Although Valentine’s Day does have historical roots, it’s often classified as the classic Hallmark holiday that was popularized by greeting card and candy companies. Valentine’s Day came to the United States in 1847, when Ester Howard became inspired to mass-produce valentines cards after receiving one from England. People became accustomed to having ready-made cards for such occasions, which led to greeting card companies growing exponentially by encouraging the public to purchase valentines for their significant other. Candy companies took note and began boxing chocolates in heart-shaped containers and increasing prices once February rolled around. Jewelers only added to the hype around the holiday, which completed the trifecta of Valentine’s Day specialist companies.
All of the above companies usually start their marketing efforts well before the actual holiday, which can also be said for most companies and most holidays. We’ve all noticed the holiday creep: shelves are stocked with seasonal items long before the holiday in question is upon us. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, you name it, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. The motivation for holiday creep is for retailers to lengthen their selling interval for seasonal merchandise in order to maximize profit and give early-bird shoppers a head start on that holiday. To capitalize on this strategy, marketers often push their Valentine’s Day campaigns well in advance, usually starting in early January. It’s always about the next holiday, right?
There are several different angles to take in a marketing campaign focused on Valentine’s Day: the traditional approach that appeals to couples in love, the cynical approach that appeals to single people who hate the holiday (I can relate), the family approach, or present a focus on love for the product. The key to a great Valentine’s campaign is great copy and great design. Minimalism can go a long way, as well as being provocative and humorous. There are certain lines not to cross, but marketers can get away with more risky ideas during this time of year. Also, it might not be a bad idea to stray away from the obvious; most ads will make use of colors like red and pink, so using something different will make the company stand out amongst the clutter. Depending on the product and audience, being cliché might get mixed reviews from consumers, so use your discretion.
Using any holiday like this as a base for an ad campaign can lead to a big increase in engagement, as long as it’s done right. For Valentine’s Day in particular, there are so possibilities for campaigns. You can appeal to the sincere side of love, or you can appeal to the singles with cynicism. You can poke fun at the day, or treat it entirely seriously. It all depends on your target audience and the offer you have, but one thing is for sure: people who aren’t big spenders on Valentine’s Day usually end up with no one to spend big on.