Valentine’s Day is an enigma of a holiday. Its origins are not widely known, but it is often celebrated by couples and scorned by singles. Since Valentine’s Day is a secular holiday, people of all races, religions, and ethnicities share in the tradition of celebrating love. However, Valentine’s Day can be a divisive topic as well. We all know that person who exclaims “it’s a Hallmark holiday”. Valentine’s Day wasn’t always the marketing extravaganza that it is today. But how exactly did Valentine’s Day begin and how has marketing shaped it throughout the years?
The Origins of Valentine’s Day
Despite rumors that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, the celebration actually has ancient roots. It began in Rome, circa 300 B.C. as a feast known as Lupercalia that was celebrated the 13th to 15th of February. Sometime around 500 A.D., Lupercalia was replaced by the celebration of the martyr St. Valentine. Who Valentine was is still a mystery, but there are several legends associated with him, all in connection to love and marriage.
Fast forward to 1415, the first Valentine’s Day card was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, leading to the Valentine’s Day card custom. But it wasn’t until the dawn of advertising in the mid 19th century that launched the escalation of the holiday of love into its current state. During the 1800’s the industrial revolution could have forced Valentine’s Day into the history books, but a wave of advertising campaigns promoted gifts and cards centered around the holiday. Newspapers and magazines ran advertisements endorsing Valentine’s Day, businesses began selling targeted candies and chocolates, and Valentine’s Day cards were mass produced. The continued rise of advertising and marketing in the 1900s led to an even bigger boom for Valentine’s Day.
The Use of Marketing to Maximize Valentine’s Day Sales
As you can see, chocolates and cards have very little to do with the actual origins of Valentine’s Day, but the use of marketing has shaped the holiday into an significant sales opportunity, one where 145 million cards are exchanged and countless orders of flowers are placed. Tiffany and Co., The Hershey Company, Flowers.com, and, yes, Hallmark, all spend millions on advertising and marketing to net billions in return. Their use of marketing made items like chocolates, flowers, and jewelry synonymous with Valentine’s Day. But these are not the only companies taking advantage of this marketing opportunity. Even unlikely contenders like Dunkin’ Donuts and T-Mobile have done extensive Valentine’s Day marketing that gained viral attention on social media resulting in increased brand awareness. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Valentine’s Day may have become irrelevant without the persistence of marketing campaigns.
This is just one example of how marketing is woven into the fabric of our lives. The power of a good marketing campaign cannot be discounted when it comes to selling your product or service. It can create demand that wasn’t there before and play a role in shaping audience behavior.
At Cutwing Marketing we enjoy looking at the ways that marketing is used and how it affects trends and buying behavior. Each business is unique with its own personality and voice. This should be reflected in its marketing to set the business apart from the competition. For more information on marketing services from Cutwing Marketing visit our website and make sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.