Death to Valentine’s Day: Why you should show your single customers some love

Lauren Palmer

Each year, as we’re packing away our baubles and preparing to return to the daily grind, a barrage of chocolates, flowers and jewellery are being marched out by retailers everywhere.

This assault can be a painful reminder for the single (I know what you’re thinking and that’s none of your business!) but even the most loved-up amongst us can find it hard to stomach the saccharine sentiments that fill up the shops as well as our email inboxes. Don’t get lost in the cloying cacophony - cut through the noise with a witty, subversive anti-Valentine’s campaign.

Why? Well, Valentine’s Day puts a shadow on a crucial demographic. Just look at the 2017 report from the American Census Bureau, which saw more than 110 million unmarried residents - that’s more than 45% of all Americans aged 18 or older! 

The way in which we meet people and form connections is also evolving. Tinder currently ranks number one on the iOS download charts for Lifestyle and 78th overall. With 800 million swipes and 10 million matches happening each day, there is a massive audience who are still looking for love (or lust) that are being neglected by the traditional Valentine’s Day campaign.

Luxury British lingerie brand, Coco de Mer, nailed speaking to this overlooked audience in 2017 with a film starring Pamela Anderson, its new Global Brand Ambassador. While initially Coco de Mer buys into the stereotypical; the trench coat with nothing on underneath, the rose petals on the bed and of course, the seductive lingerie, this was soon turned on its head. Rather than opening the door to someone tall, dark and handsome, Anderson locks it and opts for a night in, having fun… alone. This playful twist paired with the tag ‘No one knows you better than you. Take your own breath away this Valentine’s Day.’ empowers women to take back Valentine’s Day. 

KitKat is another brand that could write the playbook on turning stale clichés into killer campaigns. Last year, its marketing team created two award-winning radio ads that used their iconic ‘have a break’ slogan to tap into people’s frustration with Valentine’s Day. The narrator, whose vapid, nasal drawl makes this campaign, suggests unconventional ways to celebrate the day:

Have a dozen over-priced red roses – in a giant blender. 

Have a heart-shaped box of chocolates – run over by a monster truck […] 

Have a break from Valentine’s.  

Have a Kit Kat.

With these subversive campaigns, humour is key. A light-hearted initiative not only shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but you appear more personable and you can bet it will be memorable. 

But how about combining this with a little Corporate Social Responsibility?

Ad agency McKinney helped turn animosity into generosity with its playful #ShredYourEx campaign. You simply had to share a photo of your ex with the hashtag, to watch it shred live into a digital fire. Where’s the good in that, you ask? The physical paper shreds were sent to a local animal shelter to line the cages of puppies and kittens, so McKinney appear socially responsible and any customers can rest easy in the knowledge that their wrath is keeping puppies warm.

Anti Valentine 2

But how is it done and how do you tread the line between disruptive and disastrous?

Now disruptive marketing isn’t just about airing your frustration at a silly commercialised annual holiday – although I fully endorse this!

If you’re looking to disrupt, you should have one of two goals:

  1. To answer the demand of an emerging market with a new offering (think Apple revolutionising the way we consume music with iTunes).
  2. To re-shape your existing product to increase your customer satisfaction (thank you, Bodyform, for finally using a red gel! Seriously, how did this take so long?)

If you’re not sure on your goals, you need to take a closer look at your industry and your audience. Think of it this way; how can you create a disruptive campaign without knowing what you want to disrupt? You can’t!

What does that mean? Data mining, and a huge amount of data mining at that. You want to understand the current and emerging patterns of your market, as well as why a customer purchased a particular product or service. Knowledge is power!

Gain this insight by employing qualitative research methods; physical observation, interviews, and surveys. All this data mining is used to unearth the parameters of your market, to profile it, determine its mood, then speak to it in a fresh and engaging way.

Done well, a disruptive marketing campaign can disrupt a whole industry, not just the way your brand is seen. So be bold, be relevant, be humorous and do the unexpected.

Most people call this disruptive marketing. We call it the new natural order. If you’re not sure how to stand out from the crowd and create a campaign that resonates with your customers, we’re here to help. Contact us today at [email protected] or reach us on 01373 469270. 

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