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A Look Back at 2018 Valentine’s Advertising


INFLUENCER: Camp + King's David Morrissey takes a look at the winners and losers of Valentine's Day 2018

A Look Back at 2018 Valentine’s Advertising

After the holiday season and Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day advertising efforts are easily overlooked by marketers - but shouldn’t be. Valentine’s is big business. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that consumer spending for 2018 would reach $19.6B.1 

With that in mind, Camp + King's David Morrissey offers you a quick view into the winners and losers (not just those without dates) this Valentine’s season, and insights to ensure consumers fall in love with your brand for Valentine’s Day 2019.

The Way To Your Valentine’s Heart Is Through The Stomach

Outside of the brands you’d expect to see increasing advertising spend in February (candy, flowers, jewellery), it’s food and QSR brands that rose to the occasion with unique initiatives. As the saying goes, food is love.

Our favourite from this category: Snickers, who perfectly extended its 'You’re not you when you’re hungry' campaign to solve a common Valentine’s frustration - forgetting to make a dinner reservation. After all, Snickers suggested, you’re forgetful when you’re hungry. Snickers parked a van in London and posed the question, “Need a table for tonight?” Passersby could pull a reservation card from the van for a table at a pop-up restaurant with a top UK chef.

Other interesting executions: KFC tapped into the nostalgia of schoolyard Valentines, offering fried chicken scented scratch-n-sniff Valentines. Meanwhile, McDonald’s sparkled with its 'Bling Mac' social media contest, inviting fans to express their adoration for the Big Mac for the chance to win a $12,500 bejewelled ring.

On the flip-side of these examples poking fun is Panera Bread, which invited people to propose at one of its locations for a chance at a free catered wedding. Put aside that there is no food less romantic than a bread bowl, those who did actually get engaged at Panera were then entered into a drawing for the free catering. Come on. Opportunity missed.

This Modern Love

The other underlying trend was brands using the holiday for social commentary, addressing gender and relationship norms, unhealthy relationships, and love in the era of the #metoo movement. 

One interesting execution that forced people to evaluate their own behaviours was the One Love Foundation #LoveBetter pop-up store in New York. In the week leading up to Valentine’s, a store opened seemingly offering traditional Valentine’s gifts like candy, jewellery, and stuffed animals. However, upon closer inspection, each item struck a darker chord, providing commentary on unhealthy behaviours to draw attention to the reality of abusive relationships.

Two brands contemporised themselves without entering into these cultural conversations, too. Tiffany’s, long a Valentine’s favourite, created 'The Tiffany Tattoo Shop' a series of tattoo-like stickers that users can add to their Instagram photos, creating branded customer photos for Tiffany’s, as well as offering its younger visitors a fun interactive experience.

Kudos also go to another Valentine’s classic, Sweethearts conversation hearts candy, for modernising without stepping away from its heritage. In recent years, those heart-shaped candies with classic Valentine’s messages (“Be Mine” or “Kiss Me”) printed on them have begun offering more modern messages, too, like “Text Me” and “Tweet Me.” The result? Sweethearts now command more share for Valentine’s candy than heart-shaped chocolate boxes. 

Searching for love

Consumers are turning to search more than ever to make their Valentine’s Day purchases. 1800Flowers proved to be the paid search winner, ratcheting up its spend with 890 unique search ads that garnered ~35% of Valentine’s paid click-share.

Still, search trends suggest that marketers are missing big opportunities. According to Google, the top-searched Valentine’s topic for 2018 was “Valentine’s gift” earning a whopping 60% of the search volume. Most frequently it’s women searching for gifts for men, not the other way around. Indeed, two of the top five most frequently Googled questions were “What to get your boyfriend on Valentine’s Day” and “What to get a guy on Valentine’s Day.”

This makes sense: Men have basically been programmed to buy flowers and chocolate for their significant others on Valentine’s, whereas women are offered less V-day gift guidance. When you consider that women typically give more gifts than they receive during other holidays,11 there’s a huge opportunity for a brand to fill this void and capitalise on these search trends.

David Morrissey serves as Strategy Director + Head of Communications Planning at Camp + King

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Sapka Communications, Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:48:42 GMT