By Cordelia Bell
Roman holiday or consumerism driven nightmare? Valentine’s Day is both. The holiday originated in Rome to celebrate the fertility god Faunus but was renamed a Christian feast day by Pope Gelasius. However, the Valentine’s Day we celebrate now is drastically different than either of these holidays. This is in part due to the role consumerism and branding play in this holiday. People give their significant others gifts and tokens of affection. One of the primary branding techniques is ‘guilting’. Typically, commercials depict one significant other giving the wrong or inadequate gift to the other. He or she realizes the error gives the ‘perfect’ gift, the product being sold in the commercial. This branding style is found in a large quantity of Valentine’s commercials. These commercials are effective because create a parallel between love and their product. They imply that purchasing their products is the ultimate test of love, which will result in the perfect Valentine’s day. The commercial below implements the aforementioned branding technique.
Valentine’s day is different than a lot of holidays because it is geared towards an older audience. Unlike Christmas and Easter, children play a minimal role in the gift buying process, so commercials can have a more adult tone. While there are some humorous and playful commercials, brands can use more serious or sexual material in their advertisements. The following commercial is for Durex, which makes allusions to the Fifty Shades of Gray franchise. The tone is much more sexual and serious than other holiday advertisements.
Valentine’s branding is unique because companies are selling their products to a different clientele–adults. This coupled with the consumerist nature of Valentine’s day means that commercials rely on guilt and adult themes (sexual or romantic).