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It’s Not All Hocus Pocus

By Client Leadership Team

Costumes have become a very clear reflection of societal attitudes and influences. They allow us to tell a story that has been stirring in our mind for the past year. They reveal both the masks we hide behind and the fantasies we would like to express. Characters’ stories give people a fictional lens through which they see the real problems of the world.

In 2016, we live in a creative economy with a 24/7 news cycle, and new memes streaming to our phones by the minute. In this environment, the more creative your costume, the better. Costumes channel our abilities to creatively retell stories in our own way. Political correctness is thrown out the window for this one day—almost anything you dress up as on October 31 will be forgiven on November 1.


Who (or what) will we conjure up to mask, decorate and costume ourselves in—and why? Here at Hyperquake, we looked to the past to see how American sociocultural shifts have been directly reflected through popular costume choices.

1940’s Political Shifts: A shroud of fear amidst Nazism, the Holocaust, and hydrogen bombs left many feeling less than saintly, inspiring the devil dress as a popular costume.

1950’s Economic Shifts: This time saw the rise of the middle class. Americans started installing televisions in their homes, and started dressing as their favorite TV characters including Superman, Zorro, Davy Crockett, Tarzan and Jane.

1960’s Social Shifts: The rise of second-wave feminism (cued by Betty Friedan’s revolutionary book ‘The Feminine Mystique’). Enter Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman and the rise of sexy catsuits, as women began to openly embrace their sexuality.

1980’s Economic Shifts: The era of excess looked back on past eras of economic wealth such as the 1920’s for flapper inspiration. Also popular were contemporary pop icons such as Hulk Hogan and Madonna, along with preppy styles and togas inspired by ‘Animal House.’

2000’s: Economic Shifts: After the economic crash, zombies and vampires took over American streets, bookshelves and screens. By 2010, the zombie market was worth over $5 billion; this is thought to be because zombies reflected our very real anxieties about the crazy, scary time of economic uncertainty. This happened to be the same time that reported insomnia and use of pharmaceutical sleeping aids spiked….Coincidence?


Social Shifts: We’ve embraced some reality stars into our homes like they are part of our family, so we’ll certainly be recreating some of their iconic moments. Also, some very influential celebrities passed this year; we expect to see all decades of both Prince and David Bowie.

Techno Shifts: As technology enables us to wear masks and costumes daily, we will bring technology out of the screen and into physical manifestations—expect to see costumed Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go characters.

Economic Shifts: In a time when our economy is never stable and can change at a moment’s notice, new characters that are dark, dimensional and unpredictable will appear. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice. As Burton’s slated ‘Beetlejuice 2’ movie has been announced, we expect many unique versions of quirky, dark characters that may reflect our feelings of instability that is beyond our control.

Environmental Shifts: The more emotionally connected we become to our devices, the more we feel the need to be in touch with nature. Mother Nature, animal memes, and macro-scaled nature brings a lighter side to the costume spectrum.

Political Shifts: Do we even have to go there? This year’s top costumes will reflect the current election—the characters, the topics and the one-liners.

How does your brand…

Tell a story in your own unique way, to put a twist on hot topics and current events?
Tap into a character or story that already has energy behind it to stay relevant?
Maintain followers that are loyal enough to recognize you behind any costume change?

Is your brand…

Strong enough to dress up in a new costume and not be lost or confused?
A character? Who is it? How does that become exposed in your communication?
Able to continually update in your ever-changing landscape?

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