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Unveiling Cupid’s Playbook: Valentine’s Day Campaigns to Gain Insights From

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

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Love is in the air, and so is the potential for businesses to strike a chord with their audience through creative and captivating campaigns. Beyond the clichés of heart-shaped candies and roses, Valentine’s Day is like a cupid-approved playground for businesses to infuse charm and boost engagement with inventive campaigns. In a world filled with endless marketing strategies, harnessing the spirit of Valentine’s Day can provide a unique and charming twist to your promotional efforts. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, consider this blog your playbook for the love-filled holiday, guiding you through the art of crafting irresistible Valentine’s Day campaigns that resonate with your audience and leave a lasting impression. 

Build-A-Bear’s Adult After Dark Collection

Build-A-Bear is turning up the heat in its Bear Cave with the launch of the After Dark Collection, a Valentine’s Day campaign targeting individuals aged 18 and above. The collection features a range of lovable creatures, outfits, and accessories designed to add a playful and romantic twist to the traditional Valentine’s fare. From a lovable lion expressing your “MANE squeeze” to devilishly cute teddy bears with messages like “Drama Queen,” Build-A-Bear offers a unique and humorous take on adult-to-adult gifting for the romantic holiday. 

The After Dark collection was only available online through the company’s age-gated Bear Cave microsite to ensure the recipients stay age-appropriate. This collection is one of many examples of brands catering to the rising trend of kidulting, where adults embrace childhood memories and seek collectibles that tap into their playful nature. 

Where plushies and passion combine! Image: Build-A-Bear

The takeaway: Diversify your audience outreach — a standout Valentine’s campaign has the power to charm beyond your usual target, creating delightful surprises for a broader demographic and amplifying overall impact.

Puma’s Vintage V-Day Kicks

Puma made a stylish entrance into the Valentine’s Day festivities last year by launching their retro sneaker collection, featuring iconic silhouettes from the 1980s. Following the trend set by Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, Puma presented two revamped versions of the Rocket and Rockette sneakers, unveiling them in a timeless black and red color scheme. 

Named the “Puma My Love V-Day” pack, the sneakers showcased a blend of modern design and ‘80s inspiration, with features like heart graphics on the heel and traditional form strip logos. The Rocket Be Mine V-Day boasted a “Black For All Time Red” palette, while the Rockette My Love V-Day dazzled in “For All Time Red / Frosted Ivory.” Both vegan-certified sneakers offered comfort with EVA foam midsoles and a vintage touch with gum rubber outsoles.

Finding your ‘solemate’ has never been more stylish. Image: Puma

The takeaway: Blend nostalgic charm with modern values to create a timeless and stylish expression of love that resonates with consumers seeking both retro flair and contemporary consciousness in their consumerist choices.

RXBAR’s Cliche-Crushing DIY Bouquet

Last year, RXBAR launched a bold Valentine’s Day campaign, challenging the clichés of the holiday with their revolutionary “RXBAR-quet.” Tackling the pitfalls of conventional gifts, the gym-focused brand introduced the ultimate token of love for fitness enthusiasts — a do-it-yourself (DIY) bouquet crafted with the power-packed goodness of their Chocolate Sea Salt Bars and the newly introduced Craft Batch Strawberry Bars. 

Steering clear of traditional Valentine’s Day elements like hearts and teddy bears, this unconventional bouquet was made to embody strength and simplicity, reflecting the brand’s “No B.S.” promise. Designed for the #gymcouple or the #gymcrush, the bouquet included fitness-centric elements such as a jump rope ribbon and a sweat towel wrap, offering a unique alternative to prioritizing power over flowers. 

Flowers wilt, but gains are forever! Image: RXBAR

The takeaway: Reject holiday clichés and find new, niche ways to get your audience to engage with the season. Embrace your brand's uniqueness and your audience's diverse interests, steering away from conventional narratives. 

Pandora’s Post-Pandemic Study of Love

In 2021, Pandora delved into the post-lockdown dynamics of love with “An Exploration of Love.” The campaign, backed by a comprehensive study surveying 11,000 respondents, illuminated the heightened significance of post-pandemic relationship challenges. Key findings highlighted a surge in quality time spent with loved ones, a return to traditional romantic gestures, and a greater appreciation for little acts of love. 

The campaign conveyed the message that, in the aftermath of the pandemic, the language of love is defined by thoughtful gestures rather than grand expressions. Accompanied by a touching film series featuring real-life love stories, Pandora encapsulated the essence of evolving connections in a world that values the profound impact of seemingly simple expressions of love.

A reminder that love is about quality time, not just quality jewelry! Image: Pandora

The takeaway: Conduct customer surveys, dive into their stories, and leverage the authenticity of user-generated content (UGC) to showcase the nuances of evolving relationships and foster a sense of community and relatability.

Disney and Fossil’s Continued Collaboration

Recently launched on January 15, the Disney and Fossil collaboration for Valentine’s Day treated fans to a special edition collection featuring watches, earrings, necklaces, purses, and more, adorned with romantic imagery of the beloved cartoon couple. The lineup, packaged in the holiday’s signature red color, includes standout pieces such as a locket necklace shaped like Minnie Mouse’s head with her signature bow and a heart-shaped crossbody bag capturing a sweet moment between Minnie and Mickey. 

