Happy (non-conventional) Valentine’s Day

Happy (non-conventional) Valentine’s Day

The days when brands targeted only ‘smug marrieds’ on the most romantic day of the year are long gone. Here’s how big business took a different approach – and how it paid off.

According to the snappily titled Retail Marketer’s Guide to Accelerating e-Commerce76% of brands still rely on occasion-led retail periods – including Valentine’s Day – to hit their revenue targets. “Valentine’s Day is one of the key trading dates in every retailer’s calendar and it seems to be getting bigger every year,” says Jon Lord, commercial director of digital marketing agency Criteo. “It’s no surprise that last year our data found that the sale of flowers increased in the weeks before 14 February. But what is interesting is that the sale of fashion and luxury items jumped by a massive 128% in the first week of February, suggesting that there’s more to Valentine’s Day than just flowers.”

The right approach is vital, as Chloe Barrett, consultant at brand communications agency Vital Communications observes. “Valentine’s Day is no longer just a key date in the marketing calendar for restaurateurs, jewellers and florists,” she says. “It’s something all brands can take advantage of and, increasingly, those that don’t naturally lend themselves to romance and gift-giving are looking for a way to tap into what has become one of the most profitable retail events of the year.”

The challenge for marketers is to come up with Valentine’s Day campaigns that resonate with different groups, from friends deciding to spend the day together, to those who are actively looking for a partner, to those who are happily single. “Bupa’s Valentine’s message this year is based on research we did that showed just what a bad relationship many of us have with our bodies,” says Melissa Jones, a senior press officer at the international healthcare group. “Over half of survey respondents wouldn’t seek help for stress, for example, preferring instead to ‘power through’. So our campaign is aimed at encouraging people to give themselves the same level of care and attention they’d give to a loved one.”

In an effort to stand out from the competition, more brands are reinterpreting the Valentine’s Day message. “Last year, Tesco got this just right with its ‘basket dating’ campaign, which aimed to match prospective couples by analysing the contents of their shopping baskets,” says Chloe Barrett. Sarah Keegan, head of brand at OVO Energy, recalls an eight-week campaign that ran over Valentine’s Day 2014, which encouraged the public to 'dump the Big Six to feel loved again’. “It attracted 100,000 new switchers to us,” she says.

Video crowdsourcing company Userfarm.com taps into creativity around the globe to come up with original content for ‘occasion days’ such as Valentine’s. A pool of 130,000 independent filmmakers (‘The Crowd’) are encouraged to create short videos to a specific brief from brands such as Lindt and Nespresso, the most successful of which win a financial prize and are released by the brand via its social media channels.

“The video crowd is all about empowering grass-roots filmmakers and it always produces authentic, original storytelling that resonates with a large audience,” says Jeffrey Lee, CMO of Userfarm. “Crowd films are genuine and meaningful, so they work well around days in the year that are important in people's lives. Many of our most effective brand videos marry crowd content with relevant context and generate millions of views around days like Valentine’s or Christmas – they have universal appeal.”

Claire Lavelle Journalist and Content Creator
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