Stop the pumpkin spice madness

Tis’ the season. Unfortunately.

I’d like to put that “unfortunately” in giant bold letters with three or four exclamation points and a few underlines to boot, but I have my standards.

pumpkin spice
This little critter started the pumpkin spice movement.

Don’t worry, I am not being a scrounge. So just relax. I am not taking a shot at Christmastime, not in any shape or form whatsoever. Christmas happens to be my favorite time of year, more now as it is also the birthday of my granddaughter. Just saying.

Nope, I am alluding to what has become the pinnacle of annoying times as a shopper. The grand ole’ time when everything under the sun has become infused with pumpkin spice. Gag me now.

This whole trend had a modicum of pleasantness at first. Sure, I liked a latte from Starbucks, especially when the ingredients in it were entirely real (so they said) and not artificial.

But the dyke spewed forth. A deluge of products — ludicrous ones at that — hit shelves everywhere. Consider the repulsiveness of the following:

  • Boulder Canyon Pumpkin Pie Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
  • Kellogg’s Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini Wheats
  • Pumpkin Spice Oreos
  • Bert’s Bees Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm
  • Extra Pumpkin Spice Gum

It’s like a car wreck. You don’t want to look, but oh man it’s so bad. You just can’t peel your eyes away.

Is this the zenith of the Pumpkin Spice Apocalypse? 

I would give anything to make it go away. As Forbes indicated, however, the movement has become a $500 million niche craze, thanks to Starbucks.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I beg of you, I plead. I’ll give you your latte if you promise me no more scented lightbulbs or dog cologne or Pringles. I just can’t take it any longer.

Macy’s national holiday hiring day is disingenuous

Troubled retailer Macy’s is creating yet another made up holiday – national holiday hiring day. The holiday will be on September 30th when Macy’s plans on hiring 83,000 seasonal workers to fill holiday positions in their call centers, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.

The move reeks of terrible PR and feels incredibly disingenuous.

national holiday hiring day
Macy’s national holiday hiring day is a joke.

Earlier this year, Macy’s announced that it was closing about 15% of its stores. This came amid six straight quarters of sales declines that were blamed on an increasing number of consumers moving to online purchasing – because as we all know, no one saw Amazon coming.

We have written a lot about the soft brick and mortar retail environment as well as the problems with Macy’s. Too many stores were built too fast with no vision of the future. Isn’t that the real reason?

National holiday hiring day should be laughable.

Now Macy’s is touting national holiday hiring day. I get the need to hire temporary people during this time of year. However, Macy’s bragging about creating the first national hiring day is simply a bad idea. It’s a naked attempt to get people to forget it is shuttering 15% of its stores and firing the countless people affected by those closings.

Have you ever watched a bad movie for a little longer than you should have just to see how bad it was going to get? Macy’s is much like that bad movie, getting a little worse with each passing minute. This blatant PR move once again demonstrates just how far Macy’s has fallen. Its brand is in decline, stores are closing, sales are declining and yet it is touting a national holiday hiring day. It’s a major disconnect and a failure of the Macy’s brand.

Will the holiday work? Of course it will, but not because of Macy’s. People need jobs and others need a second job to make their children’s Christmas special. Most people won’t be bothered by it, save the ones who are getting laid off in the store closings.

But Macy’s has lost its way and this is yet another example.

Halloween and your personal brand

In just a couple of days, the annual begging for candy at other people’s houses event, also known as Halloween will commence and, yes, your personal brand will be on full display. Where I live, people actually drive to our neighborhood, park their cars on the sides of the street and parade their kids – uncostumed high schoolers and all – up and down the street, stopping at each and every house to beg for candy.

I say beg, but unfortunately it seems more of a demand. Don’t get me wrong. I really like to see the littlest ones, who may be trick-or-treating for the first time, cautiously walk up to the door and shyly, inaudibly say “Trick or Treat,” then quickly turn away in their princess, firefighter, bumblebee or Dracula costume, parents in tow mouthing “Thank you” as they chase after the child.

What Halloween tells us about ourselves.

As a person who studies human behavior, I also am quite amused at what you can learn about people by observing them on Halloween and what it says about their personal brands. One of the main cruxes in brand development is the importance of understanding a prospect’s beliefs and how those beliefs govern all of the decisions that prospect makes. The funny thing about Halloween is that, to the trained eye, many of those beliefs are wide out in the open.

What we see on Halloween.

Look at what people give out as an example. Whether you look at the brand and size of candy or the religiously themed note or the healthy granola or whatever it is a house gives out, the candy itself can give you real clues about the beliefs that drive all of the decisions those people make in life. Are they frugal? Are they religious? Or do they want to be seen as being religious? Do they believe that healthy choices are the only ones?

Also, unlike any other holiday (if I can call it that), strangers get a quick snapshot into the inner lives of their neighbors by getting to briefly peer into their homes. Is the house neatly decorated, is it messy? Are there children’s art visible? Does your neighbor believe that what others think about them matters? Do they believe they don’t have enough hours in the day?

And watch how parents interact with their children. Do the parents carry a flashlight or blinking light? Do they walk up to the door with their children or wait by the curb? Do they insist on having their child say thank you? Do they themselves say thank you? Are they too dressed up?

What is so interesting to me about Halloween is that there are very few instances where so many of a person’s beliefs, their personal brands, are on display – and most people seem completely oblivious to it.

What we all do on Halloween is show our brand face, sometimes literally. And at the end of the day, the best brands recognize this. Like Halloween, brand should be a reflection of who that person is. And when it is, it becomes a visible part of a brand face. Although it sounds funny, a user of a highly resonate and emotional brand becomes oblivious to it in much of the same way they do walking down the street at Halloween. It is just who they are.