holes big enough, or you’ll trip over the other revelers this Halloween, whether it is on October 31 or not. Then keep your eyes and ears open for the next trend. With any luck, it will be a “fun size” opportunity to build your brand.