This article originally appeared in Comperemedia's Bolder Thinking Blog.
In 2019, consumers spent $20.7 billion on gifts for Valentine’s Day according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a lot of money for a holiday
that’s said to be created by the greeting cards industry. While many who celebrate the holiday visit card giant Hallmark, they also indulge in chocolates such as Reese’s Hearts and buy their significant other red roses to say “I love you.”
Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year for card, chocolate, and flower brands. Here’s a look into how Hallmark, Reese’s, and ProFlowers spent digital ad dollars to attract consumers this month.
The ad strategy that flowers twice a year: ProFlowers
ProFlowers has two concerted digital advertising campaigns throughout the year, beginning with Valentine’s Day.
In the first half of February, ProFlowers spent three-quarters (77%) of its total digital ad spend on desktop video. Top creatives included a flurry of Facebook image posts depicting faint hearts, and an array of rose, lily, and other bouquets to choose from.
The video ads encouraged viewers to buy their flowers to express how they feel about loved ones on February 14. Say, “always and forever” with roses, “be my Galentine” with a bouquet of mixed flowers, and “you’re cute” with a vase of lilies. This is in contrast to its advertising last year when messaging focused more so on affordable “deals of the day” and “ordering like a pro.”
The only other time of year where ProFlowers spends heavily on digital ads is Mother’s Day. In fact, in the two weeks leading up to Mother’s Day 2019, the company spent $1.1M on digital ads — including $600K on desktop display, $121K on desktop video, and $404K on Facebook ads.
Hallmark hits the mark
Female empowerment is seen in both ProFlowers’ and Hallmark’s Valentine’s Day messaging. While ProFlowers celebrates Galentine’s Day, Hallmark sets the scene for how young girls are celebrating the holiday. One ad shows a bullied schoolgirl who finds a loving card in her locker from a friend uplifting her when she needs it most, and the other shows the youngest resident of an apartment building sliding Valentine’s Day cards underneath her neighbors’ doors.
Hallmark spent nearly $1.5M over the first two weeks of February, $1.3M of which the company spent on Facebook. In fact, its Facebook ad spend continuously trended upward from February 1 through February 14. Outside of Facebook, Hallmark spent the most money with YouTube and Hulu ($89.3K and $27K respectively), which is no surprise given the company published two Valentine’s Day related video ads in 2020.
Can’t buy love, but you can buy chocolate
Reese’s Heart chocolates are another Valentine’s Day staple, which explains why we found several Reese’s heart-and-rose-themed ads in the weeks leading up to February 14. Reese’s spent $1.2M on 51 creatives during this period and offered a variety of ads that had no one focus.
For example, in addition to Valentine’s Day posts, Pathmatics tracked ads for new products including Reese’s Thins, Dipped Pretzels, Reese’s Take5, and even its next holiday-themed candy, Reese’s Eggs. Though Reese’s kept a majority of the ads in its typical orange-and-yellow color theme, its Valentine’s Day ads inject a pop of pink, red, and purple, as well as a single rose, to keep in theme with the holiday.
The strategy is dissimilar from last year’s: Reese’s spent less and used fewer creatives in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day 2019. None of its digital ads strayed from the orange-yellow palette and its 24 creatives focus on manipulating images of the chocolate to look like a heart. Reese’s spent 88% of $561K of its budget, on Facebook ads.
Brands that ‘heart’ digital advertising
Consumer spending for Valentine’s Day continues to trend upward year after year, and the holiday provides brands a great opportunity to connect with its audience in a fun way. With more ads focusing on friendship, ProFlowers and Hallmark approached this year’s digital ads with a less romantic lens. Reese’s also took a lighthearted approach while staying orange and yellow true. Whatever the strategy, this year’s Valentine’s Day certainly brings a loving approach to digital ads.
William Merchan is a data science, marketing analytics, advertising technology and startup veteran. He currently serves as chief revenue officer at marketing intelligence company Pathmatics, where he is responsible for brand growth and awareness. Previously, William built products and grew teams at DataScience.com, MarketShare and Yahoo!. He holds a BS in Business from the University of California Berkeley and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.