It’s that time of year again, Valentine’s Day. Some people are more the flowers and candy type. Others feel they’re better off watching rom coms with their friends (or with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s). Heck, even non-celebrants find a reason to do something for Valentine’s Day three percent of the time! Regardless of which of these groups is your target audience, they are sure to have a tried and true strategy for celebrating Valentine’s Day. That’s where your Valentine’s Day marketing comes in. There will be lots of opportunities for retailers, brands, and marketers to get in front of consumers with, like, a million and one ideas for celebrating (or not celebrating) Valentine’s Day.
People LOVE Valentine’s Day (Sometimes Even When They Hate It)
Whether viewed as a commercial ploy by retailers to make people spend more, or a great way to celebrate love and relationships, Valentine’s Day is a day of spending and gift-giving, even among those who openly shun the traditional “Valentine’s Day for lovers” concept.
Last year, the National Retail Federation predicted 55 percent of Americans would celebrate Valentine’s Day… and that’s just in America. Valentine’s Day is also a make-or-break holiday for couples, as 53 percent of women said they would end a relationship with their significant other if they didn’t receive a gift on Valentine’s Day.
That said, finding a way your Valentine’s Day marketing strategy has to position your product as a marvel of a gift idea if it is to help you get a hold of a chunk of this steadily growing V-Day market.
In our business, there are two simple litmus tests we can use to gauge the popularity of a topic - searches and shares. From Valentine’s Day 2017 to Valentine’s Day 2018, searches for the term “Valentine’s Day gifts” doubled. And a quick snapshot of the year’s most popular Valentine’s Day content proves people are feeling pretty good and pretty optimistic about Valentine’s Day… whether or not they plan to celebrate it.
This screenshot of a BuzzSumo search we did for this post of the most popular Valentine’s Day content just proves that the overall sentiment about V-Day is pretty positive.
Valentine’s Day has evolved past being just a day for lovers. Singles have ramped up their Valentine’s Day spending over the last few years as well. Here are a few fun facts about people and their love for Valentine’s Day:
Twenty-seven percent of non-celebrants have Valentine’s Day plans, whether it’s to treat themselves or spend time with friends and family.
To date, there are more than 473k Instagram posts tagged #galentines #galentinesday #palentines #palentinesday, the hashtags commonly used to celebrate mirror holidays Galentine’s Day (for female friends) and Palentine’s Day (for any friends).
4 in 10 V-Day celebrants would love to attend a concert, go to a sporting event or share some other experience on Valentine’s Day, and half of them will get just that.
The average person spends about $140 on Valentine’s Day, of which $88.96 is earmarked for a significant other or spouse. The rest is lovingly divvied-up between kids, parents, school parties, pets and co-workers.
Marketers LOVE Valentine’s Day, Too
There’s enough love to go around for Valentine’s Day! Not only is the holiday a favorite with consumers, it also gives brands the perfect opportunity to launch new products or reimagine existing products. For instance, the white cheesecake M&M’s headlining the first article in the BuzzSumo screenshot above...
Of course, retailers of traditionally “romantic” products (jewelers, lingerie companies, chocolatiers, etc.) can expect their usual sales boost this year. Less lovey dovey brands are wise to invest in Valentine’s Day marketing, too. Marketers can spur sales by helping Valentine’s, Galentine’s and Palentine’s Day celebrants dream up ways to pass time on the 13th and 14th. Here’s how Valentine’s Day celebrants typically spend their money…
History is full of pretty cool Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns that have helped some pretty well-known brands better target the sweetheart market. These were campaigns that were creative, engaging, exciting, AND they increased sales.
In the next section, we’re gathering some of our favorites to share with you, and hopefully inspire your own LOVEly marketing ideas.
3 Examples of Sweet Valentine’s Day Marketing Campaigns
#1 Snickers - The Interactive Experience
When you think of Valentine’s Day chocolates, I’m guessing that the nut-filled Snickers bar by Mars isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But, their Valentine’s campaign in 2017 really put them in the forefront of people’s minds.
You may be familiar with their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, which has featured celebs like Whoopi Goldberg, Willem Dafoe, and even a cameo from Marilyn Monroe.
For the company’s 2017 Valentine’s campaign, Snickers built on the success of these ads with its “You’re forgetful when you’re hungry” campaign. A huge billboard like the one below was positioned in the middle of bustling London, UK, the letters of the billboard made up of removable V-Day greeting cards to help out anyone who might have forgotten to pick up their Valentine’s Day card.
This campaign was entirely experiential, with a number of billboards in the surrounding area pointing people to the main event in Waterloo. It didn’t just end on February 14th though. On the 15th, 3000 apology cards were added for the benefit of those who forgot the to shop for their loves for Valentine’s Day.
By using this interactive billboard Snickers managed to effectively advertise its brand as a Valentine’s-appropriate product, despite its usual association with being a solid, stocky snack - not the most romantic candy around.
The big takeaways
Snickers is proof positive you don’t need to be a traditionally romantic brand to cash in on Valentine’s Day. A little creative thinking can go a very long way when it comes to building a marketing campaign. Snickers have long marketed themselves as a substantial candy bar that can really fill you up when you’re hungry. Usually, on Valentine’s Day, we prefer a box filled with a delightful selection of delicate chocolates instead.
So, Snickers had to think of a way to make their product work for the holiday. Instead of trying to pull off a branding 180 - especially for such a well-known brand - they instead went in another direction. They built a campaign that was loosely based around their product but was mostly aimed at customer interaction and creating a shareable experience.
Find a way to tie your brand in with the holiday
If your product doesn’t fit, don’t be afraid to take the focus off your product, and focus on your brand instead.
