In 30 seconds:
- V-Day is just around the corner, but when exactly should you start your marketing campaign?
- Helen Clow, Growth Director at Brainlabs, offers insight on how to navigate the current climate and keep the rose-tinted glasses on.
- Looking for the best Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns? We’re taking you on a journey through the ones that had our hearts beating faster.
The butterflies are starting to stir. It’s time to look at your Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns.
Contenders are fierce, the competition plentiful, and your marketing efforts need to make you stand out in a sea of hearts.
In a world where love is still on the minds of many, you need to know how to drive ROI, build long-term relationships and nail your engagement this year.
To get that happening, you’re going to need to take risks, think bold and build campaigns that nail it every time.
Even with this year’s economic challenges, the estimated spending for Valentine’s Day 2023 was 26 billion US dollars. The Valentine’s Day spending outlook for 2024 is also far from negative for brands willing to put in the work for their marketing strategy.
But what is the temperature like at the moment? How are people feeling? How do they want to spread the love this year?
We sat down with Helen Clow, Growth Director at Brainlabs, to explore some campaigns that really hit the spot and what brands should look out for when planning out their marketing for the upcoming love fest.
Cupid’s arrows at the ready. Let’s hit the mark.
The secret ingredient for love – community
Helen has a significant prediction this year.
This year will need a bit more tact when it comes to Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns.
She states, “With everything going on in the world at the moment, it can come across as a little insensitive to focus too much on consumerism, so putting heartfelt to the front and emphasising that is the way forward.”
It’s really going to come down to playing into customers’ feel-good emotions to drive sales.
According to Helen, this Valentine’s Day is going to be less about “self-love” and all about selflessness. The community will be at the forefront of everything, and tapping into customer loyalty will be key.
One thing to note is that consumers will automatically buy from brands they already love.
So, in reality, targeting your already established communities (warm leads) will be your best bet. Helen says, “People need to love your brand already; I’m not going to buy your product just because I saw it on TikTok.” It means brands need to be looking at nurturing their loyal customers way before V-day and beyond it, too.
Businesses might see brand community as something to merely keep in mind, but whoever neglects it now will inevitably fall behind in 2024. You need to think about how you can show your community some love this season in order to encourage them to pay it back.
When to start your Valentine’s Day campaigns
Save the date – we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.
When to start your Valentine’s campaign, however, remains a point of contention. The season tends to come and go in a relatively short time, so planning is pivotal. Here are some helpful points you will want to consider before making your decision.
Start thinking about your campaign way before you even get to the planning bit. Pay close attention to your community and to consumer habits throughout the year to get a good insight into what to expect for the Day of Love. When the time for planning comes, you will be ahead and have an idea of what you want the focus of the campaign to be on.
Starting early allows for wiggle room for your Valentine’s Day campaign to grow and evolve all the way through the weeks leading up to the day. You’ll need to ensure your landing pages and online store are working properly before your campaigns go live. Plus, your email list and any email marketing campaigns should be honed and drafted with plenty of time before the Valentine’s Day season.
Procrastinators and last-minute buyers are extremely common around Valentine’s Day. Drive action towards the end of the season with a Valentine’s Day Sale or a limited-time offer. If you’re late to the game, hyper-targeted social media ads and influencer campaigns can still give you some traction over the V-Day week.
The best of both worlds is going to be the winning strategy. If you can drive early action before the big day, test, evolve and grow your campaigns right up to V-Day itself, then you’ll be onto a winner.
What are examples of good marketing campaigns?
We’ve got a list of the best Valentine’s Day campaigns, plus what you need to learn from them.
1. DoorDash – self-love with a twist
Valentine’s Day has evolved. It isn’t as much about romantic relationships anymore as it is about including other forms of it.
Like investing in the most important person in your life: You.
But promoting self-love has a bit of a cringe factor to it these days. People are somewhat over the “love letter to myself” kind of campaign. Last year, Valentine’s Day was awash with self-care and self-gifting (remember Galentine’s Day everyone?).
This year, if you want to focus on this, you’ll need to find a different angle. Perhaps take a leaf out of DoorDash’s book.
What they did
With their self-love bouquet, they appealed to a target audience that may usually not care much for the excitement around Valentine’s Day – single people (the singles).
It’s not just a simple flower bouquet as you would initially expect, especially with the presentation in their ad. With the notion of wanting to focus on buying things that last, flowers seem a little redundant, so they took a different angle. Besides the flowers, they also offered a rose-shaped sex toy incorporated into the bouquet.
Why it worked
Promoting self-love to your customers by offering them the typical and expected things like chocolates, skincare, and even flowers is overdone and, frankly, quite boring.
It’s not really personal or all that creative anymore, and you run the danger of people just glancing over it and forgetting right away.
