Love, flowers, chocolate, blah blah blah …
Where are the marketing results?!
Okay, probably not what your Valentine’s date cares about. But if you’re a marketer, you might be interested in merging the most lovey-dovey of days with your marketing. But how?
Well, these companies have figured out some creative ways to leverage the warm and fuzzies (or unadulterated rage and crushing loneliness … whatever) that Valentine’s Day instills in people.
If you don’t have a marketing campaign planned for the 14th, maybe some of these will inspire you to get in on some last-minute Valentine’s Day action.
8 Effective Valentine’s Day Marketing Campaigns
1. Ranch Dressing’s Customized Bottle
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like giving someone a bottle of — Ranch Dressing?
In 2021, while flower companies and B2C brands were highlighting the romantic gifts partners could give to each other, Hidden Valley took a funny approach to this strategy by offering audiences customized Valentine’s Day-themed bottles of Ranch salad dressing.
While this seems like an odd gift to some, Hidden Valley knows that they have fans out there that just love to cover everything they eat with Ranch dressing. To those audiences, this gift is funny, personalized, and potentially useful.
2. Pandora’s Little Acts of Love
A common pushback people give for Valentine’s Day is that appreciation for loved ones should be shared all year round. Jewelry company Pandora emphasized that small acts of love are suitable anytime with their “Little Acts of Love” placement in 2022.
The ad shows couples displaying acts of kindness towards one another that would be appreciated any day of the year. This ad reminds us all that thoughtful gestures can go a long way.
3. 1-800-Flowers’ Galentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for significant others, and 1-800-Flowers wants friendships to be celebrated as well.
This ad depicts two friends talking about how they established their friendship, reminding the viewer that platonic love also deserves to be celebrated. The two friends in the ad ask each other thoughtful questions about their friendship and how much they mean to each other.
It’s an emotional ad that will inspire you to call your best friend, and maybe send them some flowers.
4. Hallmark’s Tell Them They Matter This Valentine’s Day
A Valentine’s Day ad with an important message — everyone deserves to feel like they matter. This ad depicts a young woman who is inundated with negative messages from peers on social media. The messages are pretty bleak and would be hard to hear for anyone.
At the end, she finds a Valentine’s Day card in her locker from her best friend reminding her she matters and is loved, which helps drown out the negativity of the messages at the top of the ad. Though more series in nature, this heartwarming ad shows how powerful our words really are, and inspires us to show more kindness to one another.
5. Target Valentine’s Day Haul Instagram Post
Many people have experienced walking into Target without a list, relying on Target to tell them what they need. This user-generated post on Target’s Instagram account captures the spirit of what we all love about Target — how easy it is to load up on fun items (though our bank accounts may not share the love).
In the video, the original poster fills their cart with festive Valentine’s Day merchandise at their local Target. Though it isn’t a traditionally produced ad, it’s a relatable post for Target shoppers who may have been inspired to visit their local store and pick up some of the items they saw featured in the post to celebrate.
6. MeUndies Match Me Valentine’s Day
This relatable MeUndies ad from 2021 captures the spirit of communicating via Zoom that many people have become familiar with since early 2020.
In the ad, couples talk about some of their pre-pandemic plans including travel, and weddings. Though many of those events didn’t go as planned, the couples talked about ways they’ve grown closer despite the challenges and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic all while wearing matching merch from MeUndies.
7. Winc’s Be Wine Instagram Post
Wine is a popular Valentine’s Day gift that is up there with roses and chocolate. Wine subscription company Winc typically devotes real estate on their social channels for Valentine’s Day-themed posts in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
In 2021, the Winc Instagram account had a series of posts consisting of unique and user-generated content related to Valentine’s Day. The “Be Wine?” post was among the most popular. We loved the punny caption and heart-themed visuals.
8. OpenTable’s Millennial Experiences
If you’ve ever marketed to millennials, you may know that millennials value experiential gifts. Or, as OpenTable says in this 2020 ad, dates.
In 2020 OpenTable released 14 ads as part of a two-week countdown to Valentine’s Day, encouraging customers to make reservations early to avoid the holiday rush.
Each of the ads targeted a different audience that could benefit from using OpenTable to make Valentine’s Day reservations, with a clear call-to-action and messaging that appeals to the ideal viewer.
Honorable Mention: Match.com’s “Match Made in Hell” campaign.
Technically, this campaign wasn’t created for Valentine’s Day specifically. But, many of our marketers thought it had all the perfect elements of a great Valentine’s Day campaign. Because of this, we wouldn’t be surprised if it sees a lot of circulation in February.
In the commercial, directed by actor Ryan Reynolds, Satan sits in Hell using Match’s app when he sees he’s matched with a woman named 2020. When he meets up with her on Earth, he nervously says “Hi 2-0-2-0.” She replies, “Please, call me 2020” — pronouncing it like the year.
As the commercial continues, 2020’s character appears to be the epitome of everything that happened in 2020.
For example, which launched in December, shows Satan and 2020 causing mischief, stealing toilet paper from store shelves, having a picnic inn empty stadiums, and ultimately posing for a selfie in front of a dumpster fire.
The couple frolics to the familiar sounds of Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Love Story.” which also sparks a sense of rom-com nostalgia for millennials.
On the same day of this ad’s release, Match and Reynolds also shared another commercial showing the pair explaining how they met in couple’s counseling.
In this video, Satan explains how he found 2020 on Match:
“I started by using the Match custom search filter. I filtered out joy, happiness, toilet paper, and reason,” Satan says in the video below:
Although this didn’t launch in February, it was a very clever newsjacking example that many of our marketers say they enjoyed when they were asked to share their favorite Valentine’s campaigns.
While 2020 was a difficult year for many, Match and Reynolds identified a tasteful way to create content that audiences could relate to. At the same time, they still told an epic, hilarious love story with a pleasant, entertaining tone. Although they discussed a truly terrible year, they did so in a way that felt like escapism for the viewer.
Valentine’s Day Campaign Takeaways
As you create and launch Valentine’s Day campaigns, take note of these strategies many of the brands above used:
Grab your audience’s attention: Like with any holiday, marketers around the globe are churning out content around it. To compete with this overly saturated Valentine’s Day ad landscape, you’ll need to grab and keep your viewer’s attention with entertaining elements or valuable information.
Be relatable: Around this time of year, many people are inundated with high-budget Valentine’s Day ads that offer them no useful information or value. Even if you want to tell a mushy romance-fueled love story with your content, make sure it still feels relatable or authentic. To do this, you can leverage tactics like telling a story your audience will relate to, or leveraging user-generated content from your followers — like Twitter has.
Test out different platforms: While some companies on this list took to Instagram, others embraced physical campaign strategies like special products or billboard use.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in Feb. 2013, but was updated for comprehensiveness.