Shift your focus to the customer experience of your campaign to get people talking
#2 Dunkin’ Donuts - UGC
A brand well known for embracing the holidays with its festive flavors and enticing smells, Dunkin Donuts didn’t hold back on Valentine’s Day either. The company put its power in the hands of followers this time, and rolled out a UGC campaign on social.
Dunkin’ launched a competition in 2018 through their Instagram account for users to share their “Dunkin’ love story” on their own Instagram accounts and use the branded hashtag #DDLoveContest. Those who participated were automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for two to any US city with a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Wisely, they were careful to make clear that this wasn’t just for romantic relationships and love stories. Best friends, self-love, and all manner of love stories were encouraged - nobody was held back from entering. And, of course, they had love-themed goodies in store to help inspire your pictures.
This isn’t the first time the brand has relied on UGC to propel its Valentine’s Day marketing. In fact, it’s become something of a habit for the donut brand. In the past, Dunkin’ Donuts has released Snapchat filters, ran Facebook live streams from inside real stores, and always encouraged their followers to share the love around this romantic holiday.
Source: Dunkin’ Donuts Twitter
This time around, Dunkin’ Donuts spread its V-Day campaign across different platforms to really hit us with an effective multi-channel campaign. While the competition ticked along on Instagram, donut lovers were embracing the love-themed geo-filters over on Snapchat. In a very creative, DD also ran a number of Valentine’s Day polls and messages on the infamous dating app - Tinder.
User-generated content works at any time of the year, but especially so for Valentine’s Day. It helps to build a community around your brand, and allows followers to feel more connected with you and your product. A time of year when it’s all about relationships and loving each other, allowing users to dictate your marketing campaign is a great way to tie in the holiday with your product.
The big takeaways
Not only does UGC allow a brand to increase their brand awareness, it also helps them to create a pool of usable content with very little effort. This approach works especially well if your product looks the part for the chosen holiday.
Dunkin’ Donuts’ heart-shaped donuts and pink frosting make perfect Instagram models for a Valentine’s campaign. If your product doesn’t fit the holiday aesthetic, reimagine it. Although a heart-shaped pastry is nothing new, it’s typically novel enough to trigger seasonal buying (sort of like the mad dash to buy paczkis every year on Fat Tuesday).
On the other hand, if you want to widen your targeting, there’s nothing like creating a corresponding anti-Valentine’s Day campaign to rope-in followers who will use your products in new and creative ways to shamelessly shun the annual celebration of love and relationships.
Dunkin’ Donuts used a branded hashtag in its campaigns. Using a dedicated hashtag for your UGC campaign helps you boost brand awareness, AND it serves as a pretty simple way to keep track of all the posts being submitted.
Of course, UGC doesn’t isn’t limited to Instagram marketing. If you want photo content, then Insta is definitely your best bet. But, if you want to hear in-depth stories you could turn to Facebook or Wattpad. If you want to see their movie making skills, turn to YouTube. Short and snappy quips or photo captions work great on Twitter.
Pick the perfect platform for the kind of content you want your followers to create
Use a dedicated hashtag to keep everything in one easily accessible place
Tailor your UGC campaign to the appearance of your product
#3 Renault - The Emotional Approach
Of all the holidays throughout the year, Valentine’s Day is probably the most emotionally charged. There may be no better time to lock in to your customer's emotions and really try and tug those heartstrings than February 14th.
And, our heartstrings were definitely yanked with Renault’s ad in 2018 to advertise the new ZE model. For many of us, a car is not something we instantly think of as being the vehicle for a great romantic tale (...vehicle...get it?), but somehow, Renault managed to do just that.
Renault’s animated video tells the story of a lovelorn postman, who has been long holding a flame for one of the residents on his route. Unfortunately, the love of his life has a rather ferocious dog, who doesn’t take too kindly to him. Every time he drives back to her house to talk to her, her dog hears his car rumbling down the street long before he ever reaches her house. His advances are thwarted… that is, until he rolls up in a brand new ZE, which is an electric car that makes “zero noise” as the ad says. The postman rolls up incognito, walks past the sleeping dog, and sparks a romance with the girl.
Renault found a way to work upgrading an old car into a love story, and successfully aligned the brand with Valentine’s Day. The tagline “Everything starts with an electric moment” further ties their story line into the theme of the holiday.
The big takeaways
Renault was able to portray its product as the key that unlocked romance. No safety features. No live-action shots of the car speeding. The company didn’t even position the car as a status symbol. It’s just… a neat car. If you have a product - especially a high ticket item- that is not traditionally related to Valentine’s Day, telling a compelling, emotional story will help you win.
It’s a long established strategy in marketing to address pain points and take advantage of emotional pulls and connections to sell products. Even with all the changes in the marketing landscape, this still rings true. Whether you choose to appeal to the loved up masses with a romantic tale, encourage revenge fantasies for those recently single or harboring resentments around this holiday, or lift people’s spirits by enthusing about close knit friendships - Valentine’s Day gives you a wide range of emotional pulls to draw from.
No matter what your product may be, appeal to people’s emotions to connect it with the holiday
Romanticize or criticize Valentine’s - it’s up to you!
Entice your customers this Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re appealing to booed-up couples and starry-eyed singles hoping to win the hearts of their secret loves, or you encourage friends to celebrate the holiday together in lieu of partners, Valentine’s Day is the great opportunity to flex those creative marketing muscles.
And whatever approach you take with your Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, just remember that the focus of the holiday is on relationships. The most important relationship is the one your brand has with your customers. Make them feel engaged, loved, and excited to celebrate Valentine’s and you’ll be on the right track.
What have been your favorite Valentine’s campaigns over the years? What are you doing for your business this Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments. And, if you need help setting up an awesome influencer marketing campaign, get in touch - we can make it happen!
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