Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love in all its forms, be it romantic love, platonic love, familial love — or your love for marketing. Okay, that last one might be a little out of place, but you get the point.
This year, we’re showing love to our favorite creative Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns from brands across various industries.
If you’re in need of some inspiration for your next Valentine’s Day campaign, you’ll love the following examples.
To get their “love insurance,” couples can visit Toblerone.co.uk to buy the brand’s special edition Valentine’s Day chocolate bar, which comes with its own insurance. If the relationship ends, the couple can register the purchase with @TobleroneUK on Instagram and they’ll receive a voucher to redeem online. This way, neither the Toblerone nor their relationship feels like a waste.
2. Cadbury 5 Star – Valentine’s Day Alibi
Those without a Valentine often find themselves struggling to dodge the dreaded question “What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” Fortunately, Cadbury 5 Star’s 2022 Valentine’s Day campaign tooksome of the pressure off.
The Indian chocolate brand took over an island off the coast of Karnataka and renamed it “My cousin’s wedding.” So, consumers without a Valentine couldsay “I’m not in town, I’m going to my cousin’s wedding” when asked about Valentine’s Day plans.
For a chance to access the island, consumers could scan the special Cadbury 5 Valentine’s Day packs, which tookthem to a website to mine coins and gain an opportunity to bid for the island.
3. Gucci – Love Story Zine
For Valentine’s Day 2022, Gucci released a limited-edition zine that consisted of visually stunning photos telling the love story ofa fairy and giant. Each photo in the zine showcased items from the fashion house’s Valentine’s Day collection.
The marketing campaign intrigued customers, offered an exclusive item (a physical copy of the zine), and it showed the beauty of the brand’s clothes and accessories.
4. Pandora – Real Couples Explain What Valentine’s Day Means to Them
In 2021, Pandora asked real-life couples and friends to share the little (and not-so-little) things they’ve done to express their love. Some acts of love were tiny, such as a peck on the cheek or a hug; others were huge steps in the relationship, such as moving in together or adopting a dog.
The YouTube video included a link to the company’s website and a message that the company can help viewers show their loved ones how much they’re appreciated with Pandora charms and gifts.
5. Etsy – Show Love to Small Businesses
To show love and support to its community of sellers, e-commerce platform Etsy offered a ready-made graphic sellers could use to promote their Valentine’s Day products on social media. Sellers could also combine the graphic with the hashtag #MakeItMeaningful to draw attention to their Etsy store.
The pre-made graphic grabbed audience attention and fostered a sense of community among Etsy sellers.
In 2020, beer brand Stella Artois created a 15 second YouTube that shows the growth of a couple throughout the years and the role the brand’s beer played in their love.
The video is simple, heartfelt, and captures the spirit of Valentine’s Day. It was a huge hit and garnered almost 3 million views on YouTube.
7. Dunkin – Valentine’s Day Trivia Promo Code
For Valentine’s Day, Dunkin invited its followers to play a trivia game via Instagram Stories for a chance to unlock a secret promo code. The ad campaign delighted consumers with a fun game testing their knowledge of Dunkin and it rewarded customers with a chance to save on their favorite items.
Hotels.com’s Valentine’s Day marketing campaign took a clever approach to the holiday by urging users to visit its V-Day Dumpster Stay web page and write about an ex they believe should vacation in a dumpster.
All stories were entered into a competition for participants to win a $300 Hotels.com gift card.
9. Cadbury Silk – How Far Will You Go to Make Them Blush?
In 2022, Cadbury Silk placed QR codes on its Cadbury Silk Heart Blush chocolate pack which led consumers to its website where buyers can write a secret message to a loved one. Said loved on could then see the secret message by scanning any Cadbury ad.
10. Tyson – Chicken Nugget Bouquet Contest
A bouquet of flowers is the quintessential Valentine’s Day present, but food brand Tyson decided to put a fresh spin on a classic gift. In 2021, the company challenged consumers to create their own chicken nugget bouquet for Valentine’s Day.
The contest winner would win a package of Tyson Nuggets of Lovelimited edition heart-shaped chicken nuggets only available through the contest. To enter, participants had to create their best nugget bouquet and post a picture of the bouquet on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #NuggetBouquetContest and #TysonNuggetsofLove.
Other prizes included $5,000 and a year’s supply of Tyson chicken nuggets.
Every year, cosmetics company Lancôme releases a Valentine’s Day advent calendar filled with products for consumers to try and discover. From lotion to mascara to perfume — the advent calendar contains a wide variety of products. The idea is excellent because it introduces consumers to new products that they may want to buy more of going forward.
12. El Paso Zoo – Valentine’s Day ‘Quit Bugging Me’ Event
Every year, the El Paso Zoo holds a Valentine’s Day event where scorned lovers can name a cockroach after an ex. The cockroach would then be fed to a zoo animal. The event is so popular it’s been referenced on Saturday Night Live.
13. Gü Desserts – Love-themed Packaging
In 2020, British brand Gü Desserts released a series of love-themed packaging called “Love Notes” for selected desserts. The packaging was adorned with a love song title adapted to the brand.
For example, the brand’s salted caramel cheesecakes came with packaging that read “I’m in love with the shape of Gü.”
14. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing – Customized Bottle
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like giving someone a bottle of — Ranch Dressing?
In 2021, while flower companies and B2C brands were highlighting the romantic gifts partners could give to each other, Hidden Valley took a funny approach to this strategy by offering audiences customized Valentine’s Day-themed bottles of Ranch salad dressing.
