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Halloween and seasonal marketing during COVID-19… 🎃

Well, Halloween’s out the window. Not that you’ll have celebrated last year’s Halloween if you’re older than eleven but, being a season, it’s a vitally important cog in retail’s grinding machine. So, how are businesses able to market themselves during the Coronavirus pandemic in ways that are meaningful, sensitive, and make sense within the context we find ourselves in?

Firstly, encouraging kids to go around knocking on people’s doors and accept non-descript treats is probably a no-go this year. And, likewise, the traditional tactic of ‘oh isn’t it great to spend time with your family this [Season]?’ is likely to ring quite bitterly for a lot of people. Either they’ll have lost family members, they’ll have gotten sick of them during lockdown, or they’ll not be able to go see their families because of new lockdowns.

Worse still, we all thought the worst was behind us.

Not to mention that this year, more than any other in recent memory, people have lost a lot of money.

It’s difficult. On the one hand, we don’t want to be pushing depressing messages. On the other hand, the glib ‘haha don’t shake my hand because of a pandemic but let’s share a burger mate’ or ‘we have always cared about pandemics (since like April or something)’ type messaging isn’t really ok either.

 

So what do we do with our seasonal marketing campaigns?

Fundamentally, chip in.

If you want to cash in on Covid-related marketing, you’d better have a good reason to – today’s audience isn’t going to lap it up just because you have a pretty bit of stock music. 

Is the service you’re offering helping people? Have you done anything to help people? How have you adapted your working practices to make your products or services more Covid-secure? How have you cared for your staff during the pandemic? How have you considered your customers during the pandemic? 

What do you have to say to people who now don’t have stacks of cash, and who largely can’t see their families?

I think, most crucially, the message should be ‘it’s ok’. The current spike is higher than it was when we first locked down, so the end isn’t just around the corner – we’re looking at least past Christmas for cases to settle down again. That doesn’t mean we hide in a hole, it means we adapt.

 

What tones to take for Christmas & Halloween marketing

To emphasise: if your business or services haven’t helped or aren’t relevant to the pandemic, don’t try to use it in your marketing.

So, what tones are ok?

The Drum recommends a focus on ‘affordability, authenticity, and action’. I’m inclined to agree.

Where usually you’d be promoting togetherness, focus on the possibility of togetherness apart. 

You can still ‘be’ with your family and friends through the variety of video chat tools available. The lack of true simultaneous audio does mean that you have to communicate in a different way than you would in person, but it’s better than nothing. And it’s also something you could incorporate into your messaging with ‘be glad you can’t talk over each other this Christmas’ type messaging.

Otherwise, the ability to order gifts online and have them delivered to your loved ones is a real benefit when you can’t physically see them. Are bespoke options available?

Video chats while eating dinner individually are also a new normal. Are there fun things you can do through video chats? Probably.

An alternative angle may be to promote temporary isolation. In the vein of the Danish Hygge, being wrapped up, cosy and warm, during winter is a really pleasant experience. If your products or services can be enjoyed solo, then lean in on that blanket-by-the-fire messaging.

With people often now in precarious work situations, spending on luxury items as seasonal gifts is likely to go down. So instead push the benefits of not-eye wateringly expensive products – you can go far in a cheap pair of good shoes!

Whatever angle you take, it needs to be real, it needs to be personal, and it needs to be relevant.

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