Brands Not Showing Enough Love for Valentine’s Day

For brands, Valentine’s Day can bring a lot more than roses, chocolate, and bear hugs. But as the holiday of love approaches, only a few brands have capitalized on its potential for digital marketing.

Among those that have is Starbucks, which has spent big on Valentine’s Day this year. The coffee chain teamed up with dating site in an attempt to host the world’s largest coffee date at select locations in the U.S. and Canada on February 13. Participants will be able to share snapshots from their dates on social media, with the hashtag #StarbucksDate.

Meanwhile, Snuggle is taking a leap into the holiday of love as well. From National Hug Day on January 21 through Valentine’s Day, the Snuggle brand is executing a digital strategy across different social channels .

“Snuggle’s mission for [more than] 30 years has been to make the world a softer place and there’s no better holiday that aligns to that mission than Valentine’s Day,” says Kristine Campbell, senior product manager at Sun Product’s Snuggle.

The campaign includes personalized Snuggle Valentine Video Cards, where consumers can choose from more than 400 names spoken by Snuggle Bear (if a name is not available, the bear will say “Valentine”) and five different video messages to send to friends and loved ones. Participants can further share those customized video cards via email or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with the hashtag #shareasnug.

“Strategically, the Snuggle brand has been on a mission in recent years to contemporize the brand and social media has been one of the key tools used to accomplish this,” explains Campbell. “By using contemporary digital and social marketing channels, tools, and utilities such as gaming and personalized cards to engage our fans, we have built credibility across social platforms, and in turn, increased our engagement.”

According to the company, as of the February 6, more than 10,000 video cards had been created, and the number continues to increase.

In addition to Starbucks and Snuggle, card and gift brand Hallmark has also designed a digital campaign for Valentine’s Day, in which the company built a microsite and leveraged YouTube to send messages of love. The brand created seven love-themed videos, which consumers can share via social with the hashtag #PutYourHeartToPaper.

But compared to Starbucks, Snuggle, and Hallmark, other retail brands such as Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s are paying less attention to Valentine’s Day. For example, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have optimized Web pages for Valentine’s Day sales, while Urban Outfitters is offering sales codes and discounts for Valentine’s Day, but they are not running any digital campaigns specifically for the holiday.

Even the jewelry category doesn’t seem to be heavily capitalizing on Valentine’s Day this year, as the top 20 jewelry keywords in paid search are not Valentine-related, according to Adgooroo’s latest survey.

Katie Townsley, vice president of insights and engagement at agency MXM, admits that although all of MXM’s clients acknowledge Valentine’s Day, most don’t have campaigns specifically designed around the holiday.

The reason, she says, could be that Valentine’s Day is not considered as a valid marketing opportunity by every industry.

“You need to have a strong integration in brand identity with love, giving, traditional couples gifts, [and] possibly family (like Snuggies) for it to truly work. Brands like Hallmark, or Godiva, or Zales, or 1-800-Flowers have natural and conversational alignments, but lots of single [or] younger digital natives might be too cynical about the holiday for it to be worth the spend on a program,” she explains. “I think that other holidays are more successful for top brands.”

Townsley adds that another reason can be ascribed to the fact that Valentine’s Day falls between the Super Bowl and March Madness. “It might be awkward timing for some brands,” she says. “From a consumer online conversation and content sharing perspective, [those sporting events] have historically greater volume and engagement.”

So while there are many brands that don’t ignore Valentine’s Day, Townsley notes that “it’s not a holiday for major focus or spend.”

Image via Shutterstock.

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