3 marketing lessons from wacky Valentine’s Day brand efforts

McDonald’s, Wingstop, Food Network and more are hoping to win consumers’ hearts leading up to Feb. 14—and they’re pulling out all the stops.

Love is in the air, but do these brand managers have Cupid’s arrows?

Many PR and marketing pros hop on the bandwagon to do something special for holiday seasons, and Valentine’s Day isn’t proving to be any different—even for brands that you might not think are so romantic.

Here are three takeaways from these unique PR and marketing stunts:

1. McDonald’s bling ring: Generate online content (and buzz).

McDonald’s promises the garish piece of jewelry is the “only real, gratuitously encrusted diamond ring specifically designed to show just how big your Big Mac love is”—but only the consumer who adequately pledges his or her love to the fast-food chain’s burger will get “a ring on it.”

To enter the contest for a chance to win the $12,500 ring, consumers must tweet @McDonalds with their best and funniest professions of love, followed by the hashtag #BlingMacContest.

Consumers should bring their “A” game, however. They’re competing against tweets such as this:

CTV News reported:

The publicity stunt is to promote the three sizes of Big Macs (Mac Jr., Big Mac and Grand Big Mac) ahead of Valentine’s Day.

It’s not the first time McDonald’s has gone into the jewelry business.

Last year, Welsh fashion designer Julien Macdonald redesigned the chain’s packaging with baroque-style, black and white sandwich boxes studded with rhinestones as part of the UK’s launch of ‘luxury’ premium burgers.

With Wendy’s garnering so much Twitter (and journalist) love in the aftermath of a consumer begging for nuggets online, McDonald’s probably wanted in on the action. For PR and marketing pros looking to take advantage of consumer-generated content online, aim to embrace humor—and go big, or go home.

2. Wingstop hotline: Give consumers something extra.

In the vein of Butterball’s Turkey Hotline, Wingstop opened a hotline to help guide your romantic gestures for Valentine’s Day. The hotline opened on Feb. 5 and will remain available through Feb. 14.

In a press release, the company said:

… [T]he Wingstop WING LUV hotline offers five romantic options to take your wing fling to the next level, including:

· Valentine’s night pro tips, Press 1.

· A vocal warm up routine, Press 2.

· Wing presentation advice, Press 3.

· Exclusive access to the Valentine’s mixtape, Press 4.

· Just listen to your hotline rep talk saucy to you for a while, Press 5.

Wingstop is also offering consumers a “WING LUV” kit, which can be ordered through the hotline and includes skewers to make hot-wing “roses,” tissue paper, ribbon cellophane and a $25 gift card to its restaurants:

For consumers dating someone who values hot wings over chocolate and roses, the kitschy kit might get some smiles. However, more consumers are probably going to call the hotline out of amusement, which should get them talking about the product (if not thinking about making an order).

The lesson here is that communicators don’t have to make things complicated or blow through a budget to offer value to audiences. Inject humor and some helpful advice, and voilà: You’ve got yourself a winning campaign.

3. 1-800-Flowers, Food Network, Fandango and iHeartRadio: Make engagement easy.

1-800-Flowers and Fandango are helping the shopping process go even more smoothly by offering products through Facebook Messenger chatbots. Fandango is sweetening the deal by giving a $2 discount to consumers who purchase two or more tickets using the bot.

However, you don’t have to sell a product to employ social media automation and boost your brand online.

Mobile Marketer reported:

Food Network’s bot for Messenger includes a “Surprise Me!” notification to provide people with tips, recipes and inspiration for a romantic meal. The brand is also updating its Meal Match feature — a game that lets people in a group chat vote which meals they like best — to include Valentine’s Day-themed dishes. IHeartRadio’s bot lets listeners play a variety of Valentines-themed stations like “Slow Jams Radio” and “Love Songs Radio,” which will be hosted by singer Kelly Clarkson until Feb. 18.

Consider that many consumers are looking to interact with brands online—provided those engagements are helpful.

By using tools such as chatbots, you’re enabling consumers to purchase goods in a streamlined manner—or you’re offering valuable information/services that people can access anytime. These tools don’t call for your social media team to be up around the clock, either.

What are you doing to talk about Valentine’s Day, PR Daily readers?

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