With blatant consumerism feeling a little icky this year, you’re going to really need to focus on what your target audience actually wants.
DoorDash’s campaign saw a perfect opportunity to take a fairly standard Valentine’s Day gift (roses) and pair it with something unexpected and on-point for their market (DoorDash’s target demographics tend to be in the younger adult segment, with 34% of consumers aged 18-24 using food delivery apps, and 30% of those aged 25-34).
The seriously clever element of this, though, was the choice of product. DoorDash didn’t choose just any sex toy. They used a toy that was already TikTok famous.
#rosetoy has 438.4M views on the platform, making it the perfect product placement. All these factors combine to make a campaign that really does come up roses.
2. Cadbury Silk – gifts you can interact with
When talking about community, an important aspect is to be interactive and make the audience feel included.
Cadbury Silk did this smoothly through influencer collaborations – a great way to build engagement.
What they did
For this special occasion, Cadbury Silk figured they needed to play cupid and spread some extra ethical love advice.
Their limited-edition version of Heart Blush comes with a QR code that you can scan, which provides the consumer with “unforgettable love tips”.
That’s not all: the ideas are brought to them by Gen Z’s favourite creators and also include healthy relationship advice to make sure no one feels alienated.
Why it worked
Chocolates have been an integral part of Valentine’s Day for decades and are still a popular choice, with 57% of consumers expecting to purchase candy.
A classic choice and popular category means that your marketing campaign needs to deliver so much more.
Cadbury Silk recognised the intrigue in interactive elements for products. Especially if the product is meant to be consumed and will be, consequently, gone, it’s nice to have something in addition to the treat. Something more to give to the customer.
There is an element of excitement about what kind of ideas and tips they will find on the other end of their special code, plus it gives young people something to think about within their relationships.
It’s less about mindless spending and more about mindful love.
Brands can’t just hope to put out chocolate box treats and be done with it. You need to be thinking outside the chocolate box and building more on top of your Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns. By using influencers in their campaign, they were able to build a more authentic bond with their audience as well as educate them.
The picture is a lot bigger than a simple chocolate heart. This year, brands need to do this more than ever, building on their products and creating content that influences culture.
3. Krispy Kreme – give to receive
Standing out and engaging people is at the heart of any successful social media campaign.
You want to get people talking on and about your post so it can increase reach, push UGC (user-generated content) and create even more interest.
That’s where giveaways come in. Be it giving away your product or promo codes, it’s up to you to get creative with it. Krispy Kreme did, though maybe not exactly the way you might expect.
What they did
This was one of Krispy Kreme’s last hurrahs just before the big day. On the 13th of February, they posted a giveaway on Instagram and Twitter that their customers could interact with until midnight on Valentine’s Day.
The prize? A limited edition Krispy Kreme ring… for your work spouse.
That’s right, as one of their last marketing tricks, they decided to speak to a crowd marketers often don’t consider, and people loved it.
Why it worked
Krispy Kreme started its marketing weeks before Valentine’s Day, and the team had to consider that they would need something new and exciting to grab people’s attention at the end of it.
The goal was to get people talking about them and boosting their presence on social media platforms so their other social media posts surrounding the day would also be seen – the ones that actually promoted their products and special offers.
A giveaway and the prospect of winning something is sure to attract people. Especially if you limit the number of prizes to be won like Krispy Kreme did. It feels exclusive and even more special if you actually win.
But the genius comes from the different angles they spun.
This is a perfect gift for a work spouse and feels more inclusive, fun, relatable, and, of course, engaging.
Professionals predicted that people would spend 14$ more on gifts for coworkers, family, and friends in 2023 than in the years before. This isn’t set to change in 2024.
People interacted with them on socials and were hugely active in the comments, tagging their work besties.
Promoting this kind of UGC sparked conversations with massive positive sentiment. You can tell how onboard users were with the concept through comments like this one:
“#joyUnboxed omg @xxx win me this immediately!!! … Or the printer ink gets it!!! 😈 Mwahahahahaaaa”
This is the kind of campaign that generates tons of customer engagement, builds trust, boosts brand awareness, and increases reach all in one.
Fast food brands already have die-hard fans and know their audience. So it’s less about creating last-minute sales for a product and more about making a shareable cultural moment.
A new product from Coca-Cola, Burger King or KFC might pique some interest. But won’t cause as much of a stir as impactful creative like the Coca-Cola Santa Clause ad, Burger King humorous clapbacks and the KFC “FCK” apology note.
Be bold. Be risky. Turn heads.
4. Etsy – giving back to the community
Etsy, as an e-commerce platform, puts small businesses at the forefront. They want to bring across the feeling of community in all their socials.
