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  • March 1, 2008

Season Finale: Valentine’s Day 2008

A look back on seasonal trends, email activity and standout B2C marketing:

Start to finish: The first reference to Valentine’s Day was on Jan. 8 from Oriental Trading. The final reference was on Feb. 19 from 1-800-Flowers.com

The distribution curve: The biggest days for Valentine’s Day emails were Wednesday, Jan. 30, followed by Sunday, Feb. 10, followed by Monday, Feb. 11. Retailers sent the majority of Valentine’s Day-themed emails after Feb. 2.

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Most interesting email: In this Jan. 31 email with the subject line “Chad, Final Weekend For Free Shipping + The Challenge Of Valentine's Day,” Northern Tool burnishes their image as a manly man’s retailer, empathizing with men’s difficulty in choosing Valentine’s Day gifts by poking fun at the inappropriateness of shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts at Northern Tool. It’s an inventive and funny way of presenting products in a non-salesy way. Northern Tool ran a similar by different Valentine’s Day campaign last year that’s also worth a look (see Feb. 2, 2007 AM Inbox).

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Unpleasant surprises: In a Feb. 6 email with the subject line Enter the Game-O-Love and win your Valentine prizes!,” 1-800-Flowers emails their subscribers on behalf of Overstock—which would have been fine, I guess, but they didn’t include any wording about how this was a deal from their partner. So it was confusing to be getting an Overstock email from 1-800-Flowers. That said, the idea behind the email was really interesting. Overstock was running a wish list contest similar to what Old Navy did a couple of months ago (see Nov. 20 AM Inbox), which is cool because it encourages exploration of Overstock’s offerings. However, their twist was that they tied the contest to the scores on their Game-O-Love video game. The unpleasant surprise here is that the game has horrible controls and is practically unplayable. It’s a really interesting idea, but the execution needed some serious reworking.

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Blair’s Cupid’s Concentration was a safer, more familiar (and more fun) game choice, although it lacked the competition and wish list aspects and therefore was not nearly as deep (see Feb. 15 AM Inbox). You just matched up the cards (taking as many chances as you need) and when you’re done you get a 20%-off coupon.

Email 2.0 angle: They didn’t play it up that much in their emails but 1-800-Flowers mentioned on at least two occasions their video contests, which they’re running through YouTube. Here is winner of their “Will you marry me?” contest, where they solicited video proposals. The other contest that they ran concurrently was their “Video Valentine,” where you film your “greatest love story ever.”

Standout subject lines:
Frederick’s of Hollywood, 1/30 — Be a curvy cupid & get free shipping on $75 orders.
Drugstore.com, 1/30 — Love savings? Up to 40% off flowers, chocolates and more in our Valentine's Day sale
JCPenney, 2/1 — Today's the Day for True Love (And Free Shipping)


Subject lines that stand out for the wrong reasons:
1-800-Flowers, 2/13 — I値l send a Valentine when dogs grow wings...
1-800-Flowers, 2/12 — Save $10 + we値l hand-deliver your Valentines Flowers!

Yep, those are Chinese characters in the subject lines. Bizarre.

Read previous Valentine’s Day Season Finales: 2007

Read previous posts about Valentine’s Day emails.
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