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Valentine’s Day PR: The Good, The Bad & The Cheesy

Valentine’s Day. That time of year when some brands go all out to champion love, relationships and general cheesiness. This year, our Group Director of Consumer, Alan Twigg, shares his thoughts on 2017’s Valentine’s Day PR campaigns…

I like Valentine’s Day – for the simple reason that I can dig the cheese meter out of the cupboard under the sink to check out the brands that often stoop painfully low in patronising us with their ever so witty ideas.

Talking of cheese, the pizza companies have chucked the full pepperoni at it as usual, this year. Pizza Express have a very straight, forced and frankly dull story on matching people in love by their choice of pizza toppings. Yikes, I’m not sure that brainstorm was given enough time!

Image: Pizza Express / Facebook


Domino’s unveiled their Wedding Registry in the US where couples can sign up or be signed up by family and friends for a special delivery around their big day. There is indeed an OK idea lurking in there, but a bit like that first slice from the box – it’s just a bit limp.

Image: KFC Canada / YouTube


KFC Canada’s ChickenGram promotion on the other hand has more legs …. by way of a special heart shaped bucket of moist breast (steady there!) with the choice of three different romantic poems on the lid. This one got me quite excited until I read the verse. Make your own mind up and do think about your other half or potential Valentine reading it out amidst a greasy lipped moment of pleasure later tonight:

Chocolates and Candies can be pretty nice

And tulips and roses will also suffice

But the Colonel’s bucket means so much more

When its Original Recipe you truly adore

Whenever I’m with you my heart starts to quicken

I love you as much as KFC chicken

I know it’s a finger lickin, tongue-in-cheek piece, but it’s stilted and uncomfortable and just not funny enough, but maybe it works for a US audience? I also wonder how very tempted they must have been to put their trademark icon against the words ‘Original Recipe.’ Check out the slightly alarming video where a finger gently caresses the chicken skins with an ice cube. I need a shower!

Image: BuzzmanTV / YouTube


So much better for much less effort is rival Burger King France this year, who simply knocked a second hole in their Coke cups for sharing. Cute!

Poundland have garnered a lot of coverage for their meal for two for under £10 including tinned meatballs on a bed of Pot Noodle. Most of the editorial is basically taking the piss and it does make you wonder whether it is coverage for coverage’s sake here and whether it does anything positive for the brand? I don’t buy the “just being talked about is better than not” theory in case you wondered?

Image: Poundland / Twitter


A lot of food brands have been er…hard at it this year and I’m a bit tired of …the most expensive this and the diamond encrusted that, so a heart-shaped rustique baguette from Paul is a little more palatable for its simplicity.

The egg custard boob from Bao London is slightly creepy and I’m certainly not looking forward to the male version of the dish next year.

Image: Bao London / Instagram


That brings me to the £30 Mr Kipling Bou-Cake. I like the idea of a play on a floral bouquet and I was almost going with its sweet little bakewell tarts and fondant fancies dotted around the pretty blooms and foliage, until I spotted chunks of Battenburg – an utterly pointless cake and thus my bubble was burst on this one.

Image: Mr Kipling Cakes / Twitter


Ironically, this morning I read that Ann Summers is closing down in Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street next week and only last week I read that Agent Provocateur is effectively up for auction with La Senza’s former owners Lion Capital leading the running for the ailing  business. What is happening to the love toy game?  On the… er hem… up side, check out Coco De Mer’s latest offering from Rankin and Pamela Anderson.

Here, our hero is preparing for the big romantic night with sweet music on the turntable, scattering petals on the bed, adorning herself in gorgeous lingerie only for us all to find she’s planning a night in with her battery operated plaything. It made me smile and it does send quite a strong message about love and pleasure meaning different things whether you are partnered or single, but I’m not sure it needed the end line… By the way, the soundtrack is to die for – the 1910 Friedman and Slater Let Me Call You Sweetheart.

Image: NHS Organ Donation / YouTube


But my favourite effort his year is from the NHS Blood and Transplant service who have launched a campaign aiming to raise awareness of the dire need for more kidney donation in the UK. Set in a working men’s club on Valentine’s night, the loved up audience thinks it’s getting a romantic song from the talent, but then gets a tortured song about giving a stranger one of your kidneys. My favourite part of the lyric goes like this:

The heart’s a gift to show the love you’re in

But the kidney is the gift of actual urine

If you’re really honest with me

What’s better? Love or a morning wee?

It’s brave, it’s fun and it changes the language and tonality around this serious topic. 5,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney in the UK and we are all walking about with one we could spare.  Less than half (48%) of adults surveyed recently by NHS Blood and Transplant were aware of living kidney donation. However, when they were subsequently asked whether they would consider becoming a kidney donor, the majority (61%) said they would.

Perhaps they are right…. true love is not always heart shaped – it could be kidney shaped.

Here’s a link to register your interest and learn more: or call 0300 123 23 23.

And Happy Valentine’s Day.

Written by Way To Blue
February 14, 2017