Valentine’s Day: Showcasing Self-Love

By: Em Chan

Valentine’s Day: the one day it seemed that everyone suddenly had partners or relationships to celebrate. However, the trend from celebrating being in love and romance is leaning toward promoting campaigns celebrating self-love (or at least, not being in a relationship). I think some great examples from 2019 for us single people- I mean, general single people, should be highlighted:

Potbelly and Celebrating Single-dom

In trying to include the singles in their demographic, Potbelly sandwich shop launched a campaign to encourage singles to eat out on Valentine’s day, due to the status of the holiday that normally discourages them. The promotion included giving a red velvet cookie to single people who had purchased food at the chain, with their social media posts featuring slogans like “I complete me” and “happily single.”

I think the sentiment (besides wanting to sell more sandwiches) is great – many people feel shame for wanting to dine alone, especially on Valentine’s day, so normalizing it on social media is a great reinforcement that it’s normal and not as shameful as they may expect.

Tinder and Homesick Candles

Tinder is all about making matches – in a surprise twist for Valentine’s day, they decided to go with selling a candle promoting singleness and “not being sorry” about the status. The candle’s label is formatted like a Tinder profile, which is a cute touch to the product.

Although I don’t know if the campaign went well, the sentiment that being single is still fun is refreshing for a holiday that celebrates commitment. Especially as a dating app, the branding is not overly focused on single-dom nor in pressuring users to jump into relationships, which is a delicate balance. The strategy in moving toward simply enjoying the status of single-dom plays into the balance really well.

Ryanair and “Low Fares, Made Single”

Ryanair, an Irish budget airline, created this ad campaign aiming to target single people in “escaping the nonsense” of obnoxious romantic couples on Valentine’s day, by offering flights for single travels starting at £9.99. The video depicts a man getting fed up with almost being a part of cute (but annoying) scenarios, like receiving a lovely card (but from his mom) and getting waved at by an attractive woman (who is actually waving at the guy behind him). 

The guy in the video is a lot of single people on Valentine’s day: they’re annoyed with the overly romantic gestures and mishaps that occur because of the holiday. I think taking it to the next level by promoting flights was extremely clever, especially since sometimes it feels so excruciatingly cringey and annoying to witness – so I’ve heard, not from prior experience or anything… 


What do you think about these three campaigns? Were they interesting campaigns or am I overreaching in trying to be okay with single-dom? (Don’t answer that.) What other campaigns have been successful and what others have been a bust? Do you agree with the trend that celebrating single-dom is positive or has it become as cringey as celebrating romance?

Comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Otherwise, reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or read my news articles, personal blog and PR blog.

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

This Article Has 20 Comments
  1. Caitlin Wahlers says:

    Em, I appreciate your attention to these self-love campaigns. Valentine’s Day has a reputation for stigmatizing those who are single and creating unrealistic expectations for those who have partners. It’s a double edge sword! In recent years, more brands have stepped outside of the conventional and trite advertising space to call-out self-love, which is absolutely brilliant. As you mentioned, campaigns like Potbelly’s has helped normalize singledom, which should be celebrated on all sides of the spectrum. I think campaigns like these bridge the conversation gap between those who are single and those who are in a partnership while diffusing some of the divisive energy that is carried by this day.

  2. Kyra Lindsay says:

    I believe that this is a great angle to take for Valentine’s Day. I feel that a large demographic of people are single for this holiday and there could be an untapped market in place. The Tinder campaign makes a lot of sense for the holiday and would make sense for other dating apps to get in on it too. It is a hallmark holiday anyway. It is not sacred therefore I feel that one company could have a lot of fun with it. I think you did a great job with this.

  3. Miranda Menard says:

    It is very smart and strategic marketing for companies to target singles during valentines day, just as jewelry stores and flower shops target couples. Companies are trying to cash in where there can. I think that the Ryanair campaign was successful. Not only because it likely worked because they had such great deals, but also to promote independence and highlight that its okay to do things along (even if you don’t “have to”). I think that the rate of which people refer to valentines day as “single awareness day” or make fun of those who are in happy relationships is just as negative and off putting as people in relationships shoving it in others faces. There needs to be a happy medium.

  4. Klaire Olson says:

    I think this is a very smart strategy especially because this generation seems to be sick of the gimmicky cliché Valentines’ Day has become, even for those who are in love. I think the place giving out cookies is genius because so many restaurants are packed full of couples, keeping singles away and giving out free cookies is a genius way to bring in more business. The ads you chose found a nice happy medium between picking fun at people who are happily in love and appreciating self-love, which is important because as cheesy as Valentine’s day can be that should not mean the entire holiday should be bashed and surrounded by negativity.

