You have $103 to spend. What Valentine's Day gifts will you buy?

Posted on Fri Feb 12 2010


For those who try to put a price on love—and, of course, some marketer always does—we've got some heartbreaking news: Consumer spending on Valentine's Day is drooping like a week-old carnation. From a high of more than $17 billion in 2008, Romeos suffered some serious cold feet in 2009, spending only $14.7 billion, and are expected to spend still less this year—about $14.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. If you're curious, that translates to about $103 per person. And where's most of that money end up? You guessed it: Chocolates and flowers. NRF's research also shows that posies and candy account for nearly 83 percent of the merch bought for Cupid's day. So, we decided to play Don Juan and see what kind of stuff $103 will buy our dearest ones this year.

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When is the earliest acceptable time for Valentine's Day ads?

Posted on Mon Jan 4 2010

We're used to seeing Christmas ads beginning in August or even July, but what about a pre-Christmas buildup for Valentine's Day? Ellen Davis, a vp at the National Retail Federation, says she saw Valentine's displays at Joann, the fabrics retail chain, a week before Christmas this year. Meanwhile, CVS, for one, has apparently been promoting Valentine's Day since Dec. 26, and Mars introduced a Valentine's Day campaign for M&Ms on Dec. 20. Usually, Valentine's Day promotions don't start until mid-January at the earliest. Why all the love for a holiday two months in advance? Davis credits improved supply-chain technology, which ensures that retailers clear out their Christmas inventory before Dec. 25. "If you're a retailer, it's better to have something on the shelf than nothing," Davis says, adding that people who come into the stores to buy Christmas presents might come back to buy Valentine's Day items. Valentine's Day, by the way, is the biggest retail holiday next to Christmas, with $14.7 billion in sales in 2009. (Halloween only nets around $5 billion.) Easter is also big, which is why Davis expects a quick turnaround after, or even perhaps before, Feb. 14. "Don't be surprised if you see Easter merchandise on the shelves right after Valentine's Day," she says.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Can an 'erotic' energy drink bring romance back from the dead?

Posted on Fri Feb 13 2009


For the past five years, the PR firm Porter Novelli has been asking people if they would describe themselves as romantic. The answer this year: No, not really. Slightly more than one-third of men polled (36 percent) described themselves as romantic, compared to 42 percent of women. The inclination toward being romantic appears to decrease with age. While more than half of millennials held onto ideals such as true love, romance, rose-petal parades and pink champagne, that number dropped off significantly for all of the other generations, presumably because they are tired, bored, lazy or "emotionally unavailable" after getting their hearts broken too many times and/or being overmedicated by their physicians. Fortunately there is a solution: Red Light Energy Elixir. This new "exotic and erotic" drink "inspires passion," according to the company's press release. How does it accomplish this? Well, it's red, which is the sexiest color (per a random poll), and it includes schizandra berry (which may increase libido, stamina and balance). Problem solved. Happy Valentine's Day.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

The perfect Valentine's Day gift for that very naughty preschooler

Posted on Wed Feb 11 2009

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Oh, the things you find in the Valentine's Day section of your local Rite Aid while bored and waiting for that prescription to refill. I have a few burning questions:
  1. When did Rite-Aid break into the "naughty" novelties business?
  2. The packaging says "For Ages 3 and Up." At which preschool, exactly, is bondage and discipline all the rage?
  3. Also, WWJBD? We highly doubt Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas are "Burnin' Up" to snap these bracelets on and accessorize with their precious purity rings. However, you can buy their Camp Rock "Be My Valentine" cards right down the aisle.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

The ugliest, most awesome Valentine's Day ad you've ever seen

Posted on Tue Feb 10 2009

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What to buy that special someone for Valentine's Day? Some people don't have a clue. And these days, they don't have much scratch for pricey goodies. That's where the 99 Cents Only stores come in. Their homemade ads, now running in newspapers in California, Nevada and Arizona, tell would-be Romeos what to buy—and just as important, what not to buy!—for their sweeties. Chocolate rose, adorable stuffed monkey, skimpy undies and whipped cream? Yes! Broom, pregnancy test, douche and anti-fungal cream? No!
  See the "good choice, bad choice" newspaper ad in all its glory here. It's become an annual event for the L.A.-based deep discounter, and the chain's fans often send in e-mail requests for copies. Buyers, PR and marketing executives get together to pick the items that will be featured. "We think everybody could use a laugh right now, so we tried to make it as humorous as possible," says Diana DeLoza, the chain's marketing manager. "That's why we included the Itchy Feet cream. Even the name of the product is funny."
  The chain, which made news last year for mulling a price hike, has remained true to its branding, but has bumped up to 99.99 cents on some items. Still, that's a lovely bargain.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Trojan knows what she wants for Valentine's Day: gonorrhea

Posted on Mon Feb 9 2009

Selling condoms is no easy task. In fact, Trojan research revealed that the product's image ranges from bad (people see them as dirty) to worse (guys said they ruin "the act"). So, Trojan decided to put a positive spin on condoms with its "Evolve" campaign, created by the Kaplan Thaler Group, in which the prophylactics are positioned as something women welcome and are attracted to.
  For Valentine's Day, Trojan decided to put a sarcastic spin on its brand message. The ad posted here shows a girl who's thrilled to receive a sexually transmitted disease. Her boyfriend chose gonorrhea because "you know, herpes you can't return." Upon receiving the "gift," his delighted partner chirps, "Wait 'til I show my mom!" Thus proving the point—that dirty condoms that interrupt the act are better than the alternative.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

If Willy Wonka designed a hotel suite, it would look a lot like this

Posted on Tue Jan 27 2009

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A candelabra made of chocolate. Furniture made of chocolate. A chess set made of chocolate. This is all part of the Godiva Decadence Suite. And one lucky couple will get to stay there as part of the Godiva's 2009 Valentine's Day promotion. A suite at the Bryant Park Hotel in New York will be transformed into a chocolate oasis for one weekend only. The chocolate-crafted designs from renowned interior designer Jonathon Adler even include a chocolate headboard. A chocolate mint left on the pillowcase at night by the waitstaff just won't have the same effect in this place.

—Posted by Kenneth Hein



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