6 Valentine’s Day ads that get our approval (and 3 that don’t)

Valentine's Day ads header image

It’s that time of year again when Valentine’s Day briefs land in the inboxes of marketers and creatives around the world.

Like other holidays, Valentine’s Day ads can bring out the best and worst in brands. Some are poignant. Others have a playful twist that stands out against the noise. And then there are those Valentine’s Day campaigns that simply never should have been made.

Let’s dive into our roundup of six Valentine’s Day ads that get our approval – and three that don’t.

The six best Valentine’s Day ads

Single, married, or somewhere in between – Valentine’s Day should be a time that everyone can enjoy. And the best Valentine’s Day campaigns show exactly that.

From remembering to get your significant other a card to jetting off on your own to avoid Valentine’s Day altogether, our list has something for everyone.

Here are our six favorite Valentine’s Day ads:

  1. Snickers – You’re Forgetful When You’re Hungry
  2. Ryanair – Escape The Nonsense
  3. Match – Happy Valentine’s Day
  4. AdoreMe – What Women Really Want For Valentine’s Day
  5. Bouygues Telecom – The Mini Charger
  6. Panera – Forever Flatbreads

1. Snickers – You’re Forgetful When You’re Hungry

In 2017, Snickers launched an experiential billboard ad for Valentine’s Day. Playing on their classic campaign line, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”, the ad reads: “You’re forgetful when you’re hungry”.

On closer inspection, people passing the ad realize that the word “forgetful” is made up of Valentine’s Day cards. They can peel one off, write it out, and give it to their partner.

Like all great ads, this one plays on a simple truth, makes you smile, and offers value to everyone who saw it.

Valentine's Day Snickers

2. Ryanair – Escape The Nonsense

Over the years, brands have piled a lot of pressure on people around Valentine’s Day. According to The Drum, Valentine’s Day ads have even been shown to negatively impact mental health, particularly in men.

So it’s always refreshing when a brand comes along to subvert the predictable genre of Valentine’s Day campaigns.

In 2019, Ryanair challenged the cheesy tropes of Valentine’s Day by offering cheap single fares, helping singletons to #EscapeTheNonsense.

Valentine's Day Ryanair

3. Match – Happy Valentine’s Day

One of the most creative Valentine’s Day ads in this list comes from Match – the online dating site.

In 2016, Match could have created a cheesy ad showing how many couples they help hook up around Valentine’s Day. But instead, they turned things on their head by helping men celebrate the single life.

As the ad plays out, we’re tricked into thinking that we’re watching a guy get ready for a date. He takes a shower, irons his shirt, and lights a candle to set the mood. But when he opens the door, we see three of his mates standing there – they’ve come to watch the game. Then the strapline appears: “Enjoy it, because it won’t last.” 

It’s surprising and funny all at once, while landing a powerful brand promise that Match will help you find a partner.

Valentine's Day Match

4. AdoreMe – What Women Really Want For Valentine’s Day

Flowers, chocolates, jewelry. Are these really the things women want on Valentine’s Day?

US lingerie brand, AdoreMe, answers the question of what women really want in an honest and provocative campaign fuelled by women on Reddit.

“I’d like to eat my weight in raw fish,” says one.

“To be dominated,” says another before adding, “or romantic coupons could be cute.”

Here’s what makes this Valentine’s Day ad so great. Instead of running a discount to sell as many products as possible, they focused on building a brand that connects with women and makes them feel empowered.

Valentine's Day AdoreMe

5. Bouygues Telecom – The Mini Charger

Remember MTV Cribs in the ‘90s when celebrities would lead us into their bedrooms and declare: “This is where the magic happens”?

Well, it seems a lot of that magic was ruined when the smartphone came along. Instead of cuddling up under the covers, couples now lay back to back scrolling through their socials.

Luckily, Bouygues Telecom’s Valentine’s Day ad has a solution. The mini charger!

Valentine's Day Bouygues Telecom

6. Panera – Forever Flatbreads

This Valentine’s Day ad from Panera Bread takes the term cheesy to whole new heights. But thankfully, it’s all very tongue in cheek.

In the style of your typical Valentine’s Day rom-com, the brand rolled out a trailer for their delicious flatbreads.

And for the eagle-eyed movie lovers out there, there are some great references to Love Actually, When Harry Met Sally, and Jerry Maguire.

Valentine's Day Panera bread

The three worst Valentine’s Day ads

For all the great and creative Valentine’s Day ads, there are also some horror shows.

Whether it’s a cheap visual pun, blatant sexism, or terrible writing, Valentine’s Day campaigns are easy to get wrong.

Here’s our shortlist of the three worst Valentine’s Day ads:

  1. Wurst – Happy Valentine’s Day
  2. Natan – Jewelry
  3. Bud Light – Valentine’s Day

1. Wurst – Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m not even going to get into the visual metaphor of the sausage and the bun. You already know what’s going on there.

No. I have a much bigger problem with this Valentine’s Day ad, and that’s how utterly dreadful the food looks.

OK, the sausage isn’t so bad. It’s clearly cooked and has a nice bit of color. But that roll. Where’s the butter? And why isn’t there any mustard or ketchup?

Is this really supposed to make anyone rush out and grab a hot dog? 

Valentine's Day Wurst

2. Natan – Jewelry

It’s always impressive when a brand manages to deliver a clear message without any copy (this coming from a copywriter).

But unfortunately, in this case, the message is sexist garbage. “Buy her some jewelry and she’ll open her legs to you.” Just awful.

Also, maybe I’m still stuck on the last ad, but hot dogs or legs, anyone?

Valentine's Day Natan

3. Bud Light – Valentine’s Day

Last and, let’s be honest, least, is this Valentine’s Day ad from Bud Light.

The characters present the worst versions of men and women on Valentine’s Day. And the whole thing seems to be centered around the flimsy idea that “candlelight” rhymes with “Bud Light”.

It’s only 30 seconds long, but you’ll soon be wishing you could get that time back.

Valentine's Day Bud Light

How to get a faster sign-off on Valentine’s day ads

Turning great ideas into amazing Valentine’s day ads can be a long and exhausting process. But investing in the right marketing approval software will help you make sure the process runs smoothly while being more productive and enjoyable.

With a marketing approval software like Filestage, your team won’t have to chase stakeholders for feedback, leaving them more time and energy to focus on the creative side of the process. 

Filestage allows teams to share, discuss, and approve all their files, all in one place – including documents, images, videos, websites, and audio files.