Why being chased by demons with birch twigs is good for business

Travelling is all well and good, but it’s good to go home again…

And that’s how I felt after our trip to Austria.

Image of Krampuslauf from Austria. A procession of people dressed up in furry bodysuits with scary masks and horns.

The Krampuslauf is a perfect example of great Marketing – it’s all about stories. Take note!

We saw a ton of stuff in just a few days – including crazy demons chasing people with willow whips, an ice palace inside a glacier, and Tenacious D perform at the foot of a ski slope.

So, the crazy demons with willow whips…

That’s utterly random and completely brilliant.

In Austro-Bavarian, German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned anthropomorphic figure who punishes children who have misbehaved during the Christmas season.

Unlike Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved kids with gifts.

Most Alpine towns, including Schladming where we’ve been staying, have a Krampuslauf (Krampus run) during which young men and boys dress as Krampus and stride menacingly through the village, smacking visitors with birch twigs. And sometimes setting fire to the route and their horns.

Which is hilarious. And alarming. And totally fascinatingly beautiful.

All this is accompanied by copious glühwine and roasted chestnuts and Baumküchen (which is a giant conical pastry coated with chocolate or cinnamon and is delicious).

I love stuff like this because it’s a great example of how cultures change and absorb traditions. Because although the Christians will tell you it’s all part of the birth of Jesus myth, Krampus bears more than a passing resemblance to the Green Man and the Horned God, plus a few more pre-Christian pagan traditions.

And, of course, it’s a jolly good laugh.

Not to mention a brilliant marketing opportunity. The Krampuslauf brings tourists out in droves, ready to swim in glühwine and munch on all manner of traditional sweets. And spend a fortune on local crafts.

I tell you what, December in the Alps is bloody brilliant. It’s gorgeous. I wasn’t feeling particularly Christmassy because I’d been away so much and was away again the following week, but I did after that.


But in the meantime back to February! If you haven’t already, you should go and grab a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes.



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS After you’ve read it, don’t forget to put what you’ve learned into action. Because without action you’re just waiting for stuff to happen. And shit don’t happen unless you make it happen. Word.


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