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The sneaky ways brands market Valentine’s Day
By Dear Storyteller Team

Brace yourselves, the annual shilling of roses and Hallmark cards has begun. Making restaurant bookings has become an Olympic sport and the tactics brands use to get you spending on that special someone are out in force. 

Some tactics are overt, but others cleverly tap into some more unusual aspects of love and relationships to get you to part with your cash. Here are some of the obvious and not-so-obvious ways they sell V-Day.  

Pandora: Little Acts of Love


Make your love story complete with [insert product here], the ultimate way to say I love you this Valentine’s Day.

Gift-giving, don’t we all have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it? Chocolates, flowers and gift cards are just a few of the must-haves on Valentine’s Day to show your partner how much you truly love them. Why not take it a step further with a customised romantic storybook or luxurious jewellery?

Advertisers know that buyers only want the best for their special someone. It’s why they present their product as the pinnacle of romantic expression. That said, the real reason this tactic can work is a little more insidious than what you see on the surface. By putting their products on a pedestal as ‘expressions of love’ the ads subtly stir feelings of inadequacy and concerns about disappointing your partner. How can viewers reconcile that feeling? By purchasing bigger and better gifts of course.

The Adventure Challenge: Couple’s Edition


Go deeper this Valentine’s day with this unique [insert experience here] for couples and find the meaning in your relationship.

What’s more compelling than the need for human connection? These advertisers know how to strike into the heart of those who prioritise quality time with their main squeeze. There’s a wealth of romantic Valentine’s Day experiences on offer, from candlelit pop-up picnics to rom-com movie screenings and hot-air balloon rides. 

Across social media, advertisers show you the experiences they think will charm you the most. As you imagine a romantic new memory through rose-coloured glasses, these brands are banking on that desire to feel close to your partner.



Inject a bit of fun and cheekiness into your relationship with this [game/experience/product] and put the spark back into your love life.

While it’s true that cultural conversations around sex have shifted to focus on sexual wellness and empowerment rather than the male gaze, it’s still a widely used advertising tactic. Unsurprisingly, this approach is widespread amongst brands selling lingerie, sex toys, and games. Of course, this technique seeks to spark your desire to be thrilled; but when you look a little deeper, there’s another reason it can work. By indirectly touching on latent feelings of sexual frustration or insecurity, advertisers might hope you’ll interpret their product as a solution and feel compelled to follow through on a purchase.

Particularly on social media, brands have to compete for your attention as you scroll through your newsfeed. Particularly around Valentine’s Day when the marketplace is at its most cluttered, they’re hoping the alluring promise of a good time will capture your interest and lead to a sale.

Ben & Jerry’s 


Anyone else about to eat a whole pizza and watch Love Actually for the fourteenth time today? We got you boo!

Let’s face it, being single on Valentine’s Day often means cringing at a veritable onslaught of lovey-dovey couple-focused advertising. In a bid to stand out, advertisers take on a self-deprecating tone to present themselves as relatable, in hopes of building trust and loyalty. Beneath the surface, this approach can also work by indirectly touching on emotional vulnerability, with the product pitched as a source of comfort. 

By validating your emotions and encouraging that oh-so-fun ‘treat yourself’ mindset, these brands are often hoping you’ll make a purchase in the short term and develop brand loyalty in the long term.



Valentine’s Day sucks, celebrate something better than chocolates and roses with us.

Geared towards cynical consumers, these ads vehemently reject sentimentality. It’s all about positioning the brand as an antidote to the cheesy conventions that go along with February 14th. 

Amongst an overwhelming volume of stereotypical Valentine’s Day ads brimming with hearts and roses, taking the opposing stance is a means of attracting your attention. Similarly to the enablement tactic, it comes down to validation. The advertiser echoes your frustrations and aligns itself with your values, hoping you’ll feel connected to their brand. 

Whether it’s through heartwarming messages of connection or rejections of saccharine convention, advertisers try to tap into your emotions across this period in hopes of boosting their bottom line. Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is a part of popular culture. 

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Written By
Dear Storyteller Team