Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Can you imagine your community buzzing with excitement about your brilliant promotion? Well it will be when you let people know that you, the dentist, have finally figured out what to do with that nightmarish holiday where the over consumption of sugary treats is an American tradition.
With the current health crises of diabetes and obesity as well as a rise in early childhood decay, it is now time for our profession to respond. No child needs to consume a shopping bag full of candy ever! We can offer a reasonable option to help kids get rid of most of their candy without being labeled holiday curmudgeons. That was my feeling seven Halloweens ago when I decided to go national with a great idea I had heard about.
It was time for dental practices to own Halloween with a smart, fun and charitable promotion, a promotion sure to be the biggest public relations event they had ever been involved in. In fact, this promotion will skyrocket your dental team’s popularity with families, troops and the media.
The concept is rather simple. Your office offers to pay trick-or-treaters one dollar per pound for their excess uneaten, unopened Halloween candy (up to 5 lbs.). The children also receive a fun Halloween toothbrush, a handful of healthy 100% xylitol sweetened treats, and a coupon for a kid's meal at a local restaurant or a raffle ticket for a big prize. The candy and other collected goods are then shipped to our troops in support of their efforts. We also suggest that offices donate one brush per pound of candy sent to the troops.
Six Years Later This Event Continues Explosive Growth!
Our first year we had fewer than 100 dentists involved, and the first national Halloween Candy Buyback collected approximately 10,000 pounds of candy for Operation Gratitude. We currently have more than 2,000 offices involved, and that number is climbing every single day. Last year Operation Gratitude collected 250,000 pounds of candy as well as 20,000 toothbrushes for the troops. This event has generated millions of dollars of national and local publicity for dental offices all over the country each year.
How do I know this? I commissioned a study from a media research company called Cision to track the nationwide TV, radio, print and internet coverage of this event. We’ve been on all the major networks and news channels. This segment was on ABC’s World News Tonight.
The Media Loves This Event!
Every year, the media expects to do its share of Halloween stories, and reporters are always looking for a new angle as the holiday approaches. Dentists buying candy from kids? This unique approach has been overwhelmingly embraced in city after city throughout the U.S. I have enjoyed watching my colleagues and their practices become media stars because TV, radio and print all want to tell this story. The exposure creates amazing good will and you’ll find that everyone in your town will be complimenting your office on this great Candy Buyback idea.
Expect this kind of buzz. The original idea for buying back candy has been around for a while. It certainly did not originate with me or my practice. But just like many other practices taking part, you will be viewed as the genius, and your office will get a standing ovation for bringing it to your community.
The Team Loves This Event!
Publicity is one thing, but when a dentist like Dr. Dave Jones, from Muskogee, Okla., tells me that “this may have been the most rewarding day of my (dental) life,” well, I’m affirmed that this event is truly special for the whole team.
At my practice we schedule the Buyback during a two-hour period after school on Nov. 1. The staff wear their Halloween costumes, and a vibrant party atmosphere greets the steady stream of parents and children who file into our office that day. One team member works the scale and calls out the official weight. Another holds a stack of crisp, new one dollar bills and peels them off into the hands of the excited children with words of congratulations and thanks for supporting the troops. Another team member wears a tooth costume and hands out the fun holiday themed toothbrushes, kid’s meal coupons (donated from local restaurants) and 100% xylitol sweetened candy. Another team member makes sure all the parents receive educational info on the oral health benefits of xylitol and fliers with special promotional offers inviting them to join our practice.
Mothers Love This Event!
With less candy consumed by children, mothers will love you because you are the dentist with the best plan to deal with the excess amounts of candy regularly consumed by children for days and days following Halloween. No one should be eating that much candy, and especially not kids because childhood decay and obesity are on the rise.
But don’t worry, because dentists still believe in fun. We are not talking about banning trick-or-treating. Instead we are now giving kids an alternative use for their excess candy, a use they can feel good about because the collected candy supports the troops. The Halloween Candy Buyback promotion is a great opportunity to get children involved in a charitable act to truly show support for our brothers and sisters risking their lives overseas. The children also write out encouraging letters to the troops at a table you can set up at your Buyback event. These letters accompany the care packages and they are huge morale boosters.
So now, you have to be getting pumped up about this promotion. I guarantee your office will have the most enjoyable Halloween season ever by holding this event.
This event is just too special to keep it a secret and it has now become my mission to help it spread! If you would like to get involved this year, you can register (at no charge) at www.HalloweenCandyBuyback.com and then you'll have access on that site to the step-by-step instructions that includes press releases you can use, toothbrush ordering specials, candy shipping information, and much more. We also send out occasional HCBB e-mail news updates with great ideas from participating colleagues across the country and updates on the national publicity we receive. We have the only nationwide source for the general public and the national media to locate the dental practices involved by ZIP code.
The majority of your press will occur during the week leading up to Halloween, so you could actually start your PR campaign as late as the last week or two of October and still pull off an amazing event.
A non-profit U.S. organization called Operation Gratitude will collect your candy and other goods here in the states, and include some in each of the care packages they ship overseas to the troops. You are responsible for shipping your collection to them, but they'll do the rest to package it for the troops and send it overseas.
The head of the organization, Carolyn Blashek, was thrilled with last year's dental response: mountains of candy, thousands of letters, and many other “Wish List” items, including Beanie Babies. Calling it the best promotion they had ever seen, Blashek noted that the troops love the candy and other items not only for themselves, but also to give out to the children in the communities they patrol, winning hearts and minds all over the world!