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A creepy fad or clever PR?

Clowns are causing hysteria in America, the UK and now New Zealand, with sightings reported in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

When ‘clown’ is searched on nzherald.co.nz, the first page of results is full of stories featuring people dressed as a clown from the last week alone.

NZ Herald Focus recently looked into the phenomenon and its report talks of emergency services in the US receiving thousands of people dressing as scary clowns and frightening locals.

Similar incidents have now started popping up in the UK and New Zealand, with Facebook pages Clown Sightings NZ and Clown Watch NZ being created as a result.

Sociologist Robert Bartholomew told NZ Herald Focus, while clown sightings are nothing new, this year the scale of the phenomenon is unlike anything ever experienced.

One of the things Bartholomew blamed for the spike in clown sightings was the Hollywood entertainment industry, which is responsible for creating the motif of a scary clown.

But could the Hollywood industry also be responsible for this sudden flurry of clown sightings?

This is just wild speculation at this stage, but with the remake of It, based on Stephen King’s novel, set to hit the screens in September next year, it sure does a bit of a PR whiff about it. 

Image from IMDb

In fact, Rob Zombie’s clown horror 31, set for release this year, has already been linked to at least one clown sighting in the US.  

However, if this ridiculous trend is a publicity stunt, we doubt the PR team would condone the behaviour of the two clowns that allegedly assaulted a woman in Hamilton.

It would also have to be sure to keep the hysteria alive until the movie hits screens next year, something Bartholomew doesn’t see happening.

He sees the fad peaking around Halloween, and then declining.

“It’s going to get it out of people’s systems, and then it’s just going to plummet,” he told NZ Herald Focus.

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