Spooky Fun or Insensitive Branding?

By Bethany Griffiths

Halloween has certainly changed a lot since I was a kid. It used to be a minor event that merely served to kick off the festive season – a small party at your neighbour’s decked out in ASDA’s finest (and cheapest) Halloween costume. Since then Halloween has become gradually more and more commercialised with adults and kids celebrating alike. The Halloween fun no longer stops when you’re too old to trick or treat, with various events happening all over the country tailored at an older audience to help you get in the mood of the spooky season.

As soon as the middle of September hits, excitement for the spooky season starts to unravel online. This is usually when companies, especially those located in America where Halloween is most celebrated, start to cash in on our excitement. New products are released every year to compete with the ever-increasing Halloween popularity, ranging from costumes to decorations, and even Halloween themed make up! Despite this, in the past companies have come under fire for making products that actually serve to mock certain beliefs and cultures.

A most recent example is that of the ‘witch kits’ released by beauty brand Sephora. The kit cost $42 and included tarot cards, sage, and a rose quartz crystal, but was forced to be pulled by the brand after it was heavily criticised by real witches. Unfortunately, this is a trend we are seeing more and more, especially as the Halloween season approaches. Becoming a witch involves years of practice and study, it’s not something that can just be picked up for a month over the Halloween season. Not to mention the fact that witches often face persecution and bullying for their beliefs anyway – why is it suddenly ‘cool’ for a high end make up brand to jump on the bandwagon for a month and make some quick profit off the backs of a real belief system? What happened to dressing up as a pumpkin for an evening and stuffing your face with sweets?

Halloween is a great holiday. It’s an excuse to curl up and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus wearing your favourite fluffy socks, or to dress in your spookiest outfit and chill with your mates. However, it doesn’t mean that because it’s a season to celebrate all things spooky brands need to mock and badly try and duplicate a whole believe system for ‘fun’.