It’s that time of year again, folks. Everywhere you turn, the aisles are overrun by pink and red furry friends and heart-shaped candies ready to start stimulating conversations. TV is a man’s best friend and nightmare all rolled into one commercial break– spanning from a myriad of lingerie-clad centerfolds on display plummeting to a hold-on-to-your-wallet tennis bracelet and matching diamond earrings guilt trip. That’s right, it can be none other than… Valentine’s Day!
I can still hear my grandparents debating over this love-addicted holiday. My grandfather would begrudgingly say, “Why do we celebrate this holiday anyway?” While my grandmother would always comment back, “It’s one of those Hallmark made-up holidays, dear.” And each year she’d get her expected Russell Stovers and card and genuinely be delighted. Those were simpler times.
Advertisers today bank on this “Hallmark” holiday praying (and yes, sometimes preying) on those to get their loved ones extravagant gifts to show their affection. The jewelry companies compete for airtime like it’s a political convention going on. My kids prance around the house singing, “Every Kiss belongs with Kay.” not even knowing what they’re even singing about since we don’t even have a Kay Jewelers anywhere near us. I have to admit though, that tune is darn catchy.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, the ladies have it WAY too easy in the gift-giving department. We can basically go into any Victoria’s Secret store blindfolded and outside of it being beige, grab just about anything see-through, lacy or black and it will be a total hit. And if it’s all of the above… well, let’s not even go there. That store has branding (brainwashing?) down to a tee. Valentine’s Day gifts for men = VS. Done and done.
Now for men, that’s a whole other story. This is where the big ad bucks come into play. Advertisers play into men’s guilt to buy their ladies something special, but they’re equally smart to target women who give those oh-so-subtle hints leading up to the big candy-encrusted day.
Let’s break it down into 5 main classifications correlating the effect ads have on the type of Valentine’s gift-giver you are.
1. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend- AKA THE SUCKER
Your partner sees an ad and nudges you on the couch. She rips out ads in her favorite magazines and leaves them on the counter, in the bathroom and on the front seat of your car. And if she’s super sneaky, she’s tapped into your laptop and looked at every high end jewelry store known to mankind so now the only pop up ad you see are the sparkly ones. No doubt about it, she wants a gift and you better make it big. Especially after last year’s debacle. How big? A box of chocolates simply won’t cut it. You get the three-carat diamond earrings. The sales guy saw you coming from a mile away and he can’t wait for next year.
2. Everyone loves appliances, right?- AKA THE FAMILY MAN
Ok, no matter how much your lady likes the way something slices, dices, mixes, toasts or brews, Valentine’s Day is neither the time nor the holiday. Trust me. Waffle irons are NOT sexy, not even when they make heart- shaped waffles.
3. A rose by any other name- AKA THE CLASSIC ROMANTIC
You can never go wrong with flowers. Unless of course, you get them on the way home from the grocery store because your buddy had to remind you it was Valentine’s Day, so you grabbed the last dye-injected “bouquet” of tie-dyed carnations. Not cool, dudes. Not cool. In this case, it’s almost more charming to pick flowers in your neighbor’s garden. Heads up: ProFlowers– they advertise everywhere. Duh! And remember those hilarious FTD ads putting couples in the hot seat instead of the love seat? Save yourself! Think ahead.
4. Who doesn’t love lace?- AKA IT’S ALL ABOUT ME
Ok, we already covered this one, but let’s review. Victoria’s Secret has done a fabulous job equating Valentine’s Day to their brand. And as I went over before, it’s a no brainer for women to go and make VS their go-to present for their partner. When men give this as their only present though, it can sometimes come off as selfish. And often does. It says “Please ME.” There are exceptions to this however. For instance, if the couple is newly dating, I’m going to give this a pass. If you’re married and your honey has birthed some children for you though, this can get into tricky waters, especially if you’ve never given lingerie before. What could seem like an innocent trip to the store could turn into hours of accusation. How did you know the saleswoman would pick out the raciest red thong in a size XS? And why exactly was that a bad thing? It looks so good on the models on tv, right? Well, if you are usually “THE FAMILY MAN” type of giver—red lacy thongs stick out like well, red, lacy thongs. Better bet: Nice dinner and flowers. Trust me.
5. Life is a box of chocolates – AKA THE CHEAP BASTARD
To be fair, this has a big spectrum. We’re not talking about the really nice sea-salted, high-end chocolates from Europe here, we’re talking about the kind you pick up on your way home from work at the drug store with some super cheesy Bee Mine and felt bumble bee attached. Come on now. Millions of media dollars are being thrown at us. Pay these poor people some respect, not to mention your honey who has to endure these waxy-coated creations. If you’re totally stumped, tons of ideas are generated every commercial break by creative geniuses. Show your partner you care. You have until Sunday. Good luck.
As for me, I’ll most likely be watching the highly-anticipated chick flick How to be Single. Given that I don’t have a date on the biggest date night of the year, I figured I’d learn from the best, Fat Amy, on how to do it right. Haha.
About the Author:
Senior Director of Marketing | Evangelist at Shocase. Debra is a writer, single mom, workout queen, college sports fan- GO GATORS!, active participant in charity organizations and has been known to cut a rug on the dance floor with her friends.