Will you be my Valentine's Campaign?
February 14th, the date which shifts companies all over the world into a mushy mood: Let's please customers, but not all PR campaigns have the power to stand out from the crowd. Some are expected, some are fading in and are forgotten tomorrow or even worse: they are like a bouquet of flowers from the gas station – disappointing. I did some research which campaigns are really melting one's heart – to find one is hard.
Poundland’s Nothing Box
Let’s start with the disappointing bit. What is more disappointing than your partner forgetting Valentine's Day? Maybe an empty box?
You know, how women tend to say: they want nothing for the special day? Poundland directly stepped into that trap. The “Gift of Nothing” was meant to be funny.
The move had a big backlash on twitter, after a marine charity protecting the UK’s oceans and beaches, tweeted a picture of the product (see below). The waste of plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decay, for literally “nothing”, had a very bitter taste for the customers, which they were very outspoken about on Twitter.
Second attempt: Poundland’s £1 Ring
Couples often pick dates that are easy to remember for their wedding and some are picking Valentine’s Day to propose. So Poundland sold rings in different designs for only £1.
This attempt, however, brought the discount retailer better media coverage than the “Gift of Nothing”. Poundland carefully told The Independent “that the rings provide customers with the means of proposing ‘before they need to invest in the real rock’”.
Finally, they have seemed to learn their lesson!
Love goes through the stomach – they say. So food is usually a good idea to raise the British’s heart beat. Marks & Spencer’s “Love Sausage”, wrapped with bacon, available for £5, received positive coverage in the British media:
“…our favourite fancy high street food hall has brought out a hilarious treat for this year's romantic celebration and you can't help but want to eat one.” (Wales Online)
But not only positive coverage:
“As can be expected, the Internet has reacted to the supermarket’s reveal with a great deal of incredulity, with many pointing out the evident sexual connotations of the meaty product.” (The Independent)
That pun was obvious, maybe intended, because bad news keep people talking.
However, Marks & Spencer could have taken Dentsu-Aegis CEO Andreas Weiss' advise. He told Horizont.at: “Cramping attempts to make completely unsuitable products attractive with the Valentine's Mesh are embarrassing. That's entertaining, but not very effective."
Spread a positive message – Campaigns outside the UK
The Slovak Red Cross used February 14th to call the public for blood donations. The charity writes on its website: “Love has many forms - love of partners, parents and children, love of siblings, love for oneself, for loved ones, but also for unknown people.”
The World Council of Churches in Austria mobilises against rape and violence on “Thursday in black”. The campaign has a long history from the “Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women” (1988-1998). (kathpress.at)
“Centre Talma” – a Girls and Boys Sports Centre and Event Centre – supports the annual worldwide movement “One Billion Rising”, which launched in September 2012 by New York feminist Eve Ensler. Since then, one billion people have been called to protest against violence against girls and women. Centre Talma engages the public with the Berliner Dance Demo at the Brandenburger Tor since 2013 and got great media coverage in 2019.
Back to the UK…
Aunt Bessie's heart-shaped Yorkshire Puddings
Finally a British campaign that is heart-melting: Aunt Bessie’s seems to get everything right with their Valentine’s special limited edition of heart-shaped Yorkshire Puddings. At a price of £1.50 for a pack of 6 it also sounds like a much cheaper deal than the “Love Sausage” for £5.
The company from the North of the UK produces over 639,000,000 Yorkshire Puddings every year and got some great media coverage for their effort to do it right:
The Chronicle Live writes: “Forget romance - heart-shaped Yorkshire Puddings on our Sunday dinner for the next few weeks sounds an absolute dream!”
The Metro adds: “While Yorkies aren’t considered the sexiest of foods, they do say that the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and their crispy, battery goodness certainly fills that.”
The Valentine's Day campaigns 2019 show that companies need to be careful with the message they put out there. Sometimes the simple ideas like a lovely pastry are the best ways to make customers happy, but most certainly not an empty plastic box.