February 14, 2011
Cynical me. I thought for sure Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark to sell greeting cards, which would absolutely make it one of the bigger, better integrated marketing ideas ever. Not only does it have a fabulous social component –it’s “social” by definition- the target is essentially everyone: old, young, gay and straight, black and white…everyone with a pulse, or should I say heart? Synergies with restaurants, hotels, jewelers, dating websites, florists and confectioners abound. The iconography (hearts, cupid, roses, etc) is worldwide and always relevant. They own the color red. Such marketing firepower! Valentine’s Day would win the Titanium Lion at Cannes any year it was entered.
Alas, I cannot give credit to Hallmark or any other modern marketer for this lovely campaign. According to Wikipedia, the day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs, probably Saint Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD.
In 1969, Pope Paul VI deleted the holiday from the Roman Calendar of Saints (not feeling the Summer of Love I guess), but Cupid’s arrow was not to be denied. Whether we like it or not (and I don’t) Valentine’s Day forces consumerism like Christmas but without segregation. Muslims, Jews and all manner of miscellaneous “others” had better not forget their significant others.
So, while I begrudgingly fight for suitable dinner reservations and order tickets to some odious Rom Com, I have to give it up to St. Valentine. A man of God, he would have made a hell of a CMO.