As the Senior Brand Manager at OrangeSoda, I have the chance to think about all kinds of strange things. For instance, this Halloween we had not one, but two departments choose to go with themes related to the Occupy movement. For PR people this kind of thing is a nightmare. Employees came dressed in “Occupy grunge,” holding signs about the economy and forming drum circles. We also had a team come as “Occupy Sesame Street,” a cuter, though at times slightly more depressing variant. The signs and costumes reminded me of the law firm Steven J. Baum and their 2011 Halloween catastrophe. The law firm is one of the top foreclosure companies in the US and their employees decided to dress as recently evicted home owners. The outrage was so strong that stories quickly appeared in the The New York Times and top blogs.
Boing Boing, one of the more popular blogs around, offered this commentary on the law firm’s choice of costumes:
“I’m not one to incite illegal activity, but… guys: if there were ever a house that deserved T-P-ing on Halloween? This firm’s headquarters is it. May not be justice, but it’s a start.”
So is it any wonder that it makes me nervous when employees dress up as anything that could be viewed as political? We also had a group of employees do V for Vendetta, complete with two-dozen Guy Fawkes look-a-likes. Were these Occupy employees or Guy Fawkes costumes offering political support to these ideas? Or were they making fun of the political movements associated with Guy Fawkes or Occupy? I don’t know and maybe I don’t want to know. But what I do have to think about is, how will the outside world perceive the costumes and decorations?
As a Redditor, it seems everyday I see a company picked up and eviscerated online for wrongs real and perceived. Forget the ghosts and ghouls, the really terrifying part of halloween is PR.