Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'm a Brand for Halloween 2013

One of my most shared entries of 2012 was "I'm a brand for Halloween". Today, I launch the sequel.

Halloween is big business. Costume sales alone (in the USA) are expected to be around $2.75 billion.  That's almost up $1 billion from 2010. You probably see the evidence around you. There are more pop-up Halloween stores - carrying more inventory than ever before. There are even nationally branded pop-up store chains dedicated to selling Halloween costumes (e.g. Spirit Halloween). Some online stores have assortments of over 15,000 costumes and accessories. Friends, Halloween is not a side holiday. It is one joining the big ones. Halloween is as mainstream as it gets and drives right in the heart of popular culture.  And, I find it pathetic that some in the public sector/ school systems want to get rid of Halloween. I think they should be sent to the gym to play dodgeball.  (See this article by Jesse Kline on the war against Halloween.) 

Why is Halloween so cool? It's fun for kids. I remember being a kid, dressing up as a pirate, and returning home with my loot bag of candy. Halloween brought the neighbors together because everyone in the neighborhood would see everyone. For the singles, it's fun to dress up, flirt, and just escape into a spirited energy night. For parents and grandparents- it is an awwwwwwwwwwwwe filled night looking at the munchkins when they are all dolled up!

But, this blog anchors around marketing.  And, for business to consumer branders, Halloween has interesting opportunities.  Check out this the gentle marketing  on the Starbuck's blog. The "voice" of the Starbucks blog is nudging Starbucks lovers to make Starbucks part of their Halloween costumes.

Halloweens and Brand Lovers
The truth is that people can love their brands. I've blogged a lot about how brands have personality and are symbolic devices. On Halloween, branded costumes can be a signal for what the wearing is trying to communicate. If you are the Kool-Aid man, you're ready to party!  If you are the Energizer bunny, you're signalling energy all night.  Thousands of people do this.  Do some searches. You'll find no end of examples of people making costumes of their favorite brands. Here are a few:

Michelin Man Halloween costume

High on Awwwe: Pillsbury Doughboy
Oh Yeah Halloween: Kool Aid Man
Tim Bits and Tim's Coffee brand Halloween costumes
The 5 flavors of Four Loco
Highly Energized Bunny
Think of the time, effort, and commitment that the folks above went to make Halloween costumes of their favorite brands.

Now if you are a brander or marketer, think of the impact that these costumes have.

If you saw any of the costumes above, I'm guessing you'd take notice. The costumes are attention-getting and are very interesting walking ads (or crawling in the case of Pillsbury Doughboy) for the brand. In short, these costumes are awareness reminders of the brand.

Check out the girls in the Four Loco brand costumes. They are holding the Four Loko drinks (which coincidentally are the flavors they are wearing). I don't think that I am making too much of a stretch when I say that there is a pretty good chance that  if you are dressed up as a Budweiser beer on Halloween night, you're drinking a Bud. Or, if a munchkin rings your bell "Trick or treat" and is wearing an M&M's costume, I'm also thinking I'd be more prone to hand out some M&M's for the candy bag.

Profile picture for almost a year from these guys
Social network effect
Check out the guys above.  They used Halloween to get pictures with girls, which, I am guessing end up on their social media sites. By the way, their picture post on Facebook will have more branding impact than if the brand advertised on the social network itself  (see academic study on Facebook by Aral and Walker 2011).

Identified brand ambassador
Finally, and most importantly, the folks who are dressing up as brands for Halloween are identifying themselves as brand ambassadors- those who will spread the gospel of the brand. Ambassadors are not always the easiest to find. If the brand managers are on-the-ball, they can use the Halloween costume as opportunity to further engage their brand lovers.

These are some of the reasons why some brands have licensed out their brand elements (names, logos, characters) to Halloween costume manufacturers. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting costumes available this year.

Brands with most Halloween costume variety: Coca-Cola

If you would like to be Coca-Cola for Halloween this year, check out your options: bottle, can, cup - in both classic and diet. Of course, if you want to go retro you could be a Coke seller.

Brands with most Halloween costume variety: M&Ms
Each M&M character has his own personality

Brand Halloween with a family appeal
Meet the Heinz family

The baby is thinking: "Mom is hot, but dad needs to hit the gym"
Green Giant and Sprout!

Brand Halloween for couples


Brand Halloween costumes designed for merger
The King and Wendy's

 Brand team costumes: I think they came to the party together

Brand Halloween costumes that  come with the line "Can I buy you a drink?"

Capt'n Morgan

Brand Halloween costume you hope you don't see


  1. This is very funny. After reading this I went looking for Apple costumes. Seems that a few years ago people were going as Justin Long (mac) and the nerd (pc).

  2. The google costume is brilliant. Nerds can pick up hahahahahahahaha.

    A guy wrote a blog on the mac vs pc costume ideas

  4. Love it! I was a Hershey Kiss once! Mmmm...


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