The art of romance

Rounding up the strange and the sublime to help you celebrate that special day.

кем Mark Tungate , Adforum

(Campaign from Spark 44)

Every February I say: “Why don’t I write something about Valentine’s Day? That’s just around the corner, right?”
Heads get shaken. “Nope. It’s the Super Bowl this weekend. You need to write an analysis of the best ads.”
Well here’s the news: I’m on a break with Super Bowl advertising. I’ve been writing about that stuff for what feels like my whole life. And besides, this year every single ad looked like something I’d seen before, including the one referencing Groundhog Day. There’s my Super Bowl analysis, right there.
So – Valentine’s Day. What are the latest advertising innovations in the world of romance? Since this column is mostly about digital trends, it’s hard to escape the “T” word. As far as I can tell, Tinder has more or less replaced actual relationships, although it tried to convince us otherwise with this delightful animated spot a couple of years ago.

More recently, Husqvarna created a special Valentine’s app called Timber, which matches tree lovers with their favourite…well, you can see where this is going. And no – there’s no sound on the film.

Nice trunks. The strange thing is that, among other forestry and gardening tools, Husqvarna makes chainsaws. Maybe they’re just designed to give the trees a trim.

If you thought that was weird, check out “Refrigerdating”, an app from Samsung that enabled people to woo potential mates with photographs of the insides of their fridge.

Turns out Valentine’s Day is more Pandora’s Box than chocolate box. Staying with the strange for a moment, did you know that Wieden+Kennedy had got hold of KFC founder Colonel Sanders and rejuvenated him? Not only that, they created a dating simulator game featuring nine culinary students who compete to win the Colonel’s heart with their cooking prowess.


The next film also makes you feel slightly ill at ease – until you realise it’s a flirty conversation between two operating systems.

Back in the real world, this charming film about a lifelong holiday romance couldn’t save the travel brand Thomas Cook, but it’s still lovely to watch.

Who needs to be part of a couple, anyway? You can buy your own chocolate on Valentine’s Day. There’s even a good reason for doing so.

All cynicism aside, let’s end on a high with jewellery brand Marla Aaron, some cute kids mangling Shakespeare, and a punch line that will have you reaching for your hankies.