[By Nisha Chopra]

Who would have thought that the theme of clowns would be so prevalent in 2016? From the Joker and Harley Quinn of Suicide Squad to the remake of Stephen King’s ‘IT’, clowns are everywhere in the media and more recently, they’ve been appearing in terrifying clown sightings that are sweeping the United States.

Since late August, there have been increasing reports of clown sightings all across the United States, especially around schools and colleges. Some have been simply creepy while others have proved to be violent. This violence has not only been directed towards the public but even towards harmless clowns who do this for a living. It has not been confirmed whether these sightings are serious threats to people’s safety and security or merely extreme pranks fueled by social media and discussion. Whichever it may be, this scary clown wave is promoting a culture of fear within the public.

As a result of the epidemic, and with the dark cloud of Halloween looming, big brands like Target have removed clown masks from their shelves, and off their online stores.

From a public relations professional’s point of view, Target is making a sincere effort to put people’s minds at ease, and is actively trying to defuse this clown epidemic. This is an especially good call closer to Halloween, when it may prove more challenging to distinguish the threats of masked perpetrators from the innocent acts of Halloween celebrators. Target is the second largest discount retailer within the United States that caters to not only families, but the younger demographic as well. Taking down the clown masks not only makes it a little more challenging to access these costumes at cheaper prices, but solidifies the brand’s image as a good and supportive member of the community. Target is a brand that exercises their corporate social responsibilities, and their voluntary move to defuse the fear of clowns is prudent. So while law enforcement continues to work hard to keep these threats at bay, we hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

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(Photo by Zofia Eliyahu via PixaBay)