Whatever your personal view on Valentine’s Day may be – a special day for you to spend time with and spoil your loved ones, or a shallow, commercial, capitalist invention to steal your money and make you feel inadequate – the fact is that Valentine’s Day means money, and plenty of it.
Generating over $20 billion in the USA alone a few years ago, a recent UK based study has predicted Valentine’s spending this year will reach £726 million, up £39 million from last year. With over 40% of the UK population set to participate in some way, it is a retailer’s dream opportunity.
Valentine’s Day has typically been the retailer’s saving grace – a shining light in the bleak period between New Year’s and Easter. However, as the market has become saturated in the past few decades, with every company and their gran jumping on the Valentine’s train (regardless of how unsexy their product or service might be), getting noticed has become an even greater challenge.
Drowning in a sea of love, brands and retailers have had to, and will continue to have to, distinguish themselves from their competitors with marketing that is creative, unique and attention-grabbing. Avoiding the standard clichés the public has grown weary of, they need to approach their marketing with fresh, creative eyes, spinning their story in a distinctive, exciting way that will get them noticed.
Here are some things to bear in mind when marketing for Valentine’s Day, and some examples from brands who have killed it in the past…
- Stay true to your brand
Trying to shoe-horn your band into the typically sexy, romantic narrative of Valentine’s Day when it just doesn’t belong there is a bad idea. While brands like Victoria’s Secret and Hotel Chocolat basically market themselves on Valentine’s Day, most brands are not going to fall in line with this – and nor should they try!
There is absolutely no use in trying to market your product or service as the ‘classic’ Valentine’s gift, perfect for all, when it isn’t. Know who your core audience is and speak to them.
A brilliant example of this is provided by Marmite. Love it or hate it, Marmite does not do mediums. No matter how you try and sell this guy, you’re not going to convert the haters. Well aware, Marmite chose to take advantage of this, creating a campaign that appealed purely to their fans with a personalised label campaign, where you could order a jar for a friend or loved one with their name on it, alongside a little message. The worst present for a non-Marmite fan, a cute, thoughtful gift for the avid fan…
- Explore the whole market
Valentine’s Day is no longer only about targeting romantic, loved-up couples: in the last decade or so, it has become more about showing your love and appreciation for ALL your loved ones, including friends, families and pets. With over half of all UK consumers single, and a quarter of these still planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day in some way, the market has expanded hugely to accommodate companies that might not fit in the ‘romantic’ mould, as well as providing greater room for creativity and humour.
A growing trend the last few years has been ‘Galentine’s Day’, a term coined in a Parks and Recreation episode where the 13th of February becomes a day to celebrate girl-friends. Last year Pinterest revealed that searches for ‘Galentine’s Day Ideas’ saw a massive 1780% year-on-year increase!
Get a slice of the action and think outside the box, targeting those who might not typically be a core Valentine’s audience with interesting and creative marketing.
- Appeal to people’s emotions
If John Lewis’s annual Christmas ad has shown anything, it’s that people love an emotional video that tugs at the heart strings. With so much scope to work with on Valentine’s Day, creating a unique and appealing campaign that appeals to people’s emotional sides and wins their hearts could be something to aim for.
An emotional video can work to make an impact for all sorts of briefs….
An everyday product that isn’t exactly sexy to sell. E.g. stationary.
Canadian store, Take Note, wins with a tear-jerker tracking a relationship through the notes they write to one another.
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A Valentine’s cliché that everyone is flogging. E.g. greeting cards.
American Greetings pulls it off with their ad ‘What It Means To Love’, showing how people can use cards to say the things it’s too difficult to say in the moment.
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- Try your hand at UGC (User Generated Content)
UGC is a great way for brands to gains their consumers’ trust as they see other people engaging and having fun with their product or service. It also helps build brand loyalty and raise awareness, so why wouldn’t you try it?
Some past examples include PANDORA jewellery and The Body Shop.
In 2017, PANDORA set up ‘My PANDORA love booths’ at their stores country wide. The idea was that customers would visit a love booth and create a personalised Valentine’s card with a photo booth picture and unique message. They would then share the picture on social media with a special hashtag and stand to win a £250 gift card and holiday for two. Additionally, they would receive a free gift with any purchase instore. The perfect way to raise awareness while encouraging purchases. A Valentine’s win.
Likewise, The Body Shop set up ‘Send A Kiss’ UGC campaign to fall in line with Valentine’s Day and the launch of their new lipstick range. Consumers were encouraged to ‘send a kiss’ to their loved ones by uploading a picture of their lips and posting it on social media with a special hashtag – they would then stand to win a set of the new lipsticks. The perfect way to authentically promote a product and drum up anticipation.
- Create interactive campaigns
Interactive content is the perfect way to make sure people actually take notice of you as they’re forced to engage with your product and remember it. This is particularly important when either people have never heard of your brand, or you are so well known, you’ve essentially been forgotten and need to push the boundaries. Not only will interactive content get people to take notice of you, but it is more fun and personable and will help with brand image.
Snickers had a great campaign for 2017’s Valentine’s Day. They created a series of interactive billboards around busy London locations, such as Waterloo station. With signs targeting those who had forgotten to organise something for Valentine’s and tying into their ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ tagline, the signs read ‘You’re forgetful when you’re hungry’ and were made out of cards that you could peel off and use to send to loved ones.
An ingenious way to bail out all of those who had forgotten to organise a gift, it gained plenty of publicity and put Snickers back on people’s radar.
In another case of a well-known brand looking to get people’s attention, this year KFC have launched their scratch and sniff cards –chicken scented Valentine’s Day cards that promote their two-person Chicken Share meal.
This creative and inventive content is not only very funny, purposefully playing off the idea that a fast food chain is not ‘fancy’ enough for a Valentine’s meal, but has also generated tonnes of buzz and attention.
- Poke fun at the whole thing
Use your creativity to make fun of the whole ridiculous day and the way it makes people behave. People respond well to humour and it will make you stand out from all of the soppy content that surrounds you.
Some great examples of fun, humorous creative Valentine’s campaigns come from Holland & Barret and IKEA.
Holland & Barret released their new vitamin B, A and E combination supplement. Titled ‘Vitamin BAE’, it played off the culturally relevant and popular word BAE, used to describe your ‘number one’ person. Funny because Holland & Barret isn’t exactly ‘hip’, it managed to make fun of itself and use this to promote and sell and kitschy, quirky product.
IKEA kept it simple but effective with a series of cartoon sketches released in a ‘love manual’. All accompanied by the headline ‘Love is complicated. IKEA is simple’, the cartoons show how no relationship problem, from an unwanted proposal to a break-up, can’t be solved with IKEA. Quirky and humorous, they were a big (and cheap!) hit.
There you have it, 6 tips to help you market creatively on Valentine’s Day, and multiple examples to plagiarise from.
If you need any help with your creative marketing, DAC has 40+ years’ experience. Please do get in touch if you need further information or have questions.