Valentine’s Day campaigns reflect consumers' wavering love for the holiday
Americans are expected to set a record in spending this year on Valentines’ Day. According to the Nation Retail Federation, spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32 percent from last year’s previous record $20.7 billion.
Yet, there’s a common refrain among consumers that the societal pressure around the holiday is overrated (see New York Times’ recent op-ed: “Valentine’s Day: A Festival or a Giant Scam?”). And brands’ Valentine’s Day campaigns are increasingly reflecting consumers’ wavering feelings around the holiday.
There’s a whole lot of heartbroken people out there steering far away from flowers and chocolates this Valentine’s Day. DoorDash is trying to reach those people by offering to cover up tattoos of their exes' names with images of their favorite foods. The brand worked with The Martin Agency for a social campaign, called #FoodisForever, where people can also share their new tats with the hashtag and receive $25 in DoorDash credits. A lot of tattoo parlors also offer a similar bargain. This year, for instance, Eraser Clinic Laser Tattoo Removal, The Finery, Invisible Ink and Precision Laser joined together to offer free tattoo removal of exes' names and wedding bands on Valentine’s Day at their combined 35 locations.
Some brands are ditching the niceties of the holiday altogether with harder-hitting messages. Vodka brand Absolut is reminding consumers of the importance of sexual consent with its new “Sex Responsibly” campaign, launched through anti-sexual violence group Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The campaign, from BBH Singapore, uses clever slogans like “Making out in a cab doesn’t make it a yes” to simplify gray areas around consent. Read more about the effort here.
Coors Light partnered with Engine Insights on a survey of Americans aged 21 to 27 and found that the majority of millennials who are of legal drinking age find Valentine’s Day overrated. So the beverage brand is encouraging people to spend time with a “fur-ever friend” instead. It’s paying all adoption fees for 1,000 dogs. The deal began on February 4 and continues until February 21.
"With almost half of millennials planning to stay in on Valentine's Day, we wanted to help empower people to savor the day with Coors Light and a dog by their side,” says Chelsea Parker, marketing manager at Molson Coors.
The diner is getting serious, but in an unconventional way. Denny’s is allowing fans (and you have to really be a fan) to get married or renew their vows for free at its little chapel inside the chain’s bright yellow flagship location at 450 Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Plus, there’s an onsite officiant, a live DJ, wedding pancakes and a champagne toast that are thrown in too. Last year, it charged $99 for the experience, so this is quite the deal for diner lovers (and for those happy to take a different approach to the whole idea of tradition).
There are a number of zoos trying to reach spurned lovers this year. The San Antonio Zoo is hosting its first “Cry Me a Cockroach” event. The Texas-based facility is allowing people to name a cockroach or rodent after their ex, that they will then feed to their birds and reptiles live on Facebook on Valentine’s Day. Cockroaches cost $5, while rodents cost $25. The El Paso Zoo is hosting a similar event and the Wildlife Images Rehabilitation Center in Oregon has a “Catch and Release” event where visitors can name a salmon after their past loves that are then fed to the resident brown bears.
The Bronz Zoo, meanwhile, is taking $15 donations to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after a loved one or ex. It’s also selling “roach candles” for $45 and roach socks (which are now sold out) for $30.
This Valentine’s Day, lube brand K-Y is encouraging women to speak up about the pleasure they receive in the bedroom with a campaign called “Resting Pleasured Face” Challenge. The campaign kicked off at the end of January with “The Bachelor” contestant Ashley Iaconetti. On social media, she encouraged her followers to share their photos of their “Resting Pleasure Face” using the hashtag #RPF and tagging the brand. Five thousand participants will receive free K-Y lube and one person will be chosen to be the brand’s “Chief Pleasure Officer.” The winner will be announced on February 25.
"Our social challenge to spread resting pleasured face (#RPF) is intended to help women claim even more sexual pleasure,” said Aliza Leferink, marketing director, sexual health and personal care at RB, parent company to K-Y.
Timed to Valentine’s Day, Pepsi has created an exclusive engagement ring that one lucky person might say “I do” too. Forget traditional flowers and candy hearts, the ring is a 1.53 carat diamond made with Crystal Pepsi (that elusive drink Pepsi debuted in 1992 and has since re-released for brief runs). The beverage brand worked with VaynerMedia to create the ring and launch a social media contest for one lucky winner. Starting on Valentine’s Day and carrying on through March, fans can tweet their creative or bizarre proposal ideas to Pepsi using the hashtags #PepsiProposal and #Contest for a chance to win the ring. Pepsi plans to announce the winner of the contest the week of March 16, ahead of National Proposal Day on March 20. We wonder how many 90s-themed proposals will be in the running.
The adult entertainment website is offering up something a little different than its typical free Premium service with a pop-up store that places a chic, refined spin on typical Valentine’s Day gifts. Walking past, the store seems like an upscale boutique, selling Valentine’s Day fare but with a sexy spin–Pornhub’s heart logo is on everything and sayings like “I cho, cho, choke you” or “Eat me”
“It’s more cheeky and sexy than the typical box of candy hearts and teddys,” says Alex Katz, co-founder and executive creative director at Officer & Gentlemen, the Madrid-based creative agency behind the pop-up. It’s still more wholesome than the brand’s past efforts. See the inside story here.
Brands are certainly not afraid of being just plain gross this Valentine’s Day. Probiotic supplement brand Culturelle has a silly social campaign, created by creative agency Terri & Sandy, that is made up of a gallery of digestive-themed cards (middle-school style) with quippy messages like “Happy Val-intestine Day” and “I love your stinkin’ guts.”
The Alliance for Positive Health
In a similar vein, The Alliance for Positive Health has a line of e-cards from health and wellness marketing agency Fingerpaint that features illustrations explaining the painful consequences of unprotected sex. Read more about the campaign here.
Contributing: E.J. Schultz, Jessica Wohl and I-Hsien Sherwood