Halloween is a big, fun event here at DMA—and I will personally admit to knowing every line of the 1993 Halloween classic Hocus Pocus, thanks to having watched it numerous times each October.
Fun Fact: Freeform alone will air Hocus Pocus 27 times in October.
For those of you who have missed the reruns every year, here’s a quick recap:
Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, the storyline follows three witches who have returned from the dead (thanks to the faux pas of a teenage boy) and remain in search of children, whose youth they plot to absorb in order to stay young and beautiful forever. You’d never know this now, given that the television success of the film has made it a cult classic, but Hocus Pocus was originally considered a box office flop, given that it pulled in only $39.5 million. Much like many classic holiday films, however, Hocus Pocus has incredible staying power that has launched merchandise, viewership, and consistent attention on social media every year, so it continues to be THE Halloween movie. Here’s what fresh brands can learn about brand loyalty and staying power from this wickedly good film:
What Hocus Pocus Can Teach Fresh Produce Marketers About Brand Loyalty
Make sure you have a product that consumers can’t ignore—or live without:
It’s pretty much impossible to escape the influence of Hocus Pocus this time of year: Spirit Halloween stores release new merchandise dedicated to the movie yearly, television channels air it constantly, and social media platforms become flooded with memes and GIFs that never get old. The star-studded cast and impeccable writing may not have been appreciated by critics in 1993, but Hocus Pocus has since become a product that many fans feel they can’t live without—kinda like the three stars and the children they keep chasing. Speaking of children: maybe the film's late-blooming popularity is due in part to the fact that many of us grew up watching the film as kids and now it adds to our nostalgia for "simpler times," back when the whole Halloween season felt nothing short of magical.
Fresh Takeaway: Ask yourself, do your product and brand generate a FOMO (fear of missing out) factor?
Create excitement around your product:
It seems like a spell gets put on all us Halloween-hags in September as buzz about the movie starts popping up in articles and on social. Television channels even promote it on their social media platforms, knowing that consumers will tune in to get their yearly (or 10-times-yearly, if you’re me) fix of their favorite witches. Bette Midler herself said in 2015, for a Reddit AMA, that she was "shocked" by Hocus Pocus' cult status.
A Hocus Pocus sequel has never actually been made, but every year, rumors circle the internet—like witches on broomsticks, except, you know, on Twitter—about a forthcoming second movie.
"All of us are just stunned," she said. "Kathy, Sarah Jessica, and I have talked about it. We are totally thrilled to death. Because when it came out, it laid a tiny little bit of an egg, so we didn't expect much. And now look at it! OCTOBER is HOCUS POCUS MONTH!"
Fresh Takeaway: When launching a new product, how do you generate excitement? Crafting a content campaign, social and creative plans, and ad strategy goes a long way toward getting consumers excited about your brand—especially that new product! And what about generating actual sales with your marketing efforts? Be sure you are giving people clear information about where the product can be found: your website and social media content and ads are all great places to start.
Be consistent AND innovative:
Aside from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus is really the only Disney film with a Halloween flare. Even in the concept creation portion of the film, it was pitched in a unique manner by producer David Kirschner, who created a Halloween-themed meeting room complete with witches’ brooms suspended from the ceiling, child-drawn images of black cats, and spilled candy corn. Thanks to the film’s age, it now has that aforementioned nostalgic feel (hello, emotion-based marketing!) hearkening back to our watching it on the weekends as children (or as parents of children who loved the film). No matter how many times people watch Hocus Pocus, every time is an equally great experience. Nostalgia aside though, know that quality and a fresh approach are still key: without the amazing and memorable songs, acting performances, and storyline, we would not still be watching.
Fresh Takeaway: When it comes to fresh, consistency and quality are things that consumers notice—always! Generating equity that establishes you as a fresh, fun brand that will never let shoppers down encourages brand loyalty and advocacy, and creates staying power that can span across generations (and without necessitating any stealing of children’s youthful spirit in the process, we might add!). Keep the old reliable fan favorites, and know that innovative products (much like new Hocus Pocus merchandise) demonstrate that your brand is listening to what consumers enjoy—and cares about making products that better meet their needs.
Though the term “staying power” might seem at times like an impossible formula—or a bunch of hocus pocus, so to speak—we can all learn a witchy thing or two (even from over-the-top pop culture villains) about building brands that never fade, even without the benefit of undying youth. With careful study, strategy, and execution, fresh produce marketers can help their brands attract loyal fans who will choose their products above all others at the grocery store (or the apothecary, if it’s October and that's where you shop—we don’t judge!).
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