As Helen stated, it will come down to encouraging consumers to give back to their community. Or, in Etsy’s case, to lots of their small communities within their platform.
What they did
Besides the wonderful assortment of gifts Etsy promotes specifically for the holiday, they are also vigilant in featuring all kinds of different creators and businesses on their socials, whether that be from handmade Valentine’s gift cards, to a whole gift guide full of bespoke accessories.
The focus is less on specific products and more on the individual shops or niches, as well as staying on theme with the holiday.
Around Valentine’s Day, they promoted artists by showing how products were produced as well as taking different angles on the special day. On socials, they shared sellers’ content and opened up conversations of unexpected love.
They even catered to everyone who had their heart broken. The audio spoke about heartbreak in the form of a failed relationship, while the video itself promoted a kit to fix a broken piece of porcelain. After all, breaking a beloved piece can also be really heartbreaking.
Why it worked
Their creative ways of promoting individual shops are what stand out to the crowd. Every business is different, so it wouldn’t do to have the same formats for all of them.
Etsy’s social media teams try hard to emulate the feel of the shop and do their promotion justice.
Sometimes, it’s humorous, sometimes aesthetically pleasing.
Promoting something that isn’t a material product or one specific thing can be difficult and requires a lot of creativity and courage to try out new things.
Etsy takes risks by allowing sellers to do what they do best. They do the same with influencers, too.
Etsy partners with creators who bring their whole self to an ad. You can tell that each piece of content is true to the creator’s style, making it feel authentic, real and irresistible.
They aren’t prescriptive with either creators’ or sellers’ content. They know that these individuals have the best experience and expertise to deliver the right content.
They foster a sense of community as well as the wish to support small businesses, which is something Helen Clow also highlights.
Instead of buying standard gifts, people wish to invest in interesting things they may not find anywhere else.
They are specific about the content they share, honing in on trending topics and gifts like art and indie crafts. Andas studies show, #buyartnotcandy and #shopindie are some of the most frequently used terms around Valentine’s Day promotion.
5. Yankee Candle – support a good cause
As Helen Clow emphasised, Valentine’s Day 2024 is going to be all about selflessness.
The world is in turmoil, and it seems that indulging in extravagant gifts will not be on some consumers’ agendas. But what if, by supporting your company, they would also support a good cause? Yankee Candle did exactly that with a new fragrance.
What they did
Just before Valentine’s Day, Yankee Candle presented their newest fragrance line Love for All. It’s an LGBTQ+-inspired collection that would be released around the season of love and promoted all the way into June, which is pride month.
It wasn’t just a fantastic scent that won people’s hearts. They promote it as part of their support for the non-profit organisation Rainbow Railroad, which helps LGBTQ+ members in danger get to safety all around the world. They have supported the organisation in the past, and with their new line, they say so loud and proud.
Why it worked
With all the difficulties in the world, Yankee Candle shows its customers that there is still light out there. The light is love, which is what Valentine’s Day is all about.
Supporting a cause that is heavily intertwined with inclusivity and the sentiment that love is for everyone, not just whoever fits the standard, works for the holiday that celebrates all things connected to the topic.
This strategy furthermore played into people’s emotions and the warm feelings that will make them want to purchase a product.
It’s not just about encouraging others to give and donate. Helen Clow stresses the importance of setting a great example yourself and supporting the cause instead of just expecting your customers to do so. Put your money where your mouth is and give back this Valentine’s to really become memorable.
Make donations easy by creating a UX-optimised landing page from your content.
Spread kindness, spread love, and your community will remember you.
Make them feel the love
Now that we’ve got the cogs in your mind turning, it’s time to refine your Valentine’s Day marketing strategy to make this Valentine’s Day unforgettable.
Helen Clow asks the question, “Do you want to use the moment to push some small products, or do you want to focus on driving the brand name and making a profound impact on the community?” With people being more mindful of their spending, Helen continues, “The focus for brands should be on the long-term benefits; for me, that’s what Valentine’s is.”
Don’t wait too long. Engage your communities now, ask them to be your Valentine, build anticipation and think about the bigger picture.
Valentine’s is the perfect time of year for brands to put themselves in a completely new light. Think about how you can create not just high-performing campaigns but actual cultural moments that build groundbreaking conversations.
Is it just a time to get increased sales? Or is it a great opportunity to push brand awareness with more conceptual ad creative?
That’s your decision to make, but one thing is for sure. You won’t be sweeping people off their feet if you don’t think bold.
This is your love story, so write it well.
If you’re unsure of how to spread the seeds of true love and nurture them this year, we’re here to play cupid. Get in touch, and we will show you how to make your marketing arrows fly, hit the spot, and captivate the hearts of your audience.
Want more insights into the youngest generation and how to tap into their desires? Take a look at our links below: