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5 Lucky Friday the 13th Marketing Campaigns

December 13, 2019  /  by  Cassie Shukitis

Ki, ki, ki, ma, ma, ma

Dim the lights. Secure your saltshakers. Cue the fog and lock your doors. Friday the 13th is here again, and despite its temporal inevitability, it is still considered a harbinger of bad luck and preternatural masked serial killers.

In 1907, stock promoter Thomas Lawson released his book, Friday, the Thirteenth, about the calculated crash of the stock market, which signaled the height of the day’s rueful popularity. Since then countless movies, television plots, and urban legends have germinated throughout modern society. Friday the 13th became a myth, then a meme - effectively becoming a brave marketer’s dream anti-holiday.

Some actually consider Friday the 13th to be among the original viral marketing stunts, inspiring countless brands and organizations to take advantage of the day’s reputation by trying their luck and repositioning the day as an opportunity to take chances, cultivate luck, and go from superstitious to just a little stitious.

If there’s one thing Roger West loves, it’s an excuse to research the dark and macabre corners of marketing. In the spirit of going where no agency has gone before, Roger West walked beneath countless ladders and broke a few mirrors to uncover 5 lucky Friday the 13th marketing campaigns and ideas to engage and inspire others to turn their luck around this Friday the 13th.

#1 - Coca-Cola Gets Creepy

Beloved soft drink giant Coca-Cola regularly plays into the myth of Friday the 13th on their social media channels, creating specific images and making spooky posts for fans to discuss on Facebook. The brand’s participation over the years got enough attention to inspire a recent spec commercial about the meeting of Jason Voorhees and Santa Claus.

Roger West rating: 3/5 Hockey Masks

Coca-Cola’s consistency in making specific Friday the 13th content is commendable, but it’s surprising that they haven’t taken their marketing beyond social media. The brand’s Christmas campaigns quickly became part of the cultural lexicon, and they could easily darken their image once or twice a year for similar virality.

#2 - ADT Tempts the Fates

ADT, the brand behind the famous blue octagon and security system, threw caution to the wind in a Twitter post depicting their spokesman spilling salt in a room with an open umbrella, a black cat, a broken mirror, and a ladder begging to be used as an overpass.

Roger West rating: 3/5 Hockey Masks

The image shared by ADT is the Friday the 13th equivalent of keyword stuffing. It’s got all of the unlucky things in one place, but there isn’t much more creativity to it. ADT also failed to address how their services can relate to Friday the 13th - making it seem more like a bandwagon hop-on than strategic marketing tactic.

#3 - Humane Society Rebrands Black Cats

No creature has suffered more at the hands of Friday the 13th than black cats. After having been deemed bad omens in folklore and common fiction, real black cats have been subject to abuse and discrimination. The Humane Society and its regional partners have been working hard to dispel superstitions on black cats by educating the public and hosting special adoption events for black cats every time Friday the 13th rolls around.

Roger West rating: 4/5 Hockey Masks

This is an example of a marketing campaign geared towards doing good - which earns it a higher rating than most. Many Humane Society locations hold their own Friday the 13th adoption events, but there are some inconsistencies with the branding. To create a more cohesive brand and improve adoption rates, The Humane Society should work to better promote these events and focus on generating content that demystifies black cats and other animals who fall victim to unjust discrimination.

#4 - T-Mobile & The Scarriers

Cellular carrier T-Mobile has the most complex Friday the 13th marketing campaign on the list so far, with the introduction of #TheScarriers. Initially conceived as part of their Halloween campaign, CEO John Legere stars in a series of promotional videos about The Scarriers. In each video, Legere tells campfire horror stories that frighten the brand’s competition and their patrons. Part playful smear campaign, part creative genius - The Scarriers has since been used by T-Mobile on Friday the 13th, carrying on the tradition of frightful promotional videos.

Roger West rating: 4.5/5 Hockey Masks

T-Mobile fully committed to the horror with this video series, featuring the brand’s executive leadership team as they share scary stories and make their way through a house of horrors. By far the most in-depth campaign run paying homage to both Halloween and Friday the 13th, Roger West has to give kudos. T-Mobile’s The Scarriers hybrid-campaign wasn’t just viral material - their social CM’s are responsive and engage with followers who reach out about the self-proclaimed uncarrier’s services.

#5 - Staples’ Casual Friday the 13th

Staples tried their hand at comedic promotional videos with their brief Casual Fridays videos. The social content, which began back in 2015, features a casually dressed Jason Voorhees in the Staples corporate office. The videos continued with depictions of a rather benign Jason riding the elevator – you guessed it, casually.

Roger West rating: 3.5/5 Hockey Masks

The choice to create videos appealing to those with an interest in Friday the 13th was a great way for Staples to create valuable (laughter as currency) and shareable content beyond posting a manipulated image. The company followed up the success of their first video with another Friday the 13th skit, demonstrating an admirable commitment to the gag. The brand could have followed T-Mobile’s lead and applied a similar tactic to Halloween. Playing with the likeness of iconic characters is a great way to enhance holiday marketing, even for more subversive audience segments like those who appreciate a nod to the classic slashers of the 1980s.

Ready to run your own Friday the 13th campaign? Need help fending off the attacks of a hockey-mask wearing camp crusader? Roger West can help. Give us a call!