  5. Jessica Klockman says:

    This was a very well written piece that shed light on how society has been creating a more normalized audience to those who are single. It accentuates the idea that not everyone has to follow the path of having a significant other and that its just as okay to be single as it is to be in a relationship. The ads shown definitely do a great job at displaying both of those sides and the importance of spreading love and happiness independently. There is definitely a negative stigma around valentines day and this article did a great job at finding the balance and opening up both sides to show positive possible perspectives to all audiences.

  6. Ofuma Eze-Echesi says:

    I think the trend of companies promoting self-love and single-dom on Valentine’s day is pretty smart and encouraging. It definitely brings certain benefits like awareness and financial growth to the brands but it also encourages people to love themselves and supports the idea that there is nothing wrong with being single. These promotional campaigns also reduce the feeling of being left out, which is important in our society today, with people feeling less than or unworthy because they don’t have partners. Valentine’s day should be a day to celebrate different forms of love, whether its love of self, of family, of a partner or friends and these kinds of ads that you discussed, help in emphasizing and promoting that.

  7. Cassidy Stevens says:

    Thanks Em! I think’s its a really great things for these companies to celebrate single people on a holiday like Valentine’s Day. Most brands utilize this time of year to talk about having a partner or being in a relationship and it’s refreshing to see other brands celebrating others. I especially like the Tinder campaign because this service is specifically for single people. Their campaign made singles feel a part of Valentine’s Day by emphasizing the importance of self love. It’d be interesting to see how this can translate to other holidays and companies.

  8. Katie Corah says:

    I agree with you. Valentine’s Day brings out all the couples who are miraculously finally showcasing their love and commitment to one another, as if it isn’t deserving of that kind of affection every day. Couples like to “brag” or “shove it in your face” that they’re happy on this day. Using it as a way to promote a business and say it’s okay to be single on this dreaded day leads to the notion that they understand you and want you to know they are thinking of you. It’s thoughtfulness of Potbelly and TInder that make consumers feel more compelled to engage.

  9. Ashley Peters says:

    Em,
    I really liked the tone this post was written in. Your humorous additions to the commentary made the article entertaining to read and feel more relatable. I too think the flight discounts offered to single people were a creative touch on the holiday however I thought the Tinder campaign was much weaker. Unlike Potbelly and Ryanair, their campaign didn’t relate to the significance of the holiday and being single as well as encouraging people to eat out even if they are single, or treating themselves to a getaway did. A candle has no real significance to a single person. Instead, I feel there are multiple different directions they could’ve gone in that would’ve seemed more relevant to the holiday.

  10. Jamie Dunn says:

    This is a very interesting piece about the stigma about being single on Valentine’s Day. Social media has now created this trend of sharing the cutest couple posts on social media platforms and using this as the one day a year to show off your loved one. So, it is interesting to see these campaigns that praise single people on the holiday that glorifies couples. I think this could either make single people feel worse about themselves or empowered that they are strong independent people, I think it really depends on how the single person interprets the campaign. Overall, very well written post that brings up solid points and a new perspective on Valentine’s Day as a whole.

  11. Michael Robelli says:

    The Tinder candle idea really got my attention. At first it confused me how a company that has an identity all about matching would promote just the opposite. Why would they go against their market positioning like that? And then after thinking about the idea more, it hit me. Yes, they are a dating app with the goal of partnering people up. However, if everyone gets cuffed, then no one will be on Tinder. Tinder NEEDS Tinder to not work in order for their company to survive, in a sense. No people swiping equals no advertisements being seen. Therefore, it actually makes a lot of sense that they would commend those who are single on Valentine’s Day!

  12. Sara Espinosa says:

    I think this is an interesting twist on the marketing strategies of Valentine’s Day. We all know that Valentine’s Day is based on capitalism, but what do you do when there are more single people than couples in the world? You tap into the “single” industry. Ranging from Hooter’s ShredYourEx initiative to Coors Light’s “Skipping Cuffing Season” campaign, companies are becoming smarter when it comes to target audiences. These 3 examples are really good at showcasing the length that brands are willing to go for to reach audiences not particularly participating in Valentine’s Day. It’s fun to see these types of ads and one can only wonder what the future will bring.

  13. Emma Brennan says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the single side of Valentine’s Day. I think it is actually a really creative idea to focus on not just couples/partners on this day. Pot Belly’s goal to eliminate the dining alone stigma and encouraging singles to eat out at their locations is smart. I think more companies need to focus on the “Singles” industry more often. Companies who are promoting self love and singleness is very encouraging and good also for people’s wellbeing and mental health too!

