Pile of candy corn

Hallowe’en: The Great PR Spin

Pumpkins are carved, candy bowls are filled, and radio stations are playing Monster Mash every hour. That can only mean one thing – Hallowe’en! 

But have you ever stopped to wonder, “why am I handing out chocolate bars to strange kids dressed up as Paw Patrol characters and ghosts?”

Spoiler Alert: It’s one of the greatest PR spins in history. 

Hallowe’en didn’t start out as Hallowe’en, or even in North America! It all began in Ireland, with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Running from October 31 to November 1, Samhain marks the beginning of harvest. People would light bonfires, wear costumes to ward off evil spirits, and fill hollowed out turnips with coal. When the Great Potato Famine hit in 1845, Irish immigrants brought their Hallowe’en traditions along with them. This included costumes, asking neighbors for food and money, and pulling pranks.

Post WW2, Candy companies saw a HUGE opportunity to take a little Irish holiday to a whole new level. Companies crafted and launched nationwide Hallowe’en candy advertising campaigns. Localized trick or treating became a hot new trend that other companies and brands wanted to join. The iconic comic strip Peanuts joined in on the fun with three Hallowe’en-themed strips featuring the gang dressed up for trick or treating. Walt Disney created an eight-minute short, Donald Duck – Trick or Treat,  that showed kids exactly how it was done. Schools even hopped on the tradition, giving kids UNICEF boxes to take along on their trick-or-treating. 

What started out as a folk tradition, grew with strategic planning, spinning and execution to become the multi-billion dollar holiday we know today. So next time a kid thanks you for their candy, tell them to thank a publicist instead!

Follow Front Door PR for more social media/marketing tips, events and fun behind-the-scenes on our Instagram page @FrontDoorPR

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