8 Valentine’s Marketing Campaigns We Loved | Ideal Insight

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  • Nick Twigg

February marks a significant opportunity for brands: the opportunity to indulge your audience. The marketing world in February is characterised by elaborate advertising designed to engage viewers into luxury, self-indulgent products and services. As consumers we have been programmed to associate February with Valentine’s day, a hugely popular event that is a major cash cow brands.

Marketers are reinventing the meaning of Valentine's day more than ever before, revamping the celebration to appeal to everyone – couples, singles, families and friends i.e. ‘Galentines’. It's clear that this day is no longer just for couples, there is a significant movement this year beyond traditional romance and businesses have used their ingenuity to create impactful campaigns that cater to this.

If you’re looking to indulge your audience, check out our 8 top Valentine's Day marketing campaigns below. First, let's review some stats about this holiday.


Valentine's Day Stats

This year, UK consumers spent a whopping £1.45 billion on Valentine’s Day. It is further estimated that globally, over 250 million flowers were brought within 2 days of Valentine’s Day… we really do spoil ourselves! 

While the majority of spending is earmarked for a significant other or spouse, a rising proportion of consumers are spending money on gifts for secondary family members, children's teachers, best friends, pets and co-workers as well! Businesses have a significant opportunity to create an impression on their customers during the holidays with unique marketing efforts. Here, we've listed some of our favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns from the past few years, ready to inspire your efforts to indulge your audience this year.


Top 8 Valentine's Day Marketing Campaigns

Valentine's day marketing campaigns are no longer simply sickening sweet displays of romance. While businesses continue to focus on love themes, the most effective Valentine's day marketing campaigns have a unique angle that captivates consumers – whether it's rejoicing over a happy breakup with an ex, promoting a connection with a pet instead of a partner, or exploring the uniqueness of different relationships.

Whilst Valentine's day is a day to celebrate love, it's also a day to remember for those who have recently ended a relationship.


#8 Hotels.com – Anti-Valentine

With its Anti-day Valentine's campaign in 2021, Hotels.com targeted these people. It was one of the best Valentine’s campaigns that challenged the conventional Valentine's day narrative. All campaign participants filled out a form on the website, including their contact details and a statement about why their former partner deserved to be dumped.

For spilling the beans on an ex, they had a chance to win a $300 gift card for a night at a hotel of their dreams. Each received a fictitious V-day Dumpster Stay for their ex as part of their participation, confirmed by email. Childish? Probably. Comforting? You bet. In any event, there were fifteen lucky people, and probably many more who aren't looking for love but would love to plan their next vacation with Hotels.com.

Pepsi and Hotels.com both capitalized on the value of gifts. Prizes are a low-cost approach to create excitement and encourage people to interact with your company. Even though the odds of winning are minimal, everyone enjoys a game or competition. Hotels.com customers received a personalized confirmation letter placing their ex in a dumpster in this scenario. It was an excellent approach to get people talking about the company and planning a vacation.


#7 Ford – Speed Dating

Ford's witty and engaging Valentine's day marketing campaign promoting the Ford Mustang went viral, garnering millions of views. In the video, a woman goes on several blind dates with different people and then invites them for a ride in her red Ford Mustang.

After secretly asking her dates about their lifestyles and interests, the woman suddenly hits the gas and speeds across a parking lot as the car drifts. Some men cling to the car, fearing for their lives; some are horrified, some smile, and some try to enjoy the bumpy ride.

After scaring the men to death, she pulls over to the side of the road and explains that she is a professional stunt woman and that the whole thing is part of “Ford Mustang's Speed Dating.”

As the men get out and meet the camera crew, who had been documenting everything, their confusion turns to delight. This Valentine's day marketing campaign was successful for various reasons, including the clever title, creative production, hidden camera placement, and a plot that defied expectations. Although Ford has now pulled the video off their YouTube channel, it has garnered over a million more views on some other YouTube channels.

Companies can learn a lot from Ford's successful campaign by looking for innovative and unique ways to incorporate their products into holidays such as Valentine's day.


#6 Doritos – Rose Bouquets

Doritos changed the game for men and women with ketchup-flavored Doritos but in the form of rose bouquets. It was another brilliant Valentine's day marketing campaign.

