The Appropriation of International Holidays
While many people may be recovering from a weekend of binge-watching Stranger Things Season 2, covering themselves in fake blood and fancy dress make-up, undertaking scary film marathons or doing everything possible to avoid Halloween related activities whilst bracing themselves for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters, many people are already looking much further ahead.
For many, Halloween and Bonfire Night mark the beginning of the Christmas period. By the start of November, 43.2% of people in the UK have already started planning their Christmas present shopping (TGI 2017 Q4). So why is there so much disparity between Halloween advertising and Christmas advertising?
The answer may seem glaringly obvious; Halloween is often seen as being a celebration of death and fear and Christmas being perceived as a celebration of life and love, but are these stereotypical views a reflection of reality? One strength of Christmas advertising is the celebration of nuances in our behaviour around the festive period, whereas Halloween advertising seems to be centered around activities largely appropriated from America.
Let’s celebrate creativity
Supermarket brands dominate the Family Halloween ad landscape, with ALDI and Asda dominating the TV space in the lead up to Halloween with their musical TV spots promoting their Halloween offerings. These adverts celebrate the family fun of Halloween using a very, let’s say ‘traditional’ approach to fancy dress, but one of the best parts of Halloween is the creativity.
Fancy dress offers people the opportunity to get creative with their costumes and this aspect is somewhat underappreciated.
Fragmented celebration timelines extend the opportunity for brands
It may be that the fragmented nature of the celebration of events that are not recognized public holidays make it less appealing for advertisers who seek to identify a moment. However, like Christmas, Halloween is a holiday largely centered around preparation; decorations, baking Halloween-themed goodies, pumpkin carving, fancy-dress outfit decisions and ensuring you have a good supply of sweets. There is an abundance of moments and behaviours in this preparation that advertisers can tap in to.
We’re all about appropriation
Halloween advertising often omits these nuances of Halloween celebrations, missing a significant opportunity to celebrate the weird and wonderful of how the British public make an appropriated international holiday their own. Social media is a great place to start for the discovery of these nuances.
We like to make things our own, so let’s celebrate it.