Valentine’s Day originated in around the 5th Century with the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia. This festival took place in mid-February and celebrated the coming of spring through getting naked, getting reeeal drunk, making sacrifices, feasting and performing fertility rites – such as men running around with freshly cut animal hides and slapping any woman they came near with it, supposedly rendering said woman fertile. The day would culminate with men and women being paired off by way of a random lottery. Pretty wild, hey?
In the 14th Century, the festival moved away from physically assaulting women in the name of tradition and auctioning them off to perfect strangers and, thanks to a couple of martyrs named Valentine (although history can’t agree exactly which), the day became more romance-centred. The OG gift on Valentine’s Day was a card professing your feelings, and commercially printed Valentine’s cards can be traced back as early as the 1700s! So no, this isn’t your classic Hallmark holiday coup, despite the fact that nowadays Valentine’s Day has largely been hijacked by big business to turn a profit.
In the UK alone, Valentine’s Day generated £650 million in revenue in 2018, and a romantic dinner is estimated to be the most common way to part with your cash on the 14th Feb. This is where we come in. As a marketing agency with a number of clients in the hospitality sector we are duty bound to promote Valentine’s deal after Valentine’s deal; and so it is brought into question whether we as a company are part of the problem when it comes to Valentine’s Day being so hugely capitalised on…
In my opinion I think to claim that Valentine’s Day marketing is a shameless attempt to cash in on a holiday designed to spread love is far too simplistic, and does not give the consumer much credit. Audiences are specifically targeted based on their spending habits, interests and actions, but we can’t ever guarantee that this will translate into paying customers – that is down to the individual. Like the age-old saying goes: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. We, as an agency, can do everything in our power to put our clients in front of as many people as possible but it is up to those people whether they part with their money or not, and by and large the general public will not spend their hard-earned cash on anything they do not want. Therefore, if they are splashing out on a special Valentine’s Day deal at the spa (or whatever it might be) that’s because it’s something they ultimately desire. Of course you can also argue that they wouldn’t have known about said deal if it hadn’t been for the relentless marketing campaigns that will have been re-targeting the shit out of them since around the 3rd of January, meaning they wouldn’t have spent any money at all, but if you’re really that upset that someone is getting a great deal on something lovely for them and their partner on Valentine’s Day then maybe it’s not the capitalisation of yet another public holiday that’s the real problem (I wonder if you get this upset over getting *too many* presents at Christmas… Just saying. 🙄🤷♀️)
Although it’s fair to say Valentine’s Day has turned into a money-making machine, it isn’t going anywhere and so to shirk talking about it as a brand seems foolish, especially as, if the marketing campaign is well thought out, targeted effectively and executed successfully, it can only serve to benefit both the business and consumer. As a marketing agency would we not be naive to ignore such a widely acknowledged event? And in my humble opinion I say you do you. If 12 red roses, a box of chocolates and a candlelit dinner is your thing then crack on! Is your favourite restaurant doing a half price sharing steak on the big day? Banging! Have you found a hotel doing discounted rates when you add a bottle of Champers to your room? Happy days! And as a marketing agency, if we can bring together our clients and a happy couple over a promotion or two then I don’t see anything wrong with that, because, at the end of the day, love is a fan-fucking-tastic thing and it deserves to be celebrated; and those who argue that Valentine’s Day is just an excuse for partners to become complacent for the rest of the year can get in the sea (or, more accurately, chuck their partner who is clearly being complacent the rest of the year in the sea, because they sound like a right salad!) That is all.
Okay that isn’t quite all… As it’s a leap year and we’re an all-female agency I thought I’d ask my fellow women their opinion on the age-old tradition of women being “allowed” to propose this year. I think you can guess how they all felt about it, but I also think it’s important to get it in writing…
I’m a mega-cynic when it comes to Valentine’s – not only is it all a bit of a rip off (have you seen the price hike in roses this time of year?!) but it just all feels a bit like forced fun, and I’m not here for that any time of the year. That said, each to their own and I totally understand that some people really love it.
With regards to the Leap Year tradition….PFFT! I think it’s archaic that there’s a dedicated day for anyone to propose, regardless of whether you’re male or female. If you love someone and you want to get married then crack on – sod what anyone else thinks!
I think let’s go back to slapping each other with hides! Only let’s get some equality up in that game. Plus, love is a massive lottery anyway! You think you’ve hit the jackpot and you end up with the bonus ball (FYI- my boyfriend is massively the jackpot, i’ve just had my fair share of bonus balls). It may be a little obvious, but not a fan of Valentine’s! However, as Steph says – you do you babe! You want the romance then you bloody have it! No shade over here, hidden judgement, sure.
Regarding the proposing thing, see above. You. Do. You.
I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day; it can be a bit overrun with marketing deals and hype which can feel like a lot of pressure, whether you’re paired up or single. I don’t go in for anything schmaltzy or out of the ordinary at the best of times, so the same goes on 14th Feb. That said, I did use it as an excuse to send my chap a surprise Squeezed delivery a couple of years ago, so if people want to use it as an extra excuse to do something thoughtful or book a date night, go ahead!
As for women having to wait until a leap year to propose, pah! If you are that passionate about getting married and want to ask someone, ask them, who wants to sit on their hands for potentially four years?
I love Valentine’s Day – I’m a proper soppy idiot when it comes to anything and everything romantic. Teddy bears, chocolates, cards to even stupidly expensive city breaks away – I love going all out on Valentine’s Day. And while I think it is a sweet gesture that men “allow” us to propose on a leap year, I also think it is an incredibly old (and almost sarcastic) tradition. Who cares who proposes to who? I really don’t think there should be a time/year limit on when a woman can or can’t propose to the person they love. If they think the time is right, they should be able to propose when they want. And to be honest, as long as I get my Pinterest wedding, I really couldn’t care about traditions and if I proposed or he did!
My view on Valentine’s Day is that you shouldn’t have to have a day which dictates you to tell the person you’re with that you love them or that the person you fancy that you fancy them – I guess I’m just not a fan of being told what to do. I also think that it can be a bit polarising and make those who may not be having a great love life feel extra lonely – and nobody wants that. As for the leap year tradition, it feels very regressive. I’ve met plenty of women who have proposed to their husbands, but never one who actually waited for a leap year. I simply think that both men and women should feel free and comfortable to propose on any day of the year – as long as they’re happy and have a cracking wedding then I’m down for it!