“What’s love got to do, got to do with it?” Well, when it comes to Valentine’s Day marketing, everything! In our latest blog, our experts explore how brands drive sales around Valentine’s Day.
Last updated January 2023
Love is well and truly in the air when it comes to Valentine’s Day.
Following the slump of the ‘January blues’, February 14th is a celebration of all things love, with shoppers going out of their way to make sure their partners, pals and even themselves are treated to something special.
Despite a dip in spending over the last few years due to the pandemic and lockdowns, Statista tells us that Valentine's Day spending increased 15% in 2022 from the previous year, taking the UK total value of this love-fest holiday to a staggering £990M.
When looking at the average Valentine’s Day spending by age group, Finder found that Generation Z has overtaken millennials as the UK’s highest-spending age group on Valentine’s Day, forking out a whopping £41 on average for their loved ones. The next highest spenders were millennials (£32), followed by generation X (£19) and baby boomers (£11).
The traditionally romantic holiday is no longer exclusive to couples, having expanded in recent years to include Pal-entine’s and Gal-entine’s Day celebrations - meaning you can treat your nearest and dearest too!
We’ve also seen a rise in self-love gifts, with 25% of Brits treating themselves on Valentine’s Day. Brits are spending an average of £12.50 on themselves, which could total £155 million across the UK and so it’s important to consider singletons in your marketing campaigns, as well as couples, friends and even pet owners!
Our team of experts have come together to take a look at some of the best Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns from over the years.
Moonpig.com with NHS Blood and Transplant - cards with hearts
Back in 2018, online card retailer Moonpig.com partnered with NHS Blood and Transplant offering customers the chance to upgrade their typical Valentine’s Day cards to include a free organ donor card, encouraging recipients to sign up to the organ donor register.
At the time, there was a national debate over whether sign up should be automatic, with an option to opt out as opposed to needing to opt in. This campaign was designed to break the ice when it came to what many viewed as an uncomfortable topic, igniting a conversation around talking about your donation wishes with your loved ones.
The campaign aimed to spark 6,400 conversations – one for every person in the UK currently waiting for an organ transplant. Media monitoring tool, Gorkana, reported that with over 300 pieces of PR coverage, and over 530,000 views of the video on Moonpig’s Facebook page, the campaign certainly delivered.
Engagement was also up across the board on Moonpig’s social media, most notably on Instagram which saw an increase of 11.5% in February compared to their average of 2.28%.
This campaign certainly captured our hearts here at Extreme!
KFC: You’re a snack
The famous chicken brand is known around the world for their witty, innovative marketing campaigns, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. In the 2021 run up to the big day, they launched a range of chicken-themed products including a chicken-piece pizza with Pizza Hut, scratch and sniff cards with Moonpig.com, and even KFC style crocs for you to gift to your loved ones (or yourself, because #selflove).
While one alone would have been enough to drive engagement and make headlines, the multi-faceted approach meant that their brand was at the forefront of branded Valentine’s Day conversation in the run up to the celebration, with Google searches for “KFC Menu” during that time period increasing by over 4000%.
As marketeers, we couldn’t talk about KFC without also talking about their project with Bank of Creativity, and their one minute brief campaign back in 2019. The BOC challenges their creative community on Twitter to respond with ideas to daily advertising briefs in partnership with brands, rewarding the best entries and encouraging creativity within the industry. Together with KFC, they ran a competition for followers to create posters or cards capturing their ‘love of chicken’.
The results speak for themselves. With over 207 entries that were retweeted to 18,700 each time, they had the potential to reach over 3.87 million people, and that’s without counting the retweets from their followers and beyond. You can keep up to date with their latest briefs on their Twitter page, we absolutely love seeing what people come up with, almost as much as we love a boneless banquet!
The Man Company: All Kinds Of Love
This Indian male grooming company turned their focus to self love and body positivity in their 2020 Valentine’s Day campaign, which used social media and email marketing as well as SMS and push notifications to connect with consumers.
The ad shows men looking past their insecurities, instead embracing them, highlighting the importance of self-acceptance with the overall message that everyone is deserving of love. Typically, the body positivity movement is associated with females, and so the Director of Brand Marketing told Social Samosa they wanted to portray the role insecurities play in the male grooming industry. From scars and weight insecurities, to receding hairlines, the advert seeks to normalise the male experience their consumers often face, and in doing so, celebrate them.
Results wise, the campaign achieved over 500K views on YouTube and over one million impressions on Instagram. The campaign also improved the overall sales revenue and average order value on the website, with the latter increasing by almost 45% during the same period.
We loved seeing a more vulnerable, less polished take on the male grooming industry, and admire the level of authenticity the ad has. We’re always on board with brands who celebrate #AllKindsOfLove.
Deliveroo: Third Wheel Kevin
The popular food delivery service used insight-led data to drive their 2017 campaign, having found that 54% of Brits would be happy to ‘third wheel’ a couple on Valentine’s Day, while 37% of couples said they'd be happy to have a third person at the dinner table.
From this, #ThirdWheelKevin was born. Deliveroo customers were able to purchase a ‘Third Wheel’ meal deal on and around the big day, meaning singletons weren’t left to dine alone.
Amassing almost 220,000 views across YouTube, Facebook and twitter, as well as being picked up by regional national, trade and international press, the campaign proved popular with singles and couples alike.
Whoever said three’s a crowd was clearly just in need of a Deliveroo!
M&S: The Love Sausage
Marks and Spencer caused quite the stir back in 2019 with the launch of their now famous ‘Love Sausage’ as a part of their Valentine’s Day dine in range.
