Valentine's Day: brands feel the love

As the annual love fest that is Valentine's Day (or Single People Awareness Day) kicks in this morning, we thought we’d take a look at how marketers are angling to leverage a chunk of the £880M we’ll spend in the UK (and a whopping $17B in the US) this February 14th.

Lamenting the fact you are single on Valentine’s Day? Well, at least you are doing your bit to beat the recession. A recent study calculated that British singles are contributing £3.4B annually to the UK economy in their pursuit of love. That’s around £1.3B spent on entertainment, bars and restaurants, near on £1B on clothing, £420M on travel and £324M on haircuts, among a variety of other products and services. In short, those looking for love are big spenders.

Naturally, brands are only too keen to harness the sentiment around Valentine's Day to build awareness and drive sales, here’s how some of them chose to spread the love this year…

Kirin beer – say it with flowers

Possibly our favourite Valentine's Day promo comes courtesy of Kirin beer, who are attempting to claim back some love for men this year with the introduction of the Beer Bro-quet, a hand crafted bouquet comprised of 10 mini cans of Kirin Ichiban Beer. A simple concept, but also a clever one, as it serves to drive female awareness of the brand and instil the notion that this is a brand that is in touch with its feminine side.

Heineken – Serenade App

Heineken took elements of its online film ‘The Date’ and developed an innovative Facebook app that enabled users to create bespoke musical date invitations, performed by a live band. The 'Serenade' app, which was made available in 20 languages, offers up a humorous and highly personalised take on the standard e-card message, giving users access to a database of 640 possible song options. In addition, the Facebook activity was supplemented with an 8-hour YouTube event, ‘Serenade Live’, where songs custom written for selected Facebook and Twitter submissions, were performed live. A crucial element here was the inclusion of the sender and recipient, who - through the power of Skype - were brought directly into the experience, showcasing their reactions.

Victoria’s Secret – Kiss and Tell

This time of year is big business for lingerie brands, and Victoria’s Secret pulled together an integrated campaign to promote its product in the run up to the big day. The brand is launching its Gorgeous collection today - with a limited-edition fragrance, 'Bombshell in Love' - and has been busy promoting the launch, offering ecards via its main website and a social media promotion on its Facebook page inviting fans to share their ‘kiss and tell’ stories. The brand also made good use of its ever-popular Victoria’s Secret Angels, posting videos from models such as Adriana Lima and Candice Swanepoel talking about their first kiss.

Krispy Kreme - Twitter Love Roulette

The doughnut company decided to tap into the ever-popular social gaming phenomenon with the launch of a Twitter based gaming app aimed at singletons. The Twitter Love Roulette game, which can be accessed via the brand’s main website and Facebook, invites uses to enter their Twitter name and spin a wheel to match them with another player.  The clever part comes in the follow through from here, with conversations that are sparked from the pairing (using the hashtag #krispykremeloveroulette) automatically entered into a prize draw for the chance to win a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Starbucks – Love Augmented

Starbucks took its successful Magic Cup App holiday promotion and gave it a Valentine’s twist, enabling customers to send virtual messages. Special Starbucks cups adorned with hearts can be scanned with the iPhone and Android App, bringing the hearts to life through the power of augmented reality. The video of flying heart-shaped flower petals can then be sent to loved ones, via email or Facebook, with an accompanying message and/or Starbucks Card eGift. A cute campaign, focused directly around the brand’s core product. It also, somewhat indirectly, highlights its Eco credentials, as it manages to recycle an Xmas campaign into a Valentine’s promo.

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