A love affair – Taking the cheese out of Valentine’s Day ads


Valentine’s Day – the great international celebration of love. You know Cupid’s done his job when you can’t go a second without bumping into couples holding hands or sneaking kisses when they think no one’s looking.

Some love it, some hate it and some even want to ban it, but that doesn’t stop Valentine’s Day from being the sweetheart of the advertising industry. According to a recent survey by the NRF, Valentine’s Day is a 20 billion dollar industry in the US alone. So one can imagine the intensity of advertisers’ efforts for this day.

While all marketers are clamouring for attention on this celebration, unfortunately, it’s very easy for Valentine’s Day advertising to come off as too ham or overly saccharine – and by that we mean the excessive (borderline obsessive) use of heart motifs, pink colour, etc.

vday A love affair - Taking the cheese out of Valentine's Day ads

^An example of a fairly conventional Valentine’s Day advertising.

Truth is, the typical Valentine’s promotion just doesn’t work as effectively anymore, with millennials especially calling for less boring and clichéd advertising.

One of the conundrums surrounding Valentine’s Day ads is that not everyone is in love. And as many great love stories as there have been throughout time, it’s safe to say that the history of the world has seen a whole lot more broken hearts – which means that there is probably a sizable group of people who will reject your ad, if all you do is serve up the same old romance.

So, where does that leave us? How do brands ride on a popular celebration of love, without being, well, so lovey-dovey about it?

Our suggestion? Satire.

It is particularly a great tool when it comes to advertising what most would call a Hallmark holiday. Satire uses humor, wit, irony and ridicule to make fun of things without being too over the top about it.

For reference, here’s an example of a great satirical Valentine’s Day ad.

^ Dairy Queen’s commercial pokes fun at conventional Valentine’s Day ads.

The rise of the Anti-Valentine’s Day ads has been supported by many well-known brands and Dairy Queen is just one of them.

Dairy Queen’s ad starts off like a wonderfully OR horribly typical Valentine’s Day ad – so romantic to the point where it’s humorously unrealistic. Using satire, the ad becomes a parody of itself and all traditional V-Day ads, to great comedic effect.

Ads like the one above take the mickey out of V-Day, which many find not only entertaining but really refreshing. For a brand, this type of Anti-Valentine’s Day ad can help you stand out from the crowd, considering especially how overly saturated platforms are with cheesy, traditional ads.

deadpool-vday A love affair - Taking the cheese out of Valentine's Day ads

^Valentine’s marketing for the anything-but-romantic superhero movie, Deadpool.

While satire may not work for all brands, this type of satirical content can really win millennials over and get them to start liking your brand. Showcasing your brand’s sense of humor and its acknowledgement of how agonizingly sweet Valentine’s Day can be is bound to score you at least some Buzzfeed points.

Just like any other festive ad, the best way to create a winning Valentine’s Day ad, which doesn’t look like all the other ads out there, is to look at things from a different angle. That means no more cliché headlines, no more pseudo-fancy script and, hopefully, no more unnecessary heart motifs.

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