The Perfect Valentine’s Ad Inspo: All You Need is Love
Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day has become a staple date in calendars across the globe, with a jaw-dropping £926 million being spent for the annual celebration in the UK alone last year.
It’s not purely perfume and chocolate manufacturers capitalising on the trend, but any retailer with something to sell. In fact, some of the most shared Valentine’s Day adverts in recent years have been released by the likes of Vodafone, Google, and Extra Gum- none of which offer your stereotypical Valentine’s gifts.
In light of this, we’ve created the ultimate ‘to-do’ list for those wanting to create the perfect Valentine’s Day-themed advert, based largely on an analysis of the most successful ads from the last ten years.
You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All
If viral Valentine’s ads have taught us anything, it’s that dialogue isn’t always necessary. Extra Gum’s tear-jerking 2015 advert follows a young couple’s journey from high school through to marriage proposal using an unexpected medium- gum wrappers.
In the two-minute clip, audiences witness a video montage of several key moments in the couple’s courtship, including their first kiss and first major falling out, with the boyfriend capturing each moment by sketching the scene on the back of a gum wrapper. The advert ends with the girlfriend seeing all of these drawings for the first time before turning around to see her partner down on one knee.
Despite not uttering a single word of dialogue throughout the entire video, the campaign had viewers reaching hurriedly for the tissues, and quickly accumulated over 3.3 million views across YouTube in its first week.
Letting consumers become fully absorbed in a narrative without having to spoon-feed them with dialogue is an effective way to create a more memorable advert, particularly if the story is told through less traditional means.
Play That Funky Music
Although a successful Valentine’s campaign doesn’t need dialogue to draw audiences in, one element that is absolutely essential is music. And not just any music, emotive
In recent years, acoustic covers of popular songs have become a common trend amongst Valentine’s Day-themed adverts, such as Haley Reinhart’s stripped-back version of ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ in Extra Gum’s 2015 advert.
Despite the obvious cliché, instrumental music that takes consumers on a journey is the safest choice. Racking up over 1.3 million views on YouTube back in 2013, Vodafone’s ‘The Kiss’ quickly became the most-watched video of the year across the streaming platform, with Communication Arts claiming that the advert ‘transcend[ed] language and culture’. Designed to promote Vodafone’s new unlimited text and talk plan, the short video shows a continuous clip of a couple sharing a kiss as they grow old together- with Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Walk’ being the only audible sound throughout. The melancholic yet romantic piano tune compliments the footage perfectly, creating an unspoken narrative that viewers can’t help but fall in love with.
Choosing the right soundtrack is key; cringey though it may be, emotional music is often the part of the advert that viewers remember most.
Obvious though it may sound, having a story that consumers can easily become invested in is a key element that retailers often lose sight of. Creating a thread for viewers to follow is an integral part of making the perfect Valentine’s Day advert. It’s all well and good showing a happy couple, but retailers can’t expect their target audiences to relate to the advert unless they weave in some sort of narrative.
Seen time and time again, the journey of a couple from first kiss to first grandchild is always a successful way to capture an audiences’ attention and keep it after the first few seconds.
Google’s 2009 search-engine advert, for example, uses Google searches to tell a ‘Parisian Love Story’. Told through a series of Google searches, including ‘impress a French girl’ and ‘long-distance relationship advice’, viewers are prompted to connect the dots and see how the relationship blossoms.
Love Don’t Cost a Thing
The common thread bringing all of the aforementioned Valentine’s Day campaigns together? A distinct lack of product placement.
By this, we don’t mean that the product doesn’t make an appearance throughout the advert, just that it isn’t the sole focus.
Despite the very nature of advertising, which gravitates around the desire to sell, most successful Valentine’s campaigns don’t feel like a sales pitch. Consumers aren’t confronted with a product that’s unashamedly thrown under their noses; they’re taken on a journey that pulls on heartstrings, not wallet zips.
KFC’s ‘Love is Forever’ advert back in 2011 is a fantastic example of this. Although the universally-recognized chicken wings are shown briefly in the advert’s opening scene, the short video shifts the focus onto an elderly couple as they slow dance their way through their favourite song, both growing physically younger as the dance progresses. Ending on a clip of the couple collapsing exhaustedly onto the bed as young children, KFC’s campaign plays on the idea of lifelong romance and childhood nostalgia.
In short, mastering the art of subconscious selling is key to creating a memorable Valentine’s Day campaign.
Some People Need Three Dozen Roses
As Alicia Keys suggests in the hit song ‘If I Ain’t Got You’, roses and diamond rings aren’t the be-all and the end-all when it comes to Valentine’s Day. This is reflected in many ad campaigns from the last ten years, which stray from the stereotypical symbols of romance, like flowers and chocolate, in favour of more quirky signs of affection.
Even if your campaign consists of a series of social posts rather than a single video, there are still ways of jumping onto the Valentine’s trend without having to find a dozen stock images of red roses and scented candles.
In 2014, for example, Ikea decided to make its own unique contribution to that year’s Valentine’s Day campaigns with some suggestively positioned wooden chairs. Posed in a position that gives a subtle nod to a page in the Kama Sutra, Ikea’s cheeky poster campaign offered something a little different to the market. Think outside the box and give consumers a campaign to remember.
So there you have it, our top five ingredients for creating the perfect Valentine’s Day advert. Although it only comes around once a year, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to increase sales and brand engagement, even if the thought of romance sends a shiver down your spine.