Thursday, October 26, 2017

Smarter Halloween

A post shared by arthur_amerinz (@arthur_amerinz) on

The photo above is of a flyer delivered to our letterbox a couple days ago. The Instagram caption pretty well describes it, and it is a much smarter approach toward Halloween than we usually see in New Zealand. It’s a good thing.

Halloween isn’t that big a deal in New Zealand, but Trick or Treating is even less of a thing here though much more controversial. Many people do, indeed, object to it as a “creeping Americanism”, but I’ve also seen people object for what I think is a bizarre reason: They think it teaches kids to “beg”, or even to expect something for nothing (apparently, dressing in costume isn’t something?). Most people are probably just indifferent to Trick or Treating (they’re Kiwis, after all…), while some people love it and others truly hate it.

Years ago, I thought the answer would be some sort of sign that people could put up to welcome Trick or Treaters. I worked for newspapers at the time, and I thought the obvious solution was for the local paper to sell ads around sign printed vertically on a page, or horizontally across the centre-spread (if there were enough ads sold). I’m not aware of any papers actually doing that, though maybe it happened.

The closest I saw to the sort of thing I was talking about was way back in 2009 when the NZ Police created some posters that people could download, print out, and put on their house or front gate to let kids know if trick or treaters were welcome or not. But no business or newspaper anywhere around me saw the opportunity I did.

Until now.

A local real estate company delivered the flyer with the balloon, and as I was basically saying in the photo caption, it will build goodwill for them. Sure, this thing was really just a form of advertising, but also an incredibly useful thing. Kind of a win/win, I’d say.

The idea of having an indicator—of any kind—that a house welcomes trick or treaters is a good thing. But I also think that a simple indicator—like a balloon, or a sign of welcome—is best because it keeps the message clear and easy to understand. That’s why the posters from the police, well-intentioned though they were, didn’t work: People had to choose which sign they wanted, and trick or treaters had to actually look at the sign to see which it was. A balloon is MUCH simpler.

I don’t know whether trick or treating is a “thing” in our new area or not. I also don’t know if we’ll use the balloon or not (I’m guessing not). But at least we have a simple, easy to use and understand symbol to convey the message if we want to, all because a local business took the initiative. And that is good advertising.

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