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Derived from a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day has over time become a major manifestation of love and romance. It has garnered significance personally as well as commercially. As we discussed in our article previously, in attempting to capitalise on Valentine’s Day uniquely every year, brands expand the existing symbolism associated with the day. Let's have a look at this year’s campaigns and trends that they represent: 

Lay’s “Take it Light” campaign

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Lay’s tries to keep the mood light-hearted with help of short videos by Brand ambassadors and influencers. Videos by Lay’s subvert the over-the-top importance that we tend to attach with Valentine’s Day. They depict the famous game “they love me/they love me not” but end it with “who cares?” 

Thus the content by Lay’s is centred around focusing on oneself. It aligns nicely with the brand and the product as their wafer style chips have been advertised as “light”. 

In our article last year, we had discussed how the idea of love is no more limited to love shared by a young heteronormative couple. It has now been expanded on couples with same-sex, couples with age-gap or senior couples. Love has also been defined outside the boundaries of a couple as in love for one’s pets or plants or platonic love. Self-love has emerged as a major domain of love with many pop-cult shows portraying ‘treat yourself’ days or the protagonists buying themselves something nice. Self-love in Valentine’s Day campaigns is expressed through acceptance and cherishing of one’s singlehood. For instance: 

“Single, Single” by Cadbury 5 Star and Viacom18

The short song sung by Nikita Gandhi, ‘Single Single’ ridicules the trend of vouchers, discounts and the whole paraphernalia offered by brands on Valentine’s Day. It instead goes for what has been Cadbury 5 Star’s ethos for a very long time now - inactivity that is doing nothing. The song thus is part of an emerging code that celebrates exceptions to the norm. 

That 5 star takes its mission of saving singles from the pressure and expectations of V-Day rather seriously is visible in their ‘Valentine’s Day Alibi’: 

The fun video begins with shots of what it defines as a ‘cringy’ display of love and affection that reaches its peak on February 14th. However, 5 Star does not stop just at ridiculing, they offer their consumers an escape to a far-flung island near Goa which has been specifically named ‘My Cousin’s Wedding’. Henceforth, the perfect alibi for the questions on plans for Valentine’s Day! 

The vocabulary around singlehood once dominated by self-pity, sadness and loneliness has been replaced with self-love and coolness. 

While the celebration of oneself regardless of relationship status is definitely a fun and emerging trend, Valentine’s Day to a large extent is still about couples. What are some of the newer takes in that direction? 

Uncomfortable Qs to Ask Your Partner by DaMENSCH

Getting couples together to answer a pre-set questionnaire is nothing new. The format has been often used for compatibility tests or for knowing each other better. DaMENSCH tries to introduce fresh elements into an old format. The selection of couples for instance is not limited to heteronormative couples. There is a pair of two men, too incidentally with their dog. 

Next, both the questions as well as answers are closer to reality. Most couples answer in affirmative when asked if they have found themselves attracted to someone else after meeting each other. Thus, negating the idea that it is one person who seals the fate of your love life or that you cannot admire/be attracted to someone else after finding that one person. 

There are other questions pertaining to living on each other’s earnings and the idea of open relationships, couple therapy, too. 

Therefore, the questionnaire prepared by DaMENSCH reflects upon the new ideas of love as seen within a relationship. It encompasses matters once considered crude such as money as well as the space for more than two people in a relationship. 

With so many dimensions of love emerging both inside and outside of a relationship, short formats like ads appear limited and traditional in their narratives. While they do nudge consumers to appreciate and love their partners- they tend to revolve around a very narrowly defined idea of love. 

SKINN’s “Best Said with SKINN”

Skinn’s video featuring Sanya Malhotra ironically complaints about having nothing new in a relationship after the ‘happily ever after’ while depicting a couple that has nothing new about it. Without a doubt, familiarity can lead to a certain degree of boredom in a relationship and small gestures like gifting something thoughtful can make your better-half smile. But even so, with so many newer meanings, symbols and dimensions emerging- one wonders if that’s still the best way to express love. 

Given how Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest opportunities for brands, there is a constant attempt to come up with unique ways to define and represent love. Over the years, singles and non-heteronormative couples have gained significant recognition in narratives of romance. With exposure to global lifestyles and access to dating apps, even couples are discovering new avenues to overcome the staleness enforced by familiarity. With all these factors on board, it is a necessity for brands to go for a subtle and ground-breaking depiction of love and not resort to traditional and limiting narratives.