Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but in the age of #MeToo, self-partnering, and Galentine’s Day, how are advertisers capitalising on this half-holiday? According to NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, 72 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds celebrated V-Day in 2009, but only half acknowledged it last year.
Perhaps because of this, marketers are trying to find new ways to engage the younger generation, but this has not always been successful. Last year, for example, fintech company Revolut’s campaign caused a Twitterstorm, and was called out for “single-shaming” with its tube posters reading “To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day… You ok, hun?” Not only were people slightly peeved at being mocked for their single status, but it raised concerns that sensitive financial data was being used for marketing purposes. Despite the data being fabricated, it raised concerns over how brands convey their values to customers, and whether or not their marketing and comms strategy was successful is still up for debate – bad press is better than no press, right? Fintech blogger and author Iona Bain was at the centre of the debate, claiming that Revolut was setting back the cause for open banking, damaging trust in brands, and making people think banks are snooping on them to use their data against them to make crude jokes.
Skipping forward to 2020, there are surprisingly few brands that are using Valentine’s Day as a hook in their ads, and the ones that have are keeping their message quite simple. Here are some that stick out:
The fast-food giant teamed up with Warner Bros this year to create an anti-Valentine’s Day campaign to coincide with the 7 February released of Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Burger King capitalises on the film’s premise that Harley and The Joker have broken up and, on V-Day, consumers in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston can drop photos of their exes in a Birds of Prey-themed box in exchange for a free Whopper. Using social media to promote the campaign, their channels have received higher engagement than for previous posts, for example their Tweet on the campaign received 1,400 likes compared to their usual 500 or so. They also received comments like “Marketing on fire right here” and “Marketing done right!”
In their Valentine’s ad, ASDA’s main message is “Don’t Compromise” and they demonstrate this by reversing the gender stereotypes, with “Ed” wanting to go to the theatre, while his girlfriend wants to watch an action film. In the end, they compromise, and both end up having a miserable (nigh on life-threatening) time.
Pretty Little Thing
The clothing brand’s V-Day ad has probably come the closest to causing uproar this year, with their message “Outfits that will take you from mate night to date night.” They attempt to mitigate this with their campaign title “Love Thyself”, but it seems slightly contradictory. They have also recently been criticised for their latest lingerie campaign, which has been seen by many to overly sexualise and objectify women. Whether this ad was strategically released in time for Valentine’s Day is up for debate, but the timing does seem more than coincidental.
Kraken have taken a different stance altogether with their “Rumantics” campaign – if you sign up to their League of Darkness, and complete one of the given limericks between 4 and 14 February, you’re in with the chance of winning a limited edition bottle of Kraken Black Spiced Rum, plus other surprises. The campaign has seen the brand gain over 15,000 click-throughs to their landing page, and a social media reach of more than 1.2 million, resulting in 3,000 new Instagram followers.
This year, the social and dating app is partnering with the Youtube vlogger and creator of the spoof dating show, Chicken Shop Date, to host two Valentine’s dinners, one in London and one in Manchester, as part of their campaign to celebrate modern love. Guests can make connections over dinner, and “wing women” will be on hand to offer advice on making the first move. Celebs such as Maya Jama, Daniel Kaluuya, and Chabuddy G will also be at the event.
Heinz steers clear of relationships altogether in an advert for their collaboration with Fortnum & Mason – Tomato Ketchup Truffles. So far, this has gained very little traction on social media and, even where it has, there’s split opinions over how successful the product will be, with one user asking “Is it April Fools [sic] already?” , while another says, “I gotta find these.” Guess the proof will be in the pudding!