This Valentine’s Day collection builds on Fossil and Disney’s successful October debut, where they unveiled an exclusive range inspired by the iconic history of Mickey Mouse. 

Mickey and Minnie watches – for a love as timeless as theirs! Image: Fossil

The takeaway: Foster ongoing partnerships and embrace the art of evolving collaborations to craft experiences that leave a lasting imprint on your audience. 

Sweethearts Candy’s Silly Situationships

The candy company’s recent campaign takes a playful twist on modern relationships with its limited-edition Situationship Boxes for Valentine’s Day. These boxes feature intentionally blurry and misprinted heart-shaped candies, reflecting the complexities of Gen-Z relationships. 

The campaign humorously embraces the term situationship, defined as a romantic relationship lacking clear boundaries or labels. Due to high demand, the boxes sold out quickly, prompting the candy company to announce a second drop before Valentine’s Day. The campaign cleverly captures the evolving dynamics of modern dating, resonating with the blurred lines of undefined and noncommittal relationships.

Capturing love’s complexities, one blurry heart at a time. Image: Sweethearts Candies

The takeaway: Harness humor to rebrand a mishap and turn imperfections into endearing features that resonate with your audiences and breathe new life into your brand’s image.

Strategies for Standout Seasonal Campaigns

With its bright colors and sentimental value, Valentine’s Day is a digital marketer’s dream opportunity for engaging with audiences seeking connections with their favorite brands; however, it is not the only occasion that offers such potential. Throughout the year, various holidays provide marketers with opportunities to create compelling and resonant campaigns, from the spooky charm of Halloween to the gratitude-filled Thanksgiving season. Seasonal marketing extends beyond traditional holidays, with events like the Super Bowl and Back-to-School season becoming opportunities to captivate consumers with creative and timely promotions. As we dive into the strategies for standout seasonal campaigns, let’s explore how you can make the most of these diverse opportunities to leave a lasting impact on your audience:

  1. Plan ahead: By anticipating upcoming seasons, holidays, or events relevant to your target audience, you afford your team the time needed for meticulous preparation and strategic execution. The planning process involves comprehensive research into the specific trends, consumer behaviors, and cultural nuances associated with the chosen season or event. Designing visually appealing content, crafting engaging copy, and coordinating across various channels become more seamless when there’s ample time for iteration and refinement. Additionally, early planning facilitates collaboration with partners, influencers, or collaborators, ensuring that your campaign aligns with external schedules and maximizes cross-promotional opportunities.

  2. Incorporate visual appeal: Picture this — vibrant and eye-catching graphics, engaging videos, and imagery capturing the very essence of the season or event. The goal is to create a visual feast that stops the scroll and ingrains your brand in the minds of your audience. Whether it’s festive colors, thematic illustrations, or playful animations, the visual elements should resonate with the emotions and aesthetics of the specific time of year. Incorporating visual appeal is about storytelling through images. Craft visuals that narrate a compelling story, connecting with your audience on a visceral level.

  3. Create urgency: Remember, seasonal marketing campaigns are just that — seasonal! So, it’s important to implement a sense of urgency into your campaigns. The trick is to infuse your messaging with compelling reasons for customers to act swiftly. Utilize limited-time offers, exclusive discounts, or seasonal promotions that expire, signaling to your audience that the clock is ticking. Craft persuasive copy that communicates the value of your offerings and emphasizes the fleeting nature of these special deals, tapping into the fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s about turning a seasonal offer into an experience, prompting your audience to act swiftly and savor your campaign's unique benefits.

  4. Provide helpful content: Providing useful content in a seasonal campaign is like sprinkling a bit of extra magic into your marketing recipe. Beyond promoting products or services, offer your audience valuable and relevant information that enhances their seasonal experience. This could range from sharing helpful tips, DIY ideas, or informative articles that align with the specific themes of the season or event. The goal is to position your brand as a resource and a source of inspiration during that particular season. Whether it’s sharing recipes for holiday treats or guides for stress-free travel during peak vacation times, providing useful content fosters engagement and establishes your brand as an authority in navigating the nuances of the season. Create a connection beyond transactions, offering your audience something of genuine value that enriches their seasonal journey with your brand.

  5. Sustain engagement beyond holidays: While holiday seasons create a natural spike in consumer interest, the key is maintaining momentum even when the decorations come down. Consider post-holiday promotions, exclusive loyalty programs, or follow-up campaigns that seamlessly transition from festive celebrations to the everyday experiences your brand caters to. By extending the narrative and engagement strategies beyond specific holidays, you demonstrate that your brand is not just a seasonal fling, but a consistent presence in your customers’ lives.

Marketing With AdRoll: Your All-Season Ally

Balancing seasonal marketing alongside your regular ad campaigns is made seamless with AdRoll’s versatile digital marketing platform. With AdRoll, you can seamlessly integrate your seasonal promotions into your ongoing marketing strategy, ensuring a cohesive and strategic approach. Whether you’re launching festive campaigns, holiday specials, or year-round promotions, AdRoll provides the tools to manage and optimize all your campaigns from a single, user-friendly dashboard. Simplify your marketing efforts, maximize reach, and stay in control of your advertising initiatives throughout the seasons. Explore the power of AdRoll’s digital marketing platform today, where every campaign finds its perfect rhythm in a unified marketing landscape.

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