Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Is love in the air? Or is that just the familiar tone of a cash register?

Shop anywhere during the first 45 days of the year, and you’ll be assaulted by displays of Valentine’s merchandise and offers. Department stores, supermarkets, drug stores, gas stations, even liquor stores are ready to sell you something for your sweetheart. Go online and you’ll see Valentine’s promotions tucked into every nook and cranny of your social media feeds, subscription emails, and favorite shopping sites.

No matter where you go, the call-to-action is the same: you can show your person(s) you love them by spending some money.

A Shout Out To Supermarket Merchandisers

The geniuses in charge of supermarket merchandising know what they are doing. As soon as January hits, shoppers enter the store to a burst of red and pink flowers and balloons heralding the start of the Season of Love. Look to your left and you’ll see heart-shaped cookie cutters; look right and grab the sprinkles to match. Cruise through the produce lanes and right next to your old faithful strawberries, you’ll find tubs of chocolate dipping sauce or chocolate hummus (yes, this is a thing – while it’s texturally distant from real chocolate, it tastes pretty good with berries).

What may seem a bit home grown is actually highly scientific and based on an insane amount of data. So pat yourselves on the back, marketers in the retail grocery industry.

Yes, you can give someone a laptop for Valentine’s Day

We all expect to see ads from giants like Hallmark and Bouqs. But there’s plenty of room for everyone in Valentine marketing.

Take it from European Airline Ryanair, whose ad invites singles to “Escape the Nonsense” of Valentine’s Day and take advantage of a single ticket offer.

Check out Lenovo’s laptop love story…boy meets girl, boy’s cat jumps on boy’s laptop, laptop accidentally projects girl’s picture onto a screen, boy and girl fall in love. Even if you don’t love the romance angle, you can appreciate the cool factor of a laptop with its own projector.

Dunkin Donuts Philippines leveraged the sugary holiday to highlight the power of love in this YouTube commercial. A once-happy couple breaks up dramatically, agrees to share custody of their French bulldog and meet at, you guessed it, a Dunkin Donuts, for the weekly pup exchange. I don’t have to tell you how it ends. The final caption in Tagalog says “kapag tunay ang pag ibig lagi itong bablik”. Translated to English that means “when love is real, it always comes back”. But what I think Dunkin’ wants us to hear is “when love is real, it always comes back…to Dunkin’ Donuts”.

Probably one of our favorite ad campaigns is from eHarmony whose presence in Valentine’s Day marketing is surprising to no one. But instead of a lonely hearts-style message or even something aspirational, they just went for cute in their “How Kids See Valentine’s Day” video. Fingers crossed we’re invited to Samanda’s wedding.

Valentine’s Day, you are meaninglessly meaningful.

The origin of Valentine’s Day really has a weak connection to today’s version, which Wikipedia describes as a “cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world”. Do the marketers of yesterday deserve credit for turning this day into something significant? Maybe.

There’s an expression: “bad pizza is still pizza”. I would probably argue the same for Valentine’s Day marketing. Does it matter that you have award-winning campaigns? Or do consumers just need to see that blast of pink and red and add “Valentine’s stuff” to their list? You be the judge.

It doesn’t matter to us. Every January, when we see those pink and red teddy bears staring at us, we’ll definitely remember to throw some Conversation Hearts and a heartfelt message (written by whichever company made the card) into the basket alongside our Super Bowl snacks.

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