Every year, when we’re just getting over the Holiday Season Fever, we come down with another marketing illness: the Valentine’s Day Flu. From January 1 to February 14, our airwaves, mailboxes and social networks are jammed with jewelry ads, chocolate ads, dining deals and eblasts from every company that could find even the most tenuous connection to V-Day. (I’m looking at you, email asking me to spread the love of dental care.)
Even if you’re happily in love, it’s enough to make you nauseated. If you’re single, you might have more acute symptoms, like wanting to wail on Cupid with a baseball bat.
The best treatment for the Valentine’s Day Flu would be for advertisers to cut down on the number of sappy ads…say, by 99%. But barring that, let’s try to find some relief by discussing the folks who are doing something different with their V-Day campaigns. Yes, they still want us to spend money on a Hallmark holiday, but at least they’re being kind enough to get our attention in a different way.
Looking for love this Valentine’s Day? Air New Zealand is like, don’t bother signing up for that online dating site. Don’t let your friends set you up. We got this. Just show up at our gate with a passport and a packed suitcase, and we’ll send you on a trip to Los Angeles with a person who shares your interests in over-the-top contests and free travel.
I like that Air New Zealand is using this contest to let people know that they fly from London to LA, as well as to promote their sky couches—aka “cuddle class.” Says Damon Collins, principal at Air New Zealand’s agency Joint London, “People don’t think of Air New Zealand as flying to LA, so this is a way to get noticed and create a buzz.”
I do not, personally, like the idea of this blind date of epic proportions. I intensely dislike first dates, let alone blind dates, and the idea of being trapped in a sealed flying chamber with your date—and then being expected to spend the WHOLE WEEKEND with them, while being filmed, makes me need to do some deep yoga breathing.
If you’re a more adventurous sort than I (and you’re a resident of the UK), you can sign up for the contest here.
Boyz II Men = Babies
If you’re already attached, Russia would like you to celebrate this Valentine’s Day by conceiving a child. Well, I guess they’d like you to be Russian, too, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? President Vladimir Putin has a long-standing crusade to raise Russia’s birth rate, and as part of that effort, Boyz II Men performed a concert in Russia last week. Said The Moscow Times, “The group will perform a selection of their classic and new romantic ballads, hopefully giving Russian men some inspiration ahead of St. Valentine’s Day.”
Russia isn’t the only one encouraging people to reproduce. Riding the train to work, I’ve been encouraged by WBEZ’s “2032 Membership Drive” to make some babies on behalf of the radio station. One ad I spotted said, “We want listeners tomorrow. Go make babies today.” So I guess if you don’t want to have kids for Russia’s sake, do it for public radio.
I Heart Your Heart
MegaRed is using the heart-crazy holiday to promote its heart-healthy supplements, in an altruistic way. (Hat tip to the NYT for the scoop on this campaign.) Go to MegaRed’s Facebook page and use a custom app to request samples for the ones you love. (And because you have a big heart, you’ll get a free sample, too.) The campaign also includes a social media push, with tweets from celebrities, a short video explaining the campaign and a planned donation to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease.
This campaign strikes a balance that’s not always easy: doing good while still promoting your product.
Pizza Hut Proposal
This campaign is from last year, but it is so ridiculous that I wanted to discuss it anyway. I appreciate this brand stepping outside the glittery, kissy face Valentine’s Day box, but this example makes the point that not every holiday is a fit for your brand.
Pizza Hut offered a special proposal package—priced at $10,010—that got you a limo ride, flowers, fireworks, a photographer/videographer and a ruby ring. Oh yeah, and a box with a greasy pizza, 5 breadsticks and 10 cinnamon sticks.
Pizza Hut has a true gift—for coming up with promotions so bizarre I feel obligated to spend 15 minutes Googling them to make sure they aren’t a joke. (See their election campaign that I thought insulted democracy.) Beyond the fact that I refuse to accept that any of my fellow ladies were interested in a ring being slid on their finger with the aid of pizza grease…doesn’t the price of this package seem exorbitant? At first I thought the package was for a Pizza Hut wedding…but this is just for the proposal! There’s not even a diamond involved. NOW Pizza Hut has forced me to Google the prices of ruby rings. I feel like I have put more effort into this than the team that came up with the Pizza Hut Proposal idea.
What Valentine’s Day ads and promos make you want to have brain surgery to remove your capability to love? Share ‘em in the comments.
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