Roses are red, PR is blue. This year brands are saving all their love for you

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New research shows that Brits are set to spend £1.9bn on spoiling their loved ones this Valentine’s Day – and the ‘purchase party’ kicks off today.

It seems as though my invite has been lost in the post, and it’s not the first time. At least now I’ve got the scientific evidence I’ve been waiting for to explain my February 14th cynicism. I’m allergic to Valentine’s Day.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t know a lovely PR or marketing stunt when it hits me in the face. Here’s some of my favourite brand campaigns to date:

The cuddle café
Hot off the heels of McDonald’s Pay with Lovin’ campaign, McVitie’s has launched a pop-up café in Central London where customers can pay for their order with a hug.

Supported with the hashtag #Sweeet (expect many mis-spelt hashtags on Twitter), the biscuit brand is promoting the activity across its social media channels.

It’s a quick win for McVitie’s, led by creative agency 3 Monkeys, but I’m not sure how long these pop-ups will prevail. It’s already been done by the likes of Weight Watchers and Kellogg’s.

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I like my men like I like my coffee
Coffee giant Starbucks has teamed up with Match.com for a Valentine’s Day promotion, encouraging potential couples to grab a hot beverage on the first date.

Match has made the most of brand partnerships in the past, but it’s the first time the dating site has integrated one into its suggested ‘first date’ options.

As part of the launch, Match is encouraging singletons to join the ‘World’s Largest #StarbucksDate’ by popping into Starbucks‘ stores next Friday for Valentine’s Day themed snacks to help facilitate a connection.

It’s a well-thought out campaign and Starbucks has done a great job of ensuring no opportunity is left unturned. The partnership has legs (ooh er missus) and it’ll be interesting to see how it maximises the promotion later in the year.

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50 Shades has grown old and tired
50 Shades is the first film in years that has given brands a universal opportunity to generate some talkability. Whether you’ve read the books or not, everyone understands the concept – and with the blockbuster just days away from release people are attempting to cash in.

Fashion retailer JD Williams is no exception. For Valentine’s Day, it’s launched an ‘Over 50 Shades Of Grey‘ lingerie campaign which features older women posing with signs with body positive messages, in an attempt to combat older women being underrepresented in the media.

Despite the campaign not being aimed at me, I just don’t think JD Williams is a brand with the recognition or kudos to pull this off. It’s a cheap attempt to push its lingerie selection, covered up with a ‘serious’ message. Maybe if it was a designer label, featuring a-list celebrities piggybacking off a global event, such as the Oscars, it may have had more cut through.

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What’s love got to do with it?
Hallmark – the brand behind those endearing poems and rhymes inside your Valentine’s Day cards – has created a series of videos as part of its ‘Put Your Heart to Paper‘ campaign.

Interviewing couples about how they feel about one another, Hallmark asked them to share their romantic stories and describe their feelings without using the word ‘love’.

The end result is actually very emotive and engaging – and comes close to melting my heart. In little over two weeks, some of the clips have scored more than 180,000 YouTube views, proving that these real-life stories are not only welcomed, but loved.

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Get the hint
We know that the PR industry loves a rationale for its wacky stunts – and that comes in the form of ‘robust’ research. So, it’s no surprise that Harvey Nichols commissioned a study which found that a third of men don’t know what to buy their partners on Valentine’s Day. More than this, almost half of women don’t even like the gifts they end up with.

To provide a solution, the retailer has launched the ‘happiness hint generator‘ on its website, making it easy for people to nudge their partners into buying some they they really want in the form of a Valentine’s Day Facebook e-card.

It’s a simple, yet effective way, for a big brand to stand out on social while not taking itself too seriously.

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Are you in love with any of these stunts? How do you think they compare to last year’s brand efforts?

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