To help peddle products for Halloween, Madison Avenue has found something scarier than ghosts, ghouls or goblins: the economy. Typically, marketers trying to sell Halloween candy, costumes, movies or merchandise festoon their advertisements with images of bats, skeletons, monsters and other creatures.
That approach has become increasingly popular as Halloween grows in its appeal as a celebration for adults as well as children. But for millions of Americans, the credit crisis and the stock market turmoil have taken more of a toll on their lives than any werewolf, warlock or witch. So ads for Halloween 2008 are focused more on frugality than fright. “Get hauntingly great savings on Halloween candy, decor and novelties,” proclaim circulars for the Rite Aid chain of drugstores. Other ads also borrow from the usual Halloween cliches, but add in the retailers’ own gimmicks. “No tricks, only treats,” promise ads for Pulte Homes that offers “monster savings” like a free year’s membership to the local homeowners’ association if a contract is submitted by Halloween. “The real trick?” asks ads for Wal-Mart that depict children. The answer, according to the ads, is “saving money on the favourite treats.”
Several marketers are particularly keen on alliteration. The Walgreen drugstore chain assures shoppers they will find “scary savings” on Wyeth brands such as Advil, Centrum and Robitussin. Papa John’s, the pizza chain, is promoting “spooky specials” along with “deals so good they’re scary.”
“Halloween is a huge day for Papa John’s and having it fall on a Friday is a double benefit,” said Jim Ensign, vice-president for marketing communications at Papa John’s International in Louisville, “because we know there will be a lot of big parties.” At the same time, “we certainly are seeing our consumers feel the same pressure everyone’s feeling” because of the economy, Ensign said, so the chain wants “to present a good value for the consumer, especially right now, at a time when people are counting every penny.”
Visa USA is offering a similar pitch by sending e-mails to those signed up for the company’s monthly e-mail newsletters, which offer discounts. A main reason for the emphasis in Halloween ads on savings rather than spooks is data suggesting that shoppers have significantly cut spending for discretionary purchases such as clothing, home furnishings, electronics and restaurant meals.
7 months ago