Sending love virtually: Brands push campaigns spreading love this Valentine's Day

Besides having its spotlight being overshadowed by Chinese New Year festivities, Valentine's Day this year is also unlike previous ones, with the ongoing pandemic. With more consumers staying indoors and the continued uptake of online adoption, brands are also putting little virtual twists into their marketing campaigns. 

During the pandemic, consumers in Asia were forced to make gift-giving as their top love language as data reveals a 57% increase in Google searches on romantic gifts. According to iPrice Group, there is an increase in online interest in romantic gifts and the rise of new dating apps in select Asian countries.  iPrice observed certain Asian countries’ Google searches on romantic gifts, namely in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. Comparing 2019 with 2020, there was a 57% increase in searches on romantic gifts during the pandemic.

iPrice categorised “romantic gifts” into different keywords. Care packages recorded to have the biggest surge in searches, reaching 238%. Data confirms that consumers in Asia have been into the whole fad of looking for care packages to send to their beloveds. Scented candles also had a 236% surge in Google searches in 2020. This may either be a romantic gift or a self-love purchase as people spend more time unwinding indoors. Similarly, lingerie, an item that can be given to a lover or self, has also had an increase of 82% in search volume.

The more obvious romantic gifts, such as roses and flowers, experienced an immense increase of 123% and 83% respectively. Meanwhile, chocolates and bouquets increased by 50% and 49% respectively.

That said, the dating landscape itself has changed so much as the virus limits singles to meet people online and go on virtual dates. iPrice Group observed an increase in keyword results (between February 2020 and January 2021) in relation to each country’s top five dating apps. Hence, more dating apps have been emerging lately. Interestingly, Taiwan takes the top spot with a surge of 194% of dating apps. The trend is followed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore with the most increase in keyword results on dating apps in the App Store.

They say that courtship has changed so much over the years. Well, with a pandemic, it definitely had once again. Perhaps this could have a long-lasting and distinct effect on couples that emerged and coexisted during the pandemic. Only time can tell. In the meantime, one thing is for sure: Valentine’s Day will be celebrated with the help of the Internet. And the pandemic-tweaked Valentine's Day campaigns don't stop. Here are some other brand campaigns the team at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw:

Durex

Dubbing the day as "international condom day", Durex has provided a condom that fits all personalities and horoscopes on its Instagram page. According to the brand, if consumers found the right match this Valentine's Day, it is "time to find the perfect fit" too. Later in the day, Durex also sent a Valentine's Day greeting with, you guessed it, a condom. 

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IKEA

Known for its tongue-in-cheek social media posts, furniture retailer IKEA Singapore did a plug on its dimmer kit this Valentine's Day, ensuring consumers that it is "the easiest thing you can turn on this Valentine's Day". It added with a cheeky caption that said "there's one less thing to worry about tonight". IKEA's post sent many consumers in a laughing fit, with many reacting with a laughing emoji in its comments section.

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Lego

Lego, a brand commonly associated with children, created a Valentine's Day spot which showed that its products can be used to ignite a romantic sparks among adults as well. Titled "LEGO First Dates", the brand got six strangers to go on a first date, where they built Lego sets as a bonding activity. The participants then revealed through the narrative of the ad that first dates can be difficult, especially when both parties have nothing much to talk about. The activity of building the Lego set then seemingly helps to break the ice and facilitate the dates better.    

FairPrice 

The supermarket brand came up with some pick-up lines in the form of Instagram stories, to help you level up in your romance game. According to FairPrice, there is no better way than to "express your affection" by saying it with a pun. The brand looks to engage consumers by encouraging them to take a screenshot of the pick-up lines and tag their partners.

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Winston Tay, head of social for FairPrice Group, said: “Valentine’s Day is happening right in the middle of the Lunar New Year festivities, so what better way to celebrate both occasions than with Chinese New Year pick-up lines that everyone can share on social. Whether you’re lovers, friends or somewhere in between, it’s a fun way to send a quick, witty message to that special someone and put a smile on their face.”

PIXERF

Knowing the pandemic has changed everything for both singles and couples in Singapore, PIXERF has launched a social media campaign titled "#PandemicRomance". The campaign is fronted with a series of posts on the brand's Facebook and Instagram channels, which pokes fun at the new woes and routines of being a couple in the age of the pandemic.

The posts featured rhyming "poems" that are peppered with local references and colloquialisms, while painting relatable romantic scenarios, from a couple pining for a cozy reunion at the end of Malaysia’s MCO period, to someone secretly crushing on a co-worker seen only during virtual Zoom meetings. The brand also tapped on the creativity and talent of its photography community by featuring the work of PIXERF creators as part of the greeting card visuals.

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Sa’ad Hussein, chief marketing officer at PIXERF, said the campaign is an invitation to look at the brighter side of things, even during challenging times. "By using the work of our photography community, we also want to show the connection between the language of love and the language of visual content." he added. 

Sentosa

While some brands took a virtual turn for its Valentine's Day campaigns, Sentosa teamed up with its creative agency BBH Singapore and botanical design studio, This Humid House, to make the festive occasion a sustainable one. Sentosa created an exclusive range of "Eco Bouquets", which are said to be sourced from flora and blooms that have been cultivated at its own nursery and gardens, as part of its environmental landscaping efforts. A total of 40 bouquets were also put up for grabs through a contest launched on Sentosa’s Facebook and Instagram channels.

Each Eco Bouquet is wrapped in recycled craft paper and comes with a gift tag that outlines the locations the bouquets are sourced from Sentosa. This encourages guests to discover Sentosa for themselves on their next visit. According to Mira Bharin, divisional director for marketing and guest experience at Sentosa Development Corporation, the initiative aims to showcase the diverse plants and flowers that can be found on Sentosa, and gives its guests a chance to win an Eco Bouquet and celebrate Valentine’s Day in a sustainable manner.

Sentosa's Valentine's Day initiative came as it observed thousands of bouquets being exchanged in Singapore each year for Valentine’s Day, with many imported from all over the world. These bouquets contribute to greenhouse gas emissions due to their air freight, Sentosa said, and it looks to cut down on these emissions by promoting locally-sourced bouquets through its initiative.

MSIG Singapore

Meanwhile, insurance company MSIG Singapore took the idea of "falling in love" this Valentine's Day to promote its accident coverage on social media. The brand also slid in a reference from Netflix's series "Love Island", where one of the contestants literally fell after her heel got caught in the deck.  

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Did you see more Valentine's Day campaigns from brands in Southeast Asia? Let us know at graceo@marketing-interactive.com

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