At the time, the bouquets were only delivered to a handful of regions in Canada, including Montreal and Toronto. Doritos sold out its genius product twice during that period. But, the bouquet's ad campaign became viral on social media, with millions of views and 56 million impressions.

The famous bouquets are now only available in Canada this year, and they are already sold out. Fortunately, Doritos is posting a DIY tutorial on its website for anyone who missed it and other chip enthusiasts all over the globe to make their own version. 

There could be many reasons for Doritos' success in this Valentine's day marketing campaign. Most people believe that the goofy and bizarre product, as well as the idea of reversing gender roles, were the driving forces behind the bouquet campaign's popularity. 

The limited supply of the bouquets also made them a popular commodity, garnering even more attention to the innovative ad. The campaign continued its success for a long time, although the tagline was changed later. 

Doritos' ketchup-flavored campaign can teach marketers a lot. Doritos, like Ford, discovered a method to entice people with a product that has rarely been associated with Valentine's day. Plus, Doritos showed that companies could win with their products by defying convention in entertaining and engaging ways with sufficient market knowledge and the right plan.


#5 Blue Apron – 5 Awesome Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Blue Apron collaborated with alpha m., a renowned YouTube influencer, to make a sponsored video titled “5 AWESOME Valentine's day Gift Ideas — Creative & Affordable.”

Influencers can play a massive role in Valentine's day marketing campaigns, helping brands effectively market their goods and services to the world of millennials and Gen Z, who are regular YouTube audiences.

As it turned out, Blue Apron's timing was impeccable because the video generated millions of searches and continues to do so every year. 

Aaron Marino is the YouTube personality running the popular alpha m channel with 3.2 million subscribers. The channel offers weekly advice on topics such as beauty, style, and food. Marino produced a sponsored video similar to others on his network (about 600K views to date) for this Valentine's day marketing campaign. He passionately shares tips, ideas, and simple how-tos in easy-to-follow numbered lists. 

Amid Marino offers many budget-friendly Valentine's day gift ideas (including creating a personalized video and planning a wonderful vacation). As a final idea, he uses Blue Apron's Meal Kit to make a delicious, home-cooked meal for your Valentine's date, even if you don't know how to cook or don't have time to go grocery shopping.


#4 Pandora – Little Acts of Love

One of the most common protests against Valentine's day is that people believe love should be expressed year-round. With its “Little Acts of Love” ad in 2022, jewelry brand Pandora proved that simple acts of love are good at any time.

Whatever your relationship, Pandora wants us to know that it's the simple things that count on this day. Kind and passionate expressions of love in everyday life, inspiring conversations, a home-cooked meal and hours of conversation are the truly precious moments that we all want to keep in our hearts and carry with us always.

Pandora has tapped into this sentiment precisely with its heartfelt Valentine's day marketing campaign. In this ad, Pandora meets real-life lovers and friends and shares small acts of love as they celebrate the day together.

There are Isabelle and Sebastien, a happy husband and wife whose secret is that they're great buddies as well as partners. Yandeh and Theo, for example, are constantly looking for new ways to make each other happy. Lizzie and Alice, for example, value a romantic gesture. Sabine and Tobias, for example, are visualizing great adventures together. Some of these small gestures are modest and subtle, such as a kiss on the cheek or a hug. 

Others plan big moves, like moving in together or getting a pet. Whatever your small tokens of love on the day, Pandora can help you express your feelings with charms, bracelets, rings and earrings that make ideal gifts.

In all forms of relationships – marital, platonic, and familial – people's moral compass is a significant determinant for compatibility and even attraction. Many people believe that a person's values are more attractive than their appearance, body, or mind.

Many people state that their moral beliefs have evolved over the past year, and others admit that relationships are based on shared values now more than ever. And you need to know these trends well to develop practical Valentine's day marketing campaigns.


#3 Etsy – Love for Small Businesses

For Valentine's day, e-commerce platform Etsy supported its seller community by providing a pre-made graphic for social posts to promote its Valentine's Day products and services on social media.