This bacon-wrapped sausage with a hint of truffle became a viral sensation the moment it first hit the shelves, selling out all 15,000 in stock almost immediately. On Twitter, the meaty treat received 1,412 retweets, 4,569 quote tweets and 5,168 likes, and has trended each year since. Across other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, engagement continues to remain high on all ‘Love Sausage’ posts, with the comment sections often filled with innuendos and appreciation for the now well-loved dish.
By 2022 Marks and Spencer’s ‘love sausage’ had secured 111 press mentions across national, regional and trade press online, and that’s not including print press which undoubtedly takes the number up much higher! It’s also made headlines beyond our shores, in France, Germany and Austria.
While this tongue-in-cheek humour is different to what we’re used to seeing from the high street giant, it’s launch proved popular with customers both online and instore, with their email newsletter open rates up 10% in the week approaching Valentine’s Day. This shift in messaging is a part of Marks and Spencer’s wider effort to become less exclusive and more relevant to consumers, more often.
Air New Zealand: Going the distance
The kiwi airline pushed the importance of connection on Valentine’s Day back in 2017, showing that love knows no bounds, even when there are miles between you.
Striking a chord with people around the world, the Facebook campaign shows people reuniting and the joy it brings - from a grandmother seeing her grandchildren arrive at the house, to a baby meeting their dad for the first time - couples, friends and family all reconnect, smiling and passing around hugs. Air New Zealand did a brilliant job at highlighting the important role they play in customers’ lives, calling it a privilege to be able to bring so many people together, everyday.
This heartwarming campaign proved a great success, receiving over 244,000 views on Facebook, while almost 300 people commented on who they hoped to see or were missing that Valentine’s Day. Authenticity resonates with consumers, and is a great way to use storytelling in your marketing.
One of the more moving ones in our roundup, especially after the pandemic kept so many apart for so long, this probably resonates more now with team Extreme than ever before.
Coppafeel: You’re the breast
Breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! exists to educate and remind every young person in the UK that checking their boobs is super important, and could save their life one day.
For Valentine’s Day 2021, they partnered with online retailer Scribbler cards alongside makeup giant Avon, and lingerie brand SimplyBe, to design and produce an eye-catching range of cards and candles to promote their message. These could be sent to partners or pals, tapping into the rapidly growing Gal-entine’s market.
Using social media to promote the cards across the three companies led to almost £10,000 being raised to help support CoppaFeel! on their mission to educate young people on how to check themselves and have the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer.
We love to see it!
Match.com: Match made in hell
Although not technically made for Valentine’s Day, this ad kept coming up as a favourite amongst team Extreme as it’s all about navigating love in the modern world.
Directed by Ryan Reynolds and his quick-witted marketing agency, Maximum Effort – the masterminds behind various viral campaigns for his other companies, Aviation Gin and Mint Mobile – this ad sees Satan using Match.com’s app to find love.
He matches with a woman called 2020, who epitomises all the terrible things that the year brought with it, and their romance plays out to the soundtrack of the re-released ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift, which trended on twitter as a result. From stealing toilet paper, to dates in empty cinemas, the ad made audiences around the world laugh at a time where most of us were feeling the weight of lockdown.
The campaign heavily focused on organic social media and digital PR, with word of mouth and trending conversation the driving force. Paid media was then used to amplify the messaging across channels where conversation could continue such as Instagram and Youtube, as well as TV and streaming platforms.
When commenting on the campaign for The Shorty Awards, the team reported they’d outperformed all KPIs, having created a historic brand moment. On day one alone they reached 14 million views, with the video campaign trending on YouTube for the first two days. To date, the film has received more than 40 million views!
By receiving more than 100 press stories in the first 24 hours, the team quadrupled their targets, and in total they earned over 800 media stories. To date, the campaign has earned a staggering 5 billion media impressions between entertainment, lifestyle, business, and technology publications, as well as local and national broadcast outlets.
Hats off to Ryan and his team, they certainly know how to capture the hearts and minds of audiences, including us here at Extreme.
A Made by Extreme example
In 2021 we worked on the launch of a Valentine’s Day bundle with face mask specialists, The Body Doctor. The press release secured seven pieces of press coverage, with a combined readership of over 300K. The publications also shared the pieces across their social media channels, further extending the reach to another 235,000 people.
If you need help with your PR strategy around the launch of a new product or service, get in touch. Our PR and content team, along with our PPC and social media specialists, are on hand to position your brand in front of consumers, wherever they may be.
What to expect in 2023 and beyond…
It is likely that our passion for celebrating Valentine's Day will continue, however turbulent economic times mean our spending may wane - but that remains to be seen! We know for sure though that marketers and brands everywhere are working hard right now on claiming some of that all important social media space, trying to get us to 'stop the scroll' and devise campaigns that will make us laugh, cry and buy!
If you need any help with any of your 2023 campaigns, our team of experts are ready to make your brand stand out and drive sales.
Need help creating campaigns your customers will love?
Extreme's resident Instagram queen, Beth lives and breathes all things social media! After graduating with a degree in Advertising, she explored all aspects of the digital world before firmly finding her feet in the land of social. Day to day, you can find her brainstorming for campaigns, drafting up witty content and strategising to help clients soar on social.
Laura joined Team Extreme in 2017 and through the years has refined her social media skills to become our Paid Social Strategist. She works with our social clients to plan and execute content across a broad range of sectors and channels, helping clients maximise their results and ROI.
Amy joined in 2014 to set up our Content department. She now heads up a growing Brand and Content team, utilising over 13 years’ experience to deliver brand awareness through targeted, multi-channel copy. As well as engaging content for websites and blogs, Amy delivers PR strategies and tone of voice exploration, helping clients to communicate the purpose and values of their brand with maximum impact.