Has Cupid Lost His Edge or Does Valentine’s Day Need a Marketing Makeover?

Tired of frilly, pink Valentine’s Day cards? Feel like there should be more to this “day of love” other than gauche chocolates and supermarket bought flowers? It maybe time for Valentine’s Day to receive some variation of a makeover. Enough with the cheesy advertisements! Down with the heart-shaped cavity causers! It’s time Valentine’s Day underwent some form of rebranding. Surely, there is a way to market a holiday dedicated to affection that doesn’t come across as contrived. How can marketers sell love without all the overplayed gimmicks?

Theoretically, Valentine’s Day is actually quite endearing. A holiday that takes roots in both Roman and Christian tradition, Valentine’s Day celebrates the martyred saint Valentinus, who was put to death by Emperor Claudius for secretly marrying young men and women. Emperor Claudius thought his soldiers operated best if they were without families and wives. Ever since then, Valentine’s Day has become a widely celebrated holiday where approximately 150 million cards are exchanged on a yearly basis. What is emblazoned on these cards? Mainly, overplayed, cliché messages. In addition to these greeting cards, many advertisements have been circulating that promise love (or the act of love) in exchange for flowers or chocolates. Here is one such example from Teleflora:

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Using a high profile supermodel, Teleflora was able to sell Valentine’s Day pretty well to guys across the nation, but Adriana Lima putting on stockings didn’t exactly spell “marketing brilliance” to the rest of us. Towards the end of the advertisement, Lima seductively adds, “Give, and you shall receive”. Is Valentine’s Day just a simple exchange of goods and services now? Is it wrong to “sell” love? Few brands actually manage to sell the concept of love with sincerity and emotion. One of the few, Cartier uses great music and romantic shots of the city to capture its audience. Their “How Far Would You Go For LOVE?” campaign does manage to pull at the heartstrings, all the while using a genuine tone and beautiful editing.

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Whatever your feelings towards Valentine’s Day, marketing this holiday needs to be done with at least a touch of genuineness. “Selling” love might be a contradiction, but a tastefully done advertisement like “Painted Love” inspires rather than sells. The chocolate and candied hearts can stay, but the cheesy commercials have to stop. Bring on the genuine!

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