In 2016, Valentine’s Day is no longer just a Hallmark holiday. In fact, many brands – including those not typically associated with Cupid and hearts, like insurance and toilet paper – are sharing real-life love stories or facilitating communication with themed holiday content.
In addition, while Hallmark’s 2015 Valentine’s campaign made headlines for featuring gay couples, brands have sought to expand the definition of love even further this year – and to even try to make sure single consumers don’t feel left out either. Speed dating has returned in a slightly different format in 2016, but, sadly, there are no drones or shredders (although a Goodwill in Florida wants lonelyhearts to donate their exes’ stuff). Branded content for Valentine’s Day 2016 is also less about how-tos – although they pop up here and there as well.
Top 21 Valentine’s Day Marketing Campaigns Of 2016
In short: If there is an overall theme this year, it’s simple executions with stories about real consumers – and lots of video. Here are 21 campaigns for Valentine’s Day 2016 we love.
To coincide with the launch of its Chuck Taylor All Star Valentine’s Day collection, the shoe brand released an interactive video, Couples, celebrating “its love of sneakers and the creatives that wear them” with five real-life couples.
Zurich Insurance Group
The Swiss insurance company wants to remind consumers they can take steps to protect their love by asking them to “mark [their] love on its True Love Maps” and “send it to toast to a happy love story together.”
On February 8, the coffee giant debuted three chocolate beverages, which were available for a single week, along with the #StarbucksDate GIF Giver, which allows users to choose a GIF, type the name of a friend and save or share, as well as a curated collection of Favorite Love Songs on Spotify, like Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, Audrey Hepburn’s “Moon River”, and Etta James’ “At Last”. But Starbucks, too, is sharing tales of real-life romance in a collection of love stories from customers and employees alike.
So, too, is UK supermarket chain Asda, which is celebrating couples who met while working there, while also allowing consumers to send “that extra special someone” their actual heart beats, which are recorded and turned into songs via its Send Your Heart app. “The Send Your Heart app uses your phone’s camera to record your smitten heartbeat,” Asda says. “We then set it to a romantic piece of music for you to send to your one and only Valentine. Who could resist that?”
For 10 days, flower delivery service Teleflora offered what it called a Love Note Concierge for consumers struggling to put the right words on paper. “Every year, while ordering beautiful bouquets gets easier, consumers struggle to craft that personal, special and important accompanying note,” the brand said in a statement. “Now…writing the perfect sentiment is easier than ever with a personal coach to help you express everything you want to say to your loved one.” From February 3 to 12, consumers could access the service by calling 1–844-IT-IS-LOVE. Like Hallmark, Teleflora also released a video, What is Love?, which it says includes one-of-a-kind love stories and “celebrates every kind of love.”
Similarly, as part of its This is Wholesome series, graham cracker brand Honey Maid released its Love Day video and invited consumers to “help us celebrate a different kind of love on Love Day.”
2016 is also perhaps noteworthy because it includes branded content that seeks to expand the definition of love beyond even same-sex couples. To wit: Toilet paper brand Angel Soft has a surprisingly sweet video, Related By Love, in which stepchildren and their step-parents recount the long often complicated road to acceptance and love in blended families, drawing parallels to the product with messaging about softness and strength. “Loving a child takes softness,” Angel Soft says in the video. “Loving a child who doesn’t automatically love you back…that takes incredible strength.”
For its part, video chat service Skype has a slew of what it calls “love-centered content” to help consumers enjoy Valentine’s Day. That includes a Love tab, which it says features its best romance-inspired emoticons and “Mojis,” which is what Skype calls emojis unique to the service that feature sound and video, including a new set designed by none other than Sir Paul McCartney “to help you express different forms of love through music.” Of the McCartney Mojis, Skype writes, “Sometimes words alone just can’t express how you feel, so you might send a heart emoticon, or a teddy bear hug. But we knew that there was more we could do to truly help our users celebrate love.” In addition, Skype says mobile users can now search for Mojis and emoticons by emotion to “[make] sharing how you’re feeling even easier.” Users can also record Valentine’s Day video messages “with floating hearts to help set the mood.”
— Versace (@Versace) February 14, 2016
Italian fashion house Versace also got into the Valentine’s Day spirit by releasing custom emojis to push a line of T-shirts in its Valentine’s Day Gift Guide that start at $695, along with the hashtag #VersaceSharesLove.
