Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is a major holiday for consumer spending. A study published by the National Retail Federation in late January forecasted that total spending would reach $18.9 billion this year. That means the average person would spend $142 on various gifts this year ($190 for men compared to $96 for women). Even pets would feel the love with $703 million in consumer spending. These numbers are a marketer’s dream.
Out of $18.9 billion in spending this Valentine’s season, $2.1 billion was expected to be spent on flowers alone. One floral business, FTD, ran several ads around the tagline “FTD says it best.” The campaign featured couples talking about awkward Valentine’s Day gifts from a previous Valentine’s Day, and then lets viewers know that flowers from FTD would have been a better choice. The campaign was targeted at the 25% of consumers who said they would be doing their Valentine’s Day shopping online. FTD spends tens of millions dollars a year on marketing campaigns to push their brand and FTD Member Florist shops. Nevertheless, the floral business is tough—many barely break even or even lose money on Valentine’s Day because they have to divide their profits with online middlemen known as order gatherers.
In another Valentine’s campaign, Ford set up several men on what they thought were blind dates, but their “date” was actually a hired stunt driver with a 2015 Ford Mustang. Hidden cameras in the car captured the woman as she fumbled with the stick shift and pretended to be a poor driver, before pushing the car to full throttle until the men were let in on the secret (“Ford Mustang Speed Dating”). The spot was uploaded to YouTube in early February, before Valentine’s Day, and garnered millions of views.
Another interesting Valentine’s campaign was a joint venture between Starbucks and Match.com. Starbucks featured a specially selected menu with coffee and treat pairings, and also added a “Meet at Starbucks” feature within the Match.com app. More than 3 million Match.com members list “coffee and conversation” as an interest in their profiles, and the Starbucks feature allows them to flirt and set up a first date over coffee and conversation. This is not the first co-branded campaign for Starbucks; last year, it also added an Uber button to its own app to make it easier for users to order a ride to a Starbucks location.
While we’re on the topic of Uber, the car service had some remarkable Valentine’s Day specials over the last few years. In 2013, for example, the company allowed users in select cities to order roses within the app to be delivered to that special someone. This year, the company gave customers in India the ability to order a helicopter ride followed by a poolside meal.
Valentine’s Day is about being fun and romantic, and that makes it a great opportunity for brands to shine and be creative. FTD chose a more traditional approach that fit in with their floral business, which is more closely tied into the holiday. The co-branded tactic that Starbucks took with Match.com opened the campaign up to a wider audience, and tied the holiday back to a deeper brand experience not just limited to Valentine’s Day. Ford took a viral video approach. However, all three were excellent examples of brands using the holiday to stay connected with consumers and engage them at an economically opportune moment.