Along with the holiday hashtag #MakeItMeaningful, sellers can now draw attention to their Etsy shop and drive more traffic for Valentine's day. The Etsy graphic grabs the audience's attention and creates a sense of community and online buzz for Etsy sellers who need this extra support for their Valentine's day marketing campaigns.

The famous e-commerce platform Etsy has decided to dedicate this day to its freelancers by creating pre-made representations to promote their work on social media. Etsy has strengthened its community with an unprecedented move, creating a sense of belonging and a buzz around the name.


#2 NHS – Go against the grain

In the wake of the pandemic, a campaign was launched asking people to forgo cards and flowers on Valentine's day and donate true love to the NHS. This initiative reflects the impact of the pandemic on consumer sentiment, as people change their priorities during difficult times.

It also shows that you don't need a fancy marketing agency to swim against the tide with a brilliant idea – these days, anyone can go viral and attract attention for a good cause. Apart from being smart and funny, this Valentine's day marketing strategy appealed to us because the public health system should always be a priority, even without a pandemic.

The NHS has launched a valuable charity campaign that encourages people to help the organization and support the NHS team. The brand marketer of the campaign and their team designed a catchy and funny page to highlight the mental and physical difficulties of NHS employees in the midst of the pandemic. The movement was different from other Valentine's day marketing campaigns because it was based on the idea of recognizing what matters most, public health and the people who make it possible at personal cost, rather than mass advertising of flowers and hearts.


#1 WWF – Love or Lose

Every year, the image of Valentine's Day is extended beyond romance to all sorts of implications and causes. This year, the World Wildlife Federation has aligned itself with Valentine's day with an awareness campaign themed “Love it or lose it.”

The campaign video features a remake of Elvis Presley's “Love me tender” and calls on everyone to respect and care for our natural environment or lose it. Compared to traditional Valentine's Day marketing campaigns, this modern campaign is an excellent example of how marketers can use Valentine's day and other holidays to raise awareness, not just drive sales.

This company stays true to its vision and manifests it in every event. WWF's Valentine's Day campaign, titled “Love it or lose it,” goes beyond the original definition of love and romance to emphasize the importance of admiring nature or risking losing it.

WWF is known for its reasons and mission to create awareness, and this campaign is a brilliant example of that positioning. Special praise also goes to the ad's soundtrack: the remake of Elvis Presley's “Love me tender” is ideal for capturing the essence of the ad and creating a stunning visual and auditory ensemble.


Some Tips and Hints

All brands need to closely watch trending topics and hashtags while participating whenever appropriate. Still, it's always a good idea for marketers to think twice before tweeting, as riding the waves of these popular debates might backfire.

It's also a good idea for businesses to do their homework on any trends they want to participate in. They should also study various strategies and determine which are more suited to their company, product, or audience.

Pay attention to the following methods that many of the brands mentioned above have used while creating and launching your Valentine's day marketing campaigns:

Be authentic: This time of year, many consumers are bombarded with expensive Valentine's day advertisements that provide no relevant information or value. Make sure your material is authentic, even if you want to portray a gooey, soppy love story. You can do this by using strategies such as telling a tale that your audience would relate to, or you can follow Twitter's lead and leverage user-generated content from your followers.

Don't let the audience look away: Just like every other holiday, marketers all across the world are creating material to celebrate Valentine's day. To stand out in these noisy Valentine's day marketing campaigns, you'll need to use fun elements or essential information to grab and hold your audience's attention.

Experiment with multiple channels: While some of the companies on our list used Instagram, others relied on YouTube or tangible campaign methods such as billboards.


Bottom Line

As you can see, no matter what business you're in, a creative Valentine's day marketing campaign can take your products and services to places you never imagined. All you need is a little ingenuity and some thinking about what might pique your audience's attention.

But, you need to remember that Valentine's day marketing is big business, with billions of dollars at stake. Customers are sharper, savvier, and more aware than they have ever been. Brands are moving away from traditional Valentine's day marketing campaigns to more outlandish tactics and tongue-in-cheek love themes.

In this article, we tried to provide you with eight great examples to help you learn from the best. 


If you need more guidance, you can find similar articles on our website or speak with a member of our in-house social media team who would love to hear your thoughts.

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