I hate valentines day. I do. Let’s be honest, it’s ridiculous.
The actual story of St Valentine from where the day originates is actually quite good, a shame really it doesn’t feature in todays celebrations. The Valentines Day of our modern times is a magical concoction of marketing and sales working together at its absolute best. A super sales day forever endorsed by greetings card companies across the world.
What I LOVE about Valentines Day is the pure arrogance of it.
I LOVE the unashamed, blatant ridiculousness of the overpriced roses in the florist, the marketing emails that push my inbox to its max offering 2for1 spa days, theatre tickets, valentines themed tasting menus and weekends away that are double the price just because it’s 14th February.
I LOVE the way advertisers change their content to include words and images that make us feel whimsical and romantic.
I LOVE the rom-coms that are produced perfectly in time for Valentines weekend, opportunistic Hollywood producers scheming away in their heart shaped ivory towers, squeezing every last cent and tear drop out of loved up cinema goers.
I LOVE that every brand forgets any guidelines and all of a sudden becomes themed, with rose petal fondants from respectable chocolatiers and fast food brands cutting chicken pieces in to hearts.
I genuinely LOVE what it does to people. People of sound mind run around like headless chickens trying to get restaurant reservations, achieve something unique for their partners, desperately trying to do something memorable – how many proposals are happening today? I dare to think.
But, with all great marketing campaigns (and that’s what I believe Valentines Day is), there is always the dark side. The way it makes people feel that aren’t involved, that are on the outside. When you can’t afford the product that, due to impressive marketing and advertising, quantifies your position in the food chain, it hurts. It hurts because it’s rammed down your throat, there’s no escaping the fact that you do not have it.
I don’t love what the 14th February does for the lonely. It makes them feel crap, I’ve been there. But why? It’s just a simple day of the week that has no religious, political or historical relevance whatsoever (not anymore anyway). When I was younger, my Dad would send me an anonymous valentine’s card every year just to prevent me from feeling like that. He would fall in to the marketing trap because, what was the alternative? A seemingly ‘unloved’ little girl. (Thanks Dad... you can stop now.)
That is the power of this marketing machine! It can change the way you think about a product, a supermarket chain, a song, the way you think about yourself, the way you think of others, hell, it can change how you feel about a Tuesday!
This year, brands are at it again, if you haven't noticed the KFC 'chicken bouquet' or the heart shaped pizza from Pizza Hut - a quick google search will find you a plethora of articles detailing 2017s efforts. But, in my opinion, I actually found last year had some of the best valentines inspired campaigns. Here's a collection from 2016 compiled in this article by Lisa Lacy (LinkDex) https://www.linkdex.com/en-gb/inked/valentines-day-marketing-campaigns-2016/
Who can forget when Asda advertised the chance to record your actual heartbeat and set it to music for your loved one? Personally, if I had received this I would have run for the hills. Anyone who does this is clearly a psycho. However, my favourite piece of marketing last year came from Spotify and was part of their now famous user data driven campaign. I noticed this simple advert in Waterloo station that read;
“Dear person in LA who listened to the “Forever Alone” playlist for 4 hours on Valentines Day, You Ok?”
It made me laugh, think and feel. Simple and topical. That’s great marketing.
I love the way we are being good marketers even if we don’t mean to be. Today, at LHi Group, on my desk, I found a little pack of love hearts bearing my company logo. No, I don’t love valentines day, but I do love being treated, being valued and being thought about. In the same way I love receiving that card from Dad every year, as an employee, I don’t need big expensive gestures, I absolutely LOVE the way my company makes me feel when they do the little things.
So, here I find myself, on this big made up day, expressing my love for marketing, my profession and for where I work. And maybe, just maybe, I love valentines day...
But don’t tell anyone.