Valentine’s Day has had a subtle evolution over the years. While it’s still largely seen as a day for romance, people have shrugged off the notion that you need to be a couple to enjoy it. Valentine’s Day has become a holiday for celebrating friends, family, pets, and even pampering ourselves.
It’s also an opportunity for marketers to drive brand awareness, generate new leads, and show appreciation for their loyal customer base. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2018 consumers spent roughly $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day (or an average of $143.56 each, among those celebrating).
But as with any marketing campaign (holiday-themed or otherwise), you need to stand out against the widespread competition.
So, we’ve listed 5 creative Valentine’s Day campaigns to draw inspiration from, so you can launch promotions that win over the day’s fans and critics.
Ford Mustang Speed Dating
In 2015, women in the millennial age bracket were buying more cars than men. However, the automotive industry was still male-centric when it came to its marketing and branding. So, Ford sought to shatter the stereotype while showing a new version of “speed dating” as a wink to the upcoming Valentine’s Day.
In Ford’s video campaign, a professional stunt driver was set up on a series of dates with unsuspecting men, who she took on a high-speed drive in a Ford Mustang. The video is highly entertaining, showcasing Prestin Persson’s impressive skill set, and the rollercoaster of nerves, excitement, and esteem her dates experience (they only find out she’s a stunt driver at the end of the ride).
The video was highly successful, resulting in 12.8 million views. It shows the necessity of truly knowing your customer base and expressing appreciation for them. The message was specific (highlighting Ford’s respect for female drivers) without alienating anyone. It also showed that chocolates, flowers, and jewelry aren’t the only products that fit into the Valentine’s Day marketing landscape.
For the donut/coffee chain formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts (now just Dunkin’), they use Valentine’s Day as a chance to reward and showcase their loyal customer base. In 2017, they announced a contest in which customers would share how Dunkin’ has fit into their love stories via Instagram with the hashtag #DunkinLoveContest. Winners would receive a special Valentine’s Day gift and a year supply of coffee and donuts. (They launched a similar contest in 2018, continuing the tradition.)
But first, they kicked off the contest by honoring a couple whose love story (from the first date to the proposal, down to the wedding
cake donuts) featured Dunkin’. The campaign was sentimental, sweet, and showed how Dunkin’ was a part of people’s lives.
In creating a contest that involved user-generated content, Dunkin’ was able to engage and reward customers while building social proof. Seeing the positive experiences people have with your brand is more authentic, and convincing, than a sales pitch. Especially with the impact online reviews have on businesses, highlighting positive user experiences is vital for maintaining brand credibility.
Aerie’s brand is centered on women’s empowerment, self-love, and inclusivity. When the company launched their #AerieREAL campaign, which pledged to only use unretouched photos in their ads, they were met with much success (a 20% growth in sales).
In 2017, Aerie stayed true to their core values and brand messaging with their Valentine’s Day campaign that turned “V-Day” into “U-Day.” Rather than promoting their underwear and lingerie as an opportunity to impress someone else, Aerie’s sales promotions (and a U-Day pop-up shop) were focused on individuality and friendships. The whole concept was about treating yourself and practicing self-love, which resulted in a positive omnichannel marketing campaign that was a seamless fit for their brand.
IKEA Pregnancy Test
Admittedly, this campaign had a few skeptics. But it was creative, unexpected, and caught people’s attention. In 2018, IKEA created an interactive magazine ad for a crib that featured a pregnancy test strip. The ad promised a discount for those that were expecting with the slogan, “Peeing on this ad may change your life.”
While the ad was released in January, the media buzz carried on for a few weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day (which may have been the point). It also captured the spirit of IKEA, which is built around utility, cost-effectiveness, and building a home. Not to mention, it certainly engaged users and offered an experience, even if people were concerned about bringing a used pregnancy strip in stores (but apparently, that wasn’t required).
Omaze: Idris Elba Gets Valentine’s Day Advice from Kids
In 2017, the fundraising platform Omaze joined forces with Idris Elba to raise money for W.E. Can Lead, an organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities and empowerment to girls in Sierra Leone. Those that donated to the campaign were entered in a raffle to win a date with Idris Elba (that is, to be his Valentine that year).
In the second promotional video for this campaign, Idris Elba asks a group of children for advice on what to do on a first date. The video is heartwarming, filled with laughs, and reached 6.2 million views.
This video offers a new perspective on romance and dating without feeling sappy or insincere. Not to mention, there’s the influencer element of having Idris Elba be the lucky winner’s Valentine.
These campaigns show how creative and versatile Valentine’s Day marketing can be. But more than just having great ideas, these companies produced campaigns that were on-brand and resonated with their customer base. Contests, user-generated content, leveraging influencers, humor, creating engaging experiences and, of course, a sentimental touch, are all great tactics to incorporate into your campaign this year to leave a lasting impression.
Feel like the clock is ticking and you’re stuck on what to do for Valentine’s Day? Read these Last-Minute Ways to Personalize Your Site for Valentine’s Day to help you make the most out of this holiday.
Kelly is a Content Marketing Specialist at AB Tasty—the all-in-one platform for testing, personalization, and optimization to drive user engagement. She’s particularly interested in how users respond to content and design in different mediums. To read more of her posts, visit the AB Tasty blog.