Hostess tries to keep Halloween fun as festivities look different this year

Dive Brief:

  • Hostess Brands launched the “Bring Hostess Halloween Home” campaign, which will include a three-week series of content about how consumers can make tricks and treats at home, such as Frozen Twinkie Pop Mummies and Vampire Donettes, according to a press release.
  • A partnership with celebrity chef George Duran will be featured on Hostess’ social media channels and a Parade.com advertorial offering Halloween-inspired creations. Paid social media will amplify the campaign, including with GIF stickers while Instagram influencers will share goodie bag ideas. A dedicated landing page serves as a content hub for the campaign.
  • With 52% of consumers saying they plan to buy less candy this year than in previous years, Hostess is among the brands looking for a boost this holiday season by trying some new ways to engage Halloween fans as the COVID-19 pandemic upends traditional plans.

Dive Insight:

As many consumers prepare to celebrate a toned-down Halloween, Hostess Brands is hoping to keep spirits light and provide some psychological relief for consumers who are feeling extra anxiety about the safety of trick-or-treating this year by focusing on ways to celebrate at home.

The “Bring Hostess Halloween Home” campaign reflects how consumers’ needs have changed this year, with 84% of shoppers wanting brands to present solutions to COVID-related challenges, according to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer research from earlier this year. The campaign’s at-home approach to Halloween could help parents keep kids entertained, with Duran’s recipes like the Creepy Crawly Hostess Platter potentially appealing to kids wanting to help in the kitchen, per the press release.

The campaign also reflects Hostess’ internal consumer insights that a new approach to Halloween is required this year, with 83% of people planning to celebrate it differently in 2020, and 37% saying their celebrations would include a small party at home. Facing that reality, the brand saw an opportunity to engage consumers by providing new ideas to make seasonal events fun.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the plans of many marketers who often rely on calendar events to boost sales. For Cinco de Mayo this year, for instance, Mexican QSR chains Chipotle and Taco Bell emphasized their at-home options, such as extending delivery deals and party boxes of tacos. Mars Wrigley recently launched an app-based virtual neighborhood where consumers can trick-or-treat safely. Meanwhile, Hershey’s has launched a website, “Make it Safe,” where consumers can use a color-coded map to see the risk of COVID-19 spread in their area. The brand offers different suggestions, from trick-or-treating to holding Zoom costume parties, depending on the area’s color.

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