While this seems like an odd gift to some, Hidden Valley knows it has fans out there that just love to cover everything they eat with Ranch dressing. To those audiences, this gift is funny, personalized, and potentially useful.
15. Pandora – Little Acts of Love
In 2022, Pandora revisited its successful”Little Acts of Love” campaign with an ad placement featuring more couples doing small acts of love for each other.
The ad shows couples displaying acts of kindness towards one another that would be appreciated any day of the year. This ad reminds us all that thoughtful gestures can go a long way.
16. 1-800-Flowers – Galentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for significant others, and 1-800-Flowers wants friendships to be celebrated as well.
This ad depicts two friends talking about how they established their friendship, reminding the viewer that platonic love also deserves to be celebrated. The two friends in the ad ask each other thoughtful questions about their friendship and how much they mean to each other.
It’s an emotional ad that will inspire you to call your best friend, and maybe send them some flowers.
17. Target – Valentine’s Day Haul Instagram Post
Many people have experienced walking into Target without a list, relying on Target to tell them what they need. This user-generated post on Target’s Instagram account captures the spirit of what we all love about Target — how easy it is to load up on fun items (though our bank accounts may not share the love).
In the video, the original poster fills their cart with festive Valentine’s Day merchandise at their local Target. Though it isn’t a traditionally produced ad, it’s a relatable post for Target shoppers who may have been inspired to visit their local store and pick up some of the items they saw featured in the post to celebrate.
18. MeUndies – Match Me Valentine’s Day
This relatable MeUndies ad from 2021 captures the spirit of communicating via Zoom that many people have become familiar with since early 2020.
In the ad, couples talk about some of their pre-pandemic plans including travel and weddings. Though many of those events didn’t go as planned, the couples talked about ways they’ve grown closer despite the challenges and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic all while wearing matching merch from MeUndies.
19. Winc – Be Wine Instagram Post
Wine is a popular Valentine’s Day gift that is up there with roses and chocolate. Wine subscription company Winc typically devotes real estate on itssocial channels for Valentine’s Day-themed posts in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
In 2021, the Winc Instagram account had a series of posts consisting of unique and user-generated content related to Valentine’s Day. The “Be Wine?” post was among the most popular. We loved the punny caption and heart-themed visuals.
20. OpenTable – Millennial Experiences
If you’ve ever marketed to millennials, you may know that millennials value experiential gifts. Or, as OpenTable says in this 2020 ad, dates.
In 2020 OpenTable released 14 ads as part of a two-week countdown to Valentine’s Day, encouraging customers to make reservations early to avoid the holiday rush.
Each of the ads targeted a different audience that could benefit from using OpenTable to make Valentine’s Day reservations, with a clear call-to-action and messaging that appeals to the ideal viewer.
Honorable Mention: Match.com’s “Match Made in Hell” campaign.
Technically, this campaign wasn’t created for Valentine’s Day specifically. But, many of our marketers thought it had all the perfect elements of a great Valentine’s Day campaign.
In the commercial, directed by actor Ryan Reynolds, Satan sits in Hell using Match’s app when he sees he’s matched with a woman named 2020. When he meets up with her on Earth, he nervously says “Hi 2-0-2-0.” She replies, “Please, call me 2020” — pronouncing it like the year.
As the commercial continues, 2020’s character appears to be the epitome of everything that happened in 2020.
For example, the ad shows Satan and 2020 causing mischief, stealing toilet paper from store shelves, having a picnic in empty stadiums, and ultimately posing for a selfie in front of a dumpster fire.
The couple frolics to the familiar sounds of Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Love Story,” which also sparks a sense of rom-com nostalgia for millennials.
On the same day of this ad’s December release, Match and Reynolds also shared another commercial showing the pair explaining how they met in couple’s counseling.
In this video, Satan explains how he found 2020 on Match:
“I started by using the Match custom search filter. I filtered out joy, happiness, toilet paper, and reason,” Satan says in the video below:
Although this didn’t launch in February, it was a very clever newsjacking example that many of our marketers say they enjoyed when they were asked to share their favorite Valentine’s campaigns.
While 2020 was a difficult year for many, Match and Reynolds identified a tasteful way to create content that audiences could relate to. At the same time, they still told an epic, hilarious love story with a pleasant, entertaining tone. Although they discussed a truly terrible year, they did so in a way that felt like escapism for the viewer.
Valentine’s Day Campaign Takeaways
As you create and launch Valentine’s Day campaigns, take note of these strategies many of the brands above used:
Grab your audience’s attention:Like with any holiday, marketers around the globe are churning out content around it. To compete with this overly saturated Valentine’s Day ad landscape, you’ll need to grab and keep your viewer’s attention with entertaining elements or valuable information.
Be relatable: Around this time of year, many people are inundated with high-budget Valentine’s Day ads that offer them no useful information or value. Even if you want to tell a mushy romance-fueled love story with your content, make sure it still feels relatable or authentic. To do this, you can leverage tactics like telling a story your audience will relate to, or leveraging user-generated content from your followers — like Twitter has.
Test out different platforms: While some companies on this list took to Instagram, others embraced physical campaign strategies like special products or billboard use.
Now that you have some ideas for your next Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, you’re ready to find new ways to make consumers fall in love with your brand.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in Feb. 2013, but was updated for comprehensiveness.