The consumer electronics retailer got a little cheeky in a promotional video for a faux collection of love songs about appliances. Per HHGregg, the album, Appliance Love Songs Volume 3, is “the greatest collection of love songs about appliances ever collected in one collection” and includes Weird-Al-like hits such as “Dishwasher on My List” and “When a Man Does the Laundry.” Hosted by faux musician Stan LaSteel, the brand encourages consumers to “send a long distance dedication tweet to your favorite appliance lover.”
With a little help from a white piano strewn with rose petals, pro footballer Pepe recites a love poem to sportswear brand Umbro in a video shot especially for Valentine’s Day 2016. “The Real Madrid and Portugal star has already expressed his love for Umbro, but he’s taking it to another level in this special video,” the brand says.
Canadian Doritos lovers are in luck as the brand offered “very limited quantities” of “12 beautiful long-stem Doritos Ketchup Roses” while supplies lasted to consumers in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. By February 12, they were sold out. However, those that missed their chance can still access a DIY guide on the website and “get crafty for love.” And, to help guide the creative process, Doritos has also provided coupons and even “Things Your Man Could Say,” like, “Seriously, girl, you made my dreams come true.”
The streaming video giant wants to remind consumers “you can’t help falling in love with someone who loves your favorite Netflix show as much as you do” in its Binge for Love video.
In its Valentine’s Day Dilemma video, jeweler Pandora reminds men “who need a second chance” that baubles will soothe their partners’ hot tempers. “The unwritten rules of gift giving are a complicated matter – and present a dilemma that every man faces: There’s a special day coming up and you have no idea what to buy her,” Pandora says. “You reach for the old classics – chocolates, flowers, stuffed toys – and set yourself up for failure because that’s not what she really wants. Avoid lukewarm responses, grave disappointments or flying objects, and get it right the first time.”
Like White Castle and Waffle House before it, fried chicken leviathan KFC is reportedly offering more of a fine dining experience at one of its UK locations, including a special Valentine’s Day experience with a tablecloth, candelabra and a soft drink sommelier.
The Chipotle competitor says it is “gearing up for a Valentine’s Day lovefest” with the return of its Qdoba for a Kiss campaign in which “fans who share a spicy smooch at the register will receive a free entrée with the purchase of an entrée on Valentine’s Day.” The brand encourages consumers to “get creative with it and show your own personal flavor — kiss a picture of your favorite celebrity crush, your significant other, or even kiss yourself — it all counts!” Per Qdoba’s vice president of brand marketing, David Craven, the effort “inspired thousands of kisses” last year and it is adding Vine stars to the mix this year to help drive awareness.
Some brands even have a little something for those who theoretically have nothing on Valentine’s Day 2016. Take on-demand streaming video service Feeln, for example. This service, which is part of the Hallmark family and says it “brings you heartfelt stories of love and togetherness, anytime, anywhere,” rolled out Your Perfect Valentine’s Date with former romance novel cover model and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spokesman Fabio. The 18-minute video includes champagne, smooth jazz, a wind machine, a fireplace, long silences in which he smiles and nods and a quote from Steel Magnolias – and that’s just in the first three minutes. “Spend a romantic evening in front of a roaring fire with international icon, Fabio,” Feeln says. “He brought the champagne (and kittens), and he’s here to celebrate the day of love with you.”
— Dairy Queen (@DairyQueen) February 14, 2016
Fast food chain Dairy Queen, too, doesn’t want lonelyhearts to feel left out and is inviting partner-less consumers to “celebrate singledom and treat yourself with the Singles Blizzard treat” and to use the hashtag #BreakTheCliche.
For its part, UK grocery retailer Tesco decided to do a social experiment, Basket Dating, in which it enlisted a psychotherapist/matchmaker to pair shoppers based on the content of their baskets. Tesco says it invited 32 single shoppers to take part. Each was asked to shop for a Friday night in before the psychologist analyzed their baskets. “Our shopping baskets can say a lot about us – from our cooking and living habits to hints about our romantic personality,” said Food Behavior Psychologist Rachel Morris. From the 32 shoppers, sixteen couples were invited on mini-dates in the produce aisle and, per Tesco, “sparks flew” between five couples that were then treated to “special romantic [dates]” with champagne cocktails and, naturally, a Valentine’s menu from Tesco. At the end, the video includes clickable options with ideas for viewers to create their own date nights at home.