Speed 16 February 2012

Romance is BIG business – the British Retail Consortium estimated Valentine’s Day to be worth more than £1.3bn, offering retailers an incredible opportunity to generate big sales and visits.

However, in an increasingly saturated marketplace, where it’s no longer just the typical card and gift retailer vying for the customer’s attention, brands need to develop tactics that make their product stand out, above and beyond anyone else’s.

Whether you’re looking to engage directly with your audience or hit the headlines – brands need to be creative and take advantage of this lucrative opportunity.

And here’s a quick look at the brands that I fell in love with this Valentine’s:

Asda hits the headlines . . .

Without a doubt, this season’s headline grabbing story goes to Asda. As a business, Asda doesn’t naturally spring to mind when you’re thinking of ways to profess your love to that special someone, but they made a huge impression this Valentine’s by simply offering cost conscious shoppers a first – a 7p card. The economy brand card featured the supermarket’s ‘Smart Price’ logo in a heart shape with the words ‘Be My Valentine’ typed above the trademark green stripe. Inside, featured the tongue and cheek message, ‘My love for you is priceless’.

Asda proved that keeping it simple sometimes does work best. You’d be hard pushed to find a national paper that didn’t pick up on this great product-led story, and by association promoting Asda’s key message – value.

Clintons ‘Sings it with Love’ . . .

As described in this week’s issue of Marketing as being ‘one of the more imaginative Valentine’s campaigns’ (& it just happens to be our client), Clintons opted for a more creative (if not vocal) approach, which incorporated the use of its social media channels to drive the campaign forward. The ‘Sing it with Love’ campaign was brought to life through a Facebook app (and supported by Twitter).

Customers were invited to choose their favourite verse taken from 10 of the most popular Valentine’s cards and dedicate it to a loved one. Eight entries were picked at random and had their chosen verse transformed into a personalised song by the Clintons Choir, who then surprised the loved ones of the winning entries. The pop-up choirs were captured on film, with content being seeded directly to the press and via the brand’s social media channels, including YouTube, where the video has to date received over 9,000 views.

The campaign created genuine engagement with both new and existing customers, whilst also inspiring people to capture and share the sentiment of the key season.

Marketing and Sex Appeal . . .

Ann Summers, the nation’s favourite sex toy and lingerie retailer, ran a multi-channel campaign to find a ‘real women’ to be the face of the brand for Valentine’s Day.

The retailer used their existing social media platforms to launch the campaign and received over 4,000 entries. The 10 finalists were revealed in a steamy advert, screened during the final episode of ITV2’s The Only Way is Essex, and viewers were encouraged to vote for their favourite model via a dedicated website. The competition created a lot of noise both on and offline, and received over 30,000 votes. Student Lucy Moore, was revealed as the winner and new face of the brand in early January. The retailer used images of Moore in its store windows, on the website, and as the front cover star of the Ann Summers Valentine’s Day catalogue.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a brand use ‘real women’ as the focus of their campaign, but if it’s executed well from start to finish it continues to be a winning formula, as proven by Ann Summers. The multi-layered campaign reached multiple consumer touch points and provided an interesting angle for its first ever TV advert.