Decorative Halloween cookies as creative background
Picture of Kiera Wiatrak

Kiera Wiatrak

How to capitalize on cultural moments in your content marketing

Halloween is my all time favorite holiday. Frankly, I love everything about it. I love the festivities. I love the eye candy of colors and costumes. I love cheering on everyone’s creativity. I love the spookiness of it. I love bringing the darker things in life to light and celebrating them.

I also love integrating Halloween into my work, which is evident in this blog post, as well as in this week’s Nibbler. Thinking about Halloween, and how excited it gets me, got me thinking about ways marketers can capitalize on holidays and cultural moments in their content marketing.

Brands that use culturally relevant marketing are more relevant to consumers. Culturally relevant ads are 3.8 times more likely to enhance brand perception, and over 25% of product purchasing decisions are driven by cultural relevance.

Here are 5 ways marketers can align content strategy with major cultural events.

1. First, find the universal factor 

What about this cultural moment is uniting people and communities? Before you can infuse a moment into your content, you first have to intrinsically understand what about it is resonating on a larger scale. What universal themes is it hitting on?

You’ll have to dig deep to answer that question. On the surface, Halloween is about dressing up, having fun, and being scared. But some of the reasons it is so meaningful to so many people include the creative outlet, the opportunity to play with your identity, and the camaraderie around facing the scary things in life head on, as a community.

To spotlight the self-expression central to the holiday, NYX Cosmetics shares Halloween makeup tutorials using their products. They teamed up with TikTok-famous illusion makeup artist Mimi Choi to create step-by-step videos showcasing transformations for classic and trendy costumes alike. By providing a platform for creativity, self-expression, and community, NYX’s campaign connects with universal themes unique to the holiday.

2. Identify the intersection of your brand and the moment

When creating content around cultural moments, it’s key to find authentic ways your brand can add value, as opposed to forcing that connection. Get creative with products, services, content or experiences only your brand can offer to create that all-important intersection between your brand and the cultural zeitgeist.

Paying homage to a horror classic, Ikea created a video ad mirroring an iconic scene from The Shining. The video shows a child riding a tricycle through their labyrinthine showrooms, passing haunting vignettes in the rooms along the way. The ad ends by advertising Ikea’s extended hours for late night shopping. This campaign highlights how Ikea can be part of consumers’ Halloween preparations while reimagining a classic cultural moment from a film many will watch (or rewatch) during the season.

Similarly, Heinz launched limited edition, glow-in-the-dark “Tomato Blood” ketchup bottles one Halloween to add a festive and spooky flair to their meals. To promote the product, they held a social media contest challenging fans to create their own transformation videos using the ketchup. This allowed Heinz to squeeze (pun intended) their brand into the holiday in an on-theme way that spread excitement and tapped into gamification.

Get creative within the boundaries of your brand identity to develop products, content and experiences that highlight your unique tie to the festivities. Finding your niche in the season or the moment is key.

3. Say something new

It can be tempting to rely on tried and true holiday tropes in your content marketing around cultural moments. But to truly capitalize on the opportunity, you need to come at these high-engagement times from a fresh angle. Surprising your audience with an unexpected spin allows you to break through the noise.

In 2018, Colombian retailer Almacenes Éxito created an awareness campaign about endangered species for Halloween. Rather than selling run-of-the-mill animal costumes, they designed costumes depicting four threatened Colombian species – the jaguar, the sloth bear, the orinoco crocodile, and the Andean bear.

This flipped the script on a common Halloween purchase to spread an important message of conservation uniquely tied to their locale. In a tear-jerking yet hopeful video, the retailer showed children dressed as the endangered animals reciting facts about the species, tapping into viewers’ emotions and leaving a lasting impression.

Thinking creatively about how you can put a new spin on cultural moments for your content takes work, but it allows you to surprise and delight your audience when they expected the familiar.

4. Solve a problem

Holidays and events often come with their own set of frustrations for consumers. Finding ways to alleviate these pain points in your marketing content is a great way to build goodwill and loyalty.

Halloween night comes with the anxiety of running out of candy and disappointing hordes of trick-or-treaters. As an artful solution, Mars launched their Halloween Rescue Squad campaign, partnering with delivery service GoPuff to provide emergency M&M deliveries on Halloween night.

By having GoPuff couriers on standby to replenish candy bowls within an hour, Mars provided a clever solution to a common Halloween headache. This shows customers they understand and can solve the challenges that come with one of their favorite celebrations.

It doesn’t have to be complex – simply identifying key holiday frustrations and demonstrating your brand’s ability to address them builds affinity and trust. Consumers see your brand has their back, even during the spookiest times.

5. Be relentlessly entertaining

One of the most effective ways to capture attention and leave a lasting impression is to leave your viewers laughing and thoroughly entertained. Think stunts, parties, contests, memes, viral videos. Lean into the parts of the occasion that lend themselves to play and over-the-top fun, both of which are abundant at Halloween.

To promote their ultra high-definition monitors around Halloween, LG created a viral video prank. They replaced the floor of an elevator with the monitors and showed footage of the floor falling away. The incredibly realistic picture quality made the prank believable, and had the unsuspecting people in the elevator gripping the handrails for dear life.

This playful stunt used their product’s main selling point, its intense realism, to create a horror-worthy jump scare in an enormously entertaining way, which has rewarded them a whopping 53 million views.

While stunts like this require serious resources, they demonstrate the power of leaving viewers entertained. LG is not a brand they will be forgetting any time soon.

No matter the size of your brand, you can find content marketing opportunities that capitalize on the hype of important cultural moments in an impactful way. The rewards for effectively embedding your brand in meaningful celebrations, such as Halloween, are high. So get your thinking caps on, embrace the spirit of the season, and use these tips to make your marketing magic.

Happy Halloween! 🎃 👻

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