Bewitching Halloween prize promotions

Bewitching Halloween prize promotions

Strangely enough, whenever I leave the house I see people wearing masks, so perhaps the build-up has started early this year. Granted, I don’t have the gift of second sight so I’m not going to second-guess what rules to stop the spread of the evil corona virus will be in place by 31 October. However, even if it’s permitted, the prospect of socially distanced trick or treating seems slightly scary and by the time Halloween comes around the streets may well have fallen spookily silent once again.

Circle the date

Of course, Halloween is one of the key events in the prize promotions calendar and, national lockdowns notwithstanding, that’s still the case. More than an excuse to re-watch all the Modern Family Halloween episodes back to back, it’s a great theme to hang not just cobwebs but a prize promotion on, because the iconography of witches, skeletons and ghosts is instantly recognisable; there’s enormous scope for creativity in your competition concept; and it’s basically a lot of fun, for children and adults alike.

It comes round every year – that’s the bone-cracking, eyeball-munching joy of it – and we’ve written before about the magic of Halloween promotions and how Prizeology’s spellbinding terms and conditions will guarantee you customer loyalty for all eternity (not really – we’re still working on that), but the devil is always in the detail and getting the targeting of your prize promotion right is also important here.

Whether it’s a straightforward social media giveaway, a more sophisticated prize draw or a scratch card campaign, work out who the audience for your promotion is and where it will be visible, because that determines what imagery will be appropriate. Basically, if there’s a possibility that your promotion will be seen by children, for instance if it’s an on-pack promotion destined for supermarket aisles, then keep the fright factor low and don’t go over the top with gore.

Clowning around

Back in 2015 the ASA upheld complaints about a poster which appeared in public places promoting a Halloween event that used a picture of a white-faced clown. OK, some people, me included, find clowns rather creepy and, indeed, coulrophobia or the irrational fear of clowns is a genuine phobia, but if you’re a circus, say, or a clown soft toy company then using one in a promotion makes perfect sense.

However, on this particular poster – and these are the words of the ASA – “The clown’s eyes were bright red with dark circles around which contained stitches. Its forehead also contained a number of stitches, and blood dripped from various parts of its face, including its mouth, which was black and appeared to have been cut open. It also wore a blood-stained ruff.”

Fine line

I can understand why children were distressed by this image and they were exposed to it because it appeared on untargeted outdoor poster sites. However, if the promotion had appeared in, say, an email to named subscribers who had opted in to receive an events newsletter from a venue and had verified that they were over 18, the image might have been less likely to cause offence and less likely to have crossed the acceptability line.

What the CAP Code says on this topic is, “Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.”

At Prizeology we’ve got tons of experience at staying on the right side of that acceptability line, so just give us a call on 020 7856 0402 or drop us line on hello@prizeology.com if you’d like us to conjure up a Halloween promotion for your brand or business. You’ll see the pumpkin in our window.

Poppy Smith is Prizeology’s  Prize Promotion Assistant. She bloody loves Halloween.

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