The Valentine’s Day marketing roundup

Like all other commercialised celebrations, Valentine’s Day offers brands a great opportunity for a seasonal campaign. Many have been quick to make the most of the occasion, bringing love and romance to our screens, inboxes and social media. Here’s the roundup of the best campaigns from previous years, the weird and wonderful of 2018, and how marketer’s looking to follow suit can build their own seasonal strategy.

Previous years’ successes

In previous years, a number of brands have demonstrated strong Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns that marketers can draw a number of insights from.

In 2017 Marketing Week reported that ‘an eye-watering £128m [would] be spent for Valentine’s Day 2017 in the UK’ alone. Buying into this colossal spending, brands like Snickers created an eye-catching out-of-home (OOH) campaign at London’s Waterloo station by creating a billboard made from last minute Valentine’s Day cards for forgetful passengers. Featuring the tagline ‘You’re Forgetful When You’re Hungry,’ a clever play on the brand’s 2012 locker room advert featuring Joan Collins and longterm brand proposition, the stunt was an eye-catching and good-humoured way to get involved with Valentine’s Day.

In 2016, Campaign Live voted Marmite’s Valentine’s campaign as one of their favourites. Known for their famous love/hate branding, Marmite created a limited edition range of Valentine’s Day jars that people could personalise with messages to their loved ones or featuring declarations such as ‘love me or hate me, I’m yours.’ Both campaigns demonstrate that using a current brand position or well-known tag line, but adding a seasonal twist, can prove a great success and ensure that your initiative is timely and well-received. 

The weird and wonderful of 2018

Although it is easy to think that Valentine’s Day may not be relevant to your product or service offering, this hasn’t stopped the likes of Greggs and Peperami from buying in to the seasonal fever.

In late January news broke that Greggs, the well-known everyman’s bakery, would be offering a romantic four-course dinner for Valentine’s Day. The Independent wrote that ‘if the way to your heart is through a steak bake, sausage roll or pasty, your Valentine’s Day dreams may be about to come true,’ noting that in order to keep the evening classy waiter-service and prosecco would also be provided. Although some may shiver at the prospect, Student newspaper The Tab reported that it took only 20 minutes for tickets to sell out, and the social media frenzy surrounding the offer demonstrates that, as far as PR goes, Greggs were on the money with their Valentine’s offering.

Another unlikely candidate for Valentine’s marketing this year is Peperami. The snack brand, most famous for its angry sausage character, is opening a love grotto which ‘will offer advice to people on how to win at the love game.’ According to Campaign Live, ‘people will also be encouraged to play games such as “spin to win” to pick up a range of Valentine’s Day gifts, including the brand’s limited edition “beefy bouquets” which feature the snack among peonies.’ Bizarre it may be, this pop-up style offering buys into the need for experiential marketing and shareable events that can get people talking about your brand.  

Top tips to take away

While it may be too late to run a Valentine’s marketing campaign this year, there are a number of insights that we can learn from these seasonal offerings.

1. Catch your customer’s attention – As all of the above examples show, OOH and experiential are good options for making your seasonal campaign stand out from the competition. By focusing on attracting attention and providing something visually appealing that onlookers can quickly relate to and share across social media, brands can raise awareness and position themselves as accessible and trustworthy.

2. The right offer at the right time – when Valentine’s day and other such celebrations can often be expensive affairs, offering a cheaper and fun alternative could be a way to win audiences. This can be applied to any platform, with MarketingProfs suggesting ‘thinking about the most suitable products and services a person would like to receive on that special once-in-a-year day’ can make all the difference to your campaign.

3. Feed into your broader offering – Although many of the Valentine’s campaigns mentioned above were humorous and designed to attract attention, all remained firmly within their regular brand offering to ensure that this fed back into their wider strategy. For Greggs it was price, for Marmite and Snickers their famous taglines. Marketing Week also points to McCain, who had already been pushing a diversity agenda in previous campaigns and then gave this a Valentine’s twist with their ‘Here’s to Love.’

By keeping these insights in mind when crafting your seasonal campaign, you can create positive associations that mean customers will fall head over heels for your brand.  

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