5 Brands That Are Killing It With Content This Valentine’s Day

By Aaron Taube February 11th, 2015

Valentine’s Day is fast upon us, which means two things are at the top of Americans’ minds right now: love and commerce.

While that may sound crass, there is no denying that Cupid’s arrow will inspire more than a few mid-winter spending sprees this week.

For proof, look no further than the National Retail Federation, which estimates that Americans will spend just shy of $19 billion on Valentine’s Day-related items this year. For those of you scoring at home, that equates to roughly 2.4 billion pounds of candy hearts or 540 million bouquets of roses.

Of course, florists and candy companies aren’t the only ones hoping to woo prospective customers this February. Major brands like Audi and Hallmark have rolled out impressive content marketing campaigns to create goodwill with potential customers as they search for the perfect gift for that special someone.

Here are five brands whose Valentine’s Day content has us googly-eyed.

Fifty Shades of Grey

The film version of E. L. James’s bestselling erotic thriller arrives in theaters on Valentine’s Day, but Universal Pictures has spent months building anticipation for the movie.

The studio released the first still from the film on Twitter in June, and teased the official trailer in July with a short video that debuted on Beyoncé’s Instagram feed (a remix of her hit song “Crazy in Love” is the highlight of the film’s soundtrack). When the official trailer was finally released to YouTube, it became for a short time the most-viewed trailer in the video-sharing site’s history.

Now, Universal is using an interactive website to build excitement among fans of the book and help those fans plan outings based around seeing the film. The content on the site includes stills from the movie and a virtual tour of Christian Grey’s apartment.

Just as important, Universal Studios has integrated calls to action into the site that allow fans to share their “ladies’ night out” plans for seeing the movie, purchase tickets via Fandango, or make a dinner reservation via OpenTable if they are planning to see Fifty Shades of Grey as part of a date night with a significant other.


Though Audi at first glance may not seem like a natural fit for a Fifty Shades of Greytie-in, fans of the book know that the domineering Christian Grey purchases an Audi A3 for each of his submissive girlfriends, including protagonist Anastasia Steele.

In order to capitalize on this unplanned product placement, Audi enlisted Saturday Night Live star Vanessa Bayer to make a very funny branded video, in which Bayer awkwardly hits on strangers in an elevator—a reference to a steamy scene in the book—in hopes of being gifted an Audi of her own.

Audi has been promoting the video heavily on Twitter:


You know Fifty Shades of Grey has been successful promoting itself when even completely unaffiliated brands are basing their Valentine’s Day campaigns around the movie’s release.

The condom brand Durex has created a microsite entitled “#50GamesToPlay” that pushes the idea that reality is more exciting than fiction. The site offers visitors 50 bedroom activities they can use to spice up their sex lives, smartly positioning itself as a brand associated with fun, adventurous intimacy.

The site also hosts a funny video parody of the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer, in which a man and a woman put down the books they’re reading in bed and go for something with a little more action.

The video has now been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube.


Hot and spicy isn’t the only way to market yourself on Valentine’s Day, and a Fifty Shades of Grey-themed campaign certainly wouldn’t be right for normally wholesome Hallmark.

Instead, the greeting card company opted for a series of touching branded videos focused on the theme of romantic love.

In them, Hallmark asks people to describe their relationships without using the word “love.” Then, the couple is shown how their partners described them as everyone in the room chokes up, an on-screen message encouraging viewers to say something more creative than “I love you” this Valentine’s Day.

This video, featuring an older couple, has more than a million YouTube views.


Luxury jeweler Tiffany and Co. wanted to reach a very specific audience this February: the trendy readers of New York magazine’s female-oriented fashion blog, The Cut.

To do this, it launched a sponsored campaign in which The Cut created an interactive calendar with 14 gift suggestions, several of which are Tiffany products.

The calendar shows up as a sponsored link on The Cut’s homepage, and readers who haven’t found what they’re looking for can tweet New York magazine’s @NYFYI Twitter handle for additional suggestions.

The most common suggestions, seemingly, will be Fifty Shades of Grey-themed.

Image by Zoltan Kiraly/Shutterstock: handcuffs; Michael Selivanov/Shutterstock: logos
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