Six Valentine’s Day PR Campaigns to Get You in the Mood

Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day has come round again. It’s that time of the year when supermarket shelves groan with heart-shaped chocolate boxes, restaurants and florists hike their prices, and jewellers extend their opening hours.

But it’s not just high street retailers that benefit. Each year, V-Day inspires a plethora of fun Valentine’s Day PR campaigns from brands that are determined to make their mark in the love stakes and grab a few column inches while they’re at it.

Here are six of our favourite Valentine’s PR campaigns where brands have leveraged the love.

The ‘world’s largest Starbucks date’: and Starbucks

Ad for Starbucks Valentines Date Campaign

Fancy a side of love with your latte? Thanks to this gem of a Valentine’s Day PR stunt by Starbucks and, you can.

In the run up to V-Day 2015, Match introduced a ‘Meet at Starbucks’ feature to its mobile app. The app enabled users to connect with fellow coffee enthusiasts and arrange dates at mutually convenient Starbucks stores in the USA and Canada.

Dubbed the ‘world’s largest Starbucks date’, the aim was to get as many budding couples as possible to meet up.

Those that did, got to enjoy some specially designed coffee and food pairings, such as a White Mocha with a heart-shaped cookie, and a Caffe Verona with chocolate-raspberry truffles.

The food and drink pairings were complemented with in-store experiences, such as live music, special playlists chosen by Starbucks employees, and photo props so daters could document and share their #StarbucksDate with the world.

The campaign garnered loads of media attention in the run up to the PR stunt – both in the States and the UK. The hashtag is still used today, so Starbucks has managed to secure long-term leverage with the campaign.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

The idea for this Valentine’s PR campaign emerged after a survey by revealed that over 3 million of its members list ‘coffee and conversation’ as one of their interests.

The insight inspired a collaboration between these two mega-brands, which made perfect sense as, well, dating and coffee go together like fish and chips, right?  The PR stunt enabled the non-competing brands to tap into each other’s audiences and create a newsworthy PR angle.

Our verdict? A match made in caffeine heaven.

Fancy teaming up with another brand to dominate your niche? Read: The Power of Brand Partnerships.

All aboard the love carriage: Virgin Trains

Fred-Sirieix on Virgin Train for Valentines

To promote the upgrade of its East Coast Train service in 2016, Virgin Trains played Cupid with a quirky Valentine’s Day PR campaign.

The brand invited 24 customers to board a specially chartered train from London King’s Cross to York for a speed-dating experience like no other.

They pulled out all the stops for the high-speed adventure, which took place on the aptly named ‘Love Carriage’.

Virgin decked the carriage out with red roses, fairy lights and romantic music, and enlisted Channel 4’s First Dates maître d’, Fred Sirieix to host the proceedings and ensure the potential couples received a first-class service.

The lucky singletons enjoyed unlimited Prosecco, a delicious three-course dinner, and played fun ice-breaker party games before the speed dating kicked off.

Couples had 10 minutes to get to know one another before the men moved onto the next single lady.

By the time the train arrived back in London, the passengers were discussing which bar to head to.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

This Valentine’s PR stunt, which attracted a huge amount of press coverage, demonstrated the luxury of the Virgin Trains experience, and the nippy speed at which it covers the distance between London and York (a little over two hours).

The campaign was effective as it was innovative, quirky, and true to the Virgin brand.

Third-wheel Kevin: Deliveroo

Deliveroo TV ad campaign for Third Wheel at Valentine's

In 2017, online food delivery company Deliveroo surveyed 2,000 Brits about Valentine’s Day.

The results showed that V-Day traditions in the UK are changing. 1 in 4 people said they’d rather spend Valentine’s Day with friends than their other halves. 54% said they’d be happy to ‘third wheel’ a couple on Valentine’s Day, and 37% of couples said they’d enjoy having a third guest at the dinner table. Who said romance is dead?

Shying away from romantic conventions, Deliveroo used the results of the survey to poke fun at ‘third wheelers’ (those perpetually single folk that always seem to ‘tag along’ with couples).

The campaign, dubbed ‘Third Wheel Kevin’, features singleton ‘Kevin’, who, as the narrator puts it, is ‘soul-crushingly alone’. He goes on to say, ‘being single doesn’t just affect Kevin when he’s at home. Many life-affirming activities are impossible alone.’

As the narrator describes the slight inconveniences of being single, Kevin’s seen playing single-person sports and posing alone in a two-person photo stand.

After explaining how boring the single life is, the narrator says, ‘it can be tiring being this lonely. Deliveroo can help you give the third-wheel in your life some love.’

The ad cuts to a shot of Kevin enjoying a meal with the narrator and his girlfriend. The caption reads ‘third wheel meal deal’.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

This campaign made our list because of its simplicity. Deliveroo used interesting market research to provide entertainment value, whilst highlighting great deals during Valentine’s week.

As Deliveroo has proven, PR surveys can provide you with a lucrative way to bolster your PR efforts. Why? Because it will provide you with exclusive findings – the kind that will enable you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and get your name in the news.

