Make it Pop!: Feeling the Love – Creative Inspiration on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and brands are already using email to ask us to be their Valentines. As you receive more Valentine’s Day-themed email creatives and possibly work at adding Valentine touches to your own, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the ways that retailers handled the holiday of hearts in 2008.

• Creative Approaches: to pink or not to pink
Valentine’s Day-themed email creatives can come off as fun or overwhelming depending on your subscriber’s moods and attitudes. We get pink and red and lace and a whole lot of hearts! Last year Costco sent out an email with their usual template, but used fun, bright pink as well as Valentine’s Day-themed copy.

In contrast, this Dean & Deluca message isn’t dressed up with any pink or hearts, but it carries its Valentine’s Day theme in its copy and the products it promotes ingredients for a special dinner for two, right down to L-O-V-E plates. Lacoste‘s mellow 2008 creative was somewhat refreshing in the sea of pink hearts flooding the inbox. The copy calls out Valentine’s Day, but the red is made subtle with the blue background and the red and white striped shirt.

• The traditional, the expected, the tasty and pretty
Last year, as every year, many brands used Valentine’s Day to feature sweets and jewelry. See Williams Sonoma‘s cute cookies and Saks Fifth Avenue’s deadline on chocolate shipping, as well as Barney’s New York subtle creative featuring their Corazon Necklace.

• Thinking outside the chocolate box
A few of last year’s Valentine’s Day marketing ideas stuck out amongst the traditions. Circuit City “deals of the day” built anticipation in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day and engaged subscribers who might not otherwise think of Circuit City as a go-to brand for the holiday.

Red Envelope sent a special email promoting jewelry for her and for him, which was
interesting—we don’t usually see “Shop Men’s Jewelry” as a CTA! This was an unexpected spin on the classic marketing of women’s-only jewelry.

• Shipping offers (and gentle prodding for procrastinators)
As the larger burden of Valentine’s Day gifting traditionally falls upon men, the gift-buying game also becomes stereotypically (and statistically) a game played by procrastinators. Most of last year’s Valentine’s Day emails called out shipping deadlines and special offers. The emails became increasingly urgent as the holiday approached, as exemplified by this bright pink last-chance Dean & Deluca email and this Red Envelope one-day offer on the shipping cut-off date.

• Be Your Own Valentine
Some clothing retailers understood that their offerings weren’t likely to be selected for gift-giving but still targeted their subscribers’ love-leaning interests by encouraging self-gifting. Arden B‘s email played off Valentine’s Day by reminding subscribers how much they love denim, and Seven for all Mankind encouraged subscribers to treat themselves in honor of Valentine’s Day. Road Runner Sports invited their subscribers to use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to display their love for running.

On Feb 14, Hollister sent out an email marketing boys’ clothes with a typical creative, but with the subject line “She won’t be able to keep her hands off you,” adding an on-brand touch of Valentine’s Day.

• Prediction for Valentine’s Day 2009: Love 2.0
Since last February, Marketers have gained a much firmer grasp on web 2.0 tactics like videos and microsites, and we expect to see some fun stuff emerge from these developments this year. For example, 1-800-Flowers included video proposals in last year’s Valentine’s Day emails, which may make a reappearance, and we may also see new versions of ideas that launched during the earlier winter holiday season, such as JC Penney‘s Beware of the Doghouse microsite.

For even more reflection on Valentines past, take a look at our old loves from 2007. Chad White’s Season Finale: Valentine’s Day 2008 on the Retail Email Blog also offers more insight into overall trends of Valentine’s Day 2008 and shows some unique approaches taken by specific brands. We expect even more and better love to be spread throughout Valentine’s Day 2009, so stay tuned to your inboxes.

Alex Madison, Smith-Harmon

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