My bloody Valentine’s Day

“Oh, you mean love. You mean the big lightning bolt to the heart where you can’t eat and you can’t work and you just run off and get married and make babies. The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons. You’re born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.”Don Draper (Mad Men)

This year like every other since men in Manhattan decided to sell nylons, there are young girls feeling that defiant ache in anticipation of a memorable 14th Feb. They have dutifully shed a few pounds and removed the acne spots in the buildup. Young gentlemen on their part recognize this week as a glorious window to employ the magic formula of chocolate, flowers, a side smile FB pic and a RomCom to court the loves of their unimaginative lives.

There are other sets and subsets to this Valentine’s Day audience. The young married couple for instance would do the routine shopping for fancy evening wear and lingerie + a wine and dine that would not intoxicate them enough to shove away the predictability of their sex life, the only highlight under the sheets being the new Skyn condom.

Then there will be those who wouldn’t believe in the institution but could do with the discounts and the parties giving night clubs and restaurant’s an opportunity to advertise how cupid is on their guest list and menus respectively.

Point really being Valentine ’s Day is for everyone. I mean all marketers embrace it and therefore it is everywhere. Now the second biggest shopping holiday after Christmas (in the west) it is one of the great successes of advertising. Having said that some businesses are clear fits and others aren’t. I mean I’d be very interested in watching say a Huggies do Valentine ’s Day. In addition, some draw a chuckle others  just heart burns. Having said that there are certain essential ingredients to Valentine’s Day advertising:

A whole lotta love

Duh! As an advertiser it’s not easy to tell the truth on the world being a shit ball. Valentine’s Day you have to go a step further and convince your audience that not only is it not a roll of pungent lies, but in fact heaven itself. All we need is love, all we have is love.

I know many men who would still stand in the porch with a ring and a bunch of flowers but I don’t know many kids today you could orchestrate the following with:

Publix sells you that dream and does a fine job of a little class project.

Visual Devices

Heart, Heart and some more of it in red. It’s one of those occasions where brands mindfully choose the heart. Maybe it’s the research but it would be tough to find a Valentine’s Day ad without a throbbing cardiovascular.

The other usual suspects are flowers and lavish gifts. Call to action being “Buy Me” lie.

Sexual Overtones

Marketers do not leave a stone unturned to assure you that you will get laid on this day.

This to an extent that God forbid you don’t, you will have nowhere to seek solace. Even your Play Station will betray you, further accentuating how category agnostic Valentine ’s Day advertising has become:


More intelligent advertisers realize that there is a growing majority of people who know that prince charming isn’t going to appear from between a bouquet of flowers or lady love from behind the turn table. Staying with the times, advertisers have simplified the idea of Valentine ’s Day to that of love. Love for anything really. And that is usually presented in funny quirks that can break clutter.

Have a look at this Puma piece:


All in all Valentine ’s Day is just another fabricated celebration to sell End of Quarter stock or Launch a new product. It helps architect a strong incentive to Buy Now vs Later. That’s the reason most advertising during this period presumes that most young people have a loved one they must celebrate with and cuddle up to, preferably end up bonking.

Just like in a recent Telefora commercial Adriana Lima seduces men into giving (Telefora flowers) to receive (I’m thinking all that we desire). “Give and you shall receive” is the key message, because Adriana says so.

Valentine’s Day and India

History of vandalism and intolerance has lead to corporate treading rather carefully. Except ofcourse of Slice’s Valentine promotional ad featuring Katrina Kaif playing up the existing seduction platform through a possible date under the crown.

However, one sector that has done rather well of late is Films. You’ve heard this before, with a large majority of our population being young and frivolous Roadie like dipped in hot chocolate fudge, Valentine ’s Day releases make all the sense, Ek Mein aur Ekk tu case in point.

Diwali and Eid are taken by Mega Khans so this is a good time for the up and coming Chocolate boys and  Girls next door to giggle their way into the hearts of 2nd year college students around the country.

So how do brands sort out matters of heart
We feel brands must not get ahead of themselves trying to follow the Valentine heard. They should instead follow their heart and stay true to the soul of their own brand. Customers are more vulnerable at this time doesn’t mean putting up heart balloons is a solution.

–          Think of who amongst the Valentine’s Day audience do you want to talk to. Examples above suggest that target for let’s say a Nakshatra jewelry  is very different from that of Puma hooligans.

–          Help your prospects. I mean they are love sick and could do with a few ideas. For instance as a salon/spa instead of saying get 30% off on a haircut, how about you say Get Valentine’s Day Curls. You’ll probably sell that at a premium

–          Don’t blatantly lie and don’t guarantee. Show them that the benefit of acquisition isn’t short term. It’s bit hard to believe that crisps can work as aphrodisiacs. For eg. A smartphone brand can pivot onto the idea of “an impression that lasts beyond Valentine’s Day”.

These are just a few hear felt observations on Valentine’s Day advertising. Let us know how you feel. We LOVE hearing from you.



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