An o-mazing opportunity to date Idris Elba: Omaze

Idris Elba holds Box of chocolates for Omaze campaign

Whether he’s Stringer Bell or DCI John Luther, there’s no denying Idris Elba is one the hottest talents (and men) in Hollywood.

The team at American online fundraising platform Omaze were well aware of this. Which is why they approached him to feature in a unique Valentine’s Day PR/fundraising campaign in 2017.

To raise money and awareness for W.E. Can Lead, a charity that provides development and leadership programmes for schoolgirls across Africa, Omaze offered fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be flown to London and enjoy an activity of their choice, followed by an intimate dinner with Elba.

All fans had to do to be in with a chance to win was make a $10 (£8.25) donation to the charity.

To promote the competition, Omaze produced two videos. The first, which was filmed in a posh hotel room, featured Idris surrounded by red roses, champagne, and chocolate truffles. Looking flirtatiously at the camera, he describes some of the activities that fans could enjoy with him if they won, such as dinner, drinks, dessert, and ‘pounding his yams.’

Massive interest

As you can imagine, the video sent the female population into a tizzy. Within a week, it had garnered 7.5M views on Facebook, and generated headlines across the consumer and trade press.

A couple of weeks later, Omaze released a second video. In this one, Idris sought dating advice from children. He asked them a series of questions, from ‘what happens on a date’, and ‘what kind of food should I order’, to ‘what kind of dance moves will impress my date?’ He also asked whether he should be a bad boy or good guy on the date.

The answers were hilarious, and the video quickly went viral, reaching 20 million people on Facebook and amassing 6.2M views.

Unsurprisingly, the charity was inundated with donations. They received more than $750K during the five weeks the campaign was running.

The campaign also generated an astounding 1.1b media impressions, boosting the profiles of Idris, Omaze and W.E. Can Lead exponentially.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

Everything about this campaign was inspired. It was simple to understand and easy for people to enter. It also had the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor, and the backing of a powerful Hollywood celebrity.

All of these elements combined to generate tons of money for the charity and positive publicity for everyone involved, including a coveted Shorty Impact award nomination.

Romantic Treasure Hunt: LoveAntiques

Couple kiss under London statue

To celebrate the International Day of Love, online antiques marketplace LoveAntiques organised an innovative PR stunt, aimed at engaged couples.

The company hid cryptic clues around ten of the capital’s most romantic statues, forming a treasure hunt. But this was no ordinary treasure hunt, as the ‘treasure’ was an antique Art Deco engagement ring, worth £1,000.

At 10am on the day of the hunt, participants were emailed the location of the first statue. The clues, all in the form of rhyming couplets, included: ‘To win a princess’ hand, this saintly man made a stand,” which pointed the way to the St George and the Dragon statue in St John’s Wood.

Participants had to take a selfie at each statue and tweet it to LoveAntiques. This prompted the next clue, or a message saying they were in the wrong place.

A member of the LoveAntiques team greeted the first couple to reach the final statue and handed over the sparkly prize.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

This campaign caught the attention of lots of young couples as it was fun, quirky, and there was a high value prize at stake. It sent LoveAntique’s website into meltdown and attracted coverage from pretty much every online news channel and major print publication, including the Metro. The winning couple were also interviewed on ITV News London.

Valentines for the NHS: Claire Ruddock

Love the NHS Valentine's charity campaign

There’s been a huge outpouring of love and gratitude for our NHS workers since the start of the pandemic. Children painted thank you pictures and placed them proudly in living room windows; communities rallied around to deliver PPE and food to exhausted doctors and nurses; we all stood on our doorsteps to applaud our frontline workers each week, and the late Captain Tom Moore inspired us to donate over £33m to NHS charities.

With respect for the NHS at an all-time high, it’s not surprising that businesses, health charities and community groups used Valentine’s Day 2021 as an opportunity to show our healthcare professionals know how much they mean to us. (While also bagging a bit of positive PR.)

Take this campaign by brand marketer Claire Ruddock. In January 2021, she spearheaded a campaign to raise money for the NHS.

After hearing stories of the trauma healthcare workers experienced during the pandemic, she was inspired to show her appreciation by organising a grassroots fundraising and PR campaign.

Calling it ‘Valentines for the NHS’ campaign, she set up a JustGiving page with an impassioned plea to the public, which started with, ‘let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is a big bag of crap. An avalanche of advertiser propaganda nonsense’.

She urged people to donate money to the NHS rather than shell out on ‘cutesy cards’ and ‘naff red and pink hearts’, as, she argues ‘they are the people who really need a token of love and appreciation this February 14th.’ She also asked people to add a blue heart and the hashtag #lovethenhs to their social media pages, to show support.

Claire’s impassioned campaign was picked up by the likes of The Independent which helped her raise £4,333 for NHS Charities Together.

Why did this Valentine’s PR campaign work?

Claire’s story was picked up for several reasons. She tapped into public feeling, spoke authentically and was deeply passionate about the cause.

In addition, the campaign reflects the impact the pandemic has had on consumer sentiment, as people adjust their priorities in challenging times. It also goes to show that you don’t need to be a multi-million-pound company to get the attention of the media.

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