  14. Monty Miller says:

    Hi Em! I really liked the ideas and marketing strategies used by companies in order to normalize and promote the idea of being single on Valentine’s day. Valentine’s day can be a sensitive time where many people feel as if they are reminded of the fact they are single. Companys like PotBelly and Tinder used clever humor and marketing in order to promote not only their brands and products but also self-love, well being and good mental health.

  15. Ty Hancock says:

    Let me first come out and say that I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, single or otherwise. Reason being 1) I don’t care for the colors red or pink 2) I don’t like cheesy or corny showings of affection 3) I’ve never been able to draw a very good heart 4) Restaurants are always extremely busy and 5) I’m still in a post-Christmas slump and Valentine’s can’t even hold a candle to the holiday celebrated 1.5 months prior. These reasons don’t particularly matter to anyone else but myself. Now, as for this article and the marketing of Valentine’s day towards singles. Without becoming too polarizing, I will attempt to explain my feelings. I understand that marketing is about acquiring new customers, increasing new purchases, and speaking to those that are not frequently spoken to. That being said, I don’t really appreciate it when one group of people is “put-down” or shamed in order to attract another group. In the same way that people should accept who they are if they are single, those same people should also accept others for the choices that they make and lifestyles they chose to lead. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Way too deep. This was just a lighthearted campaign, right? Yes, and no. #EscapeTheNonesense and #HappilySingle and “single smells like fun and freedom” are just a few of the examples of companies looking to shame couples from expressing their love, and entice others to celebrate their single-ness and lack of commitment. Tying one’s happiness to being single or using words like “cuffed” or “ball and chain” to describe the bounds of marriage, are just other forms of tying your emotional state to the status in which you currently find yourself.

    Disclaimer: The campaigns are creative. And I would probably want to market to the same people if I were in those positions. I like them. This was more of an adversarial/devil’s advocate comment.

  16. Sarah Lovely says:

    Em, I love this article. First of all, I love empowering the single and alone, being that I am one of those people. Last Valentine’s Day I had a “Galentine’s” party with my friends which included gorging ourselves on cookies, brownies, and a bottle of wine each. Therefore I love any brand that decides to cater to their single audiences, like my friends and I, aspirations to eat their feelings on Valentine’s Day. One thing that comes to mind for me, which is the old reliable, Papa Murphy’s heart-shaped pizza. This year when I went to purchase this beautiful item, it came with a combo option that included cookie dough and garlic knots. This goes to show that Papa Murphy’s knows, that if you are getting a take-out pizza on Valentine’s Day in your sweats instead of getting taken out to dinner by a significant other, you might need the extra cookie dough and garlic knots.

  17. Hannah Miller says:

    I loved this post. It is great to find power in being alone, single, and loving yourself on Valentines Day. It seems cheesy, but one has to love themselves before they can really love anyone else. Being single on Valentines Day should be celebrated too, and that is why I love the concept of a “Galentine’s.” I really enjoyed the ideas behind these companies that normalize being single on Valentine’s day.

  18. Kyra Flynn says:

    I agree with you! I feel that Valentine’s Day is often looked down upon or dreaded by those who are single, so it is great that companies have recognized this and are using their brand to promote the holiday as a day to embrace self love. Tinder’s post specifically stuck out to me as well. I appreciate that a company that profits off of helping people find matches is making the effort to bring a positive outlook to the single-dom.

  19. Anushka Pawashe says:

    I think it is really smart that brands target the unseen single audience on Valentine’s Day. There’s a whole group of people that aren’t getting any attention during this time and that’s a lot of profit that brands are potentially missing out on. Lately, I feel like it is more common for people to be single due to younger people being more invested in their careers than settling down with a family and such. This is kind of making Valentine’s Day less relevant in media because people don’t want to celebrate a cheesy day about something they have no connection to at all. By targeting singles on this day, brands can include self-deprecating humor about being single on a day of love, along with self-love.

  20. Sarah Naciri says:

    I love these ideas so much. Specifically, I love the Ryanair “Low Fares, Made Single” campaign. This is because while I was growing up my mom’s best friend told me to never cancel a trip or turn down a job for a significant other. Traveling by yourself or with your best friend can be an extraordinary experience, it’s actually how my parents met! You have no idea how much you can grow and mature when you live in an unfamiliar environment.

    No matter if someone is in a relationship, or not, I believe everyone should work on self-love. Currently, we are living in a fascinating time period where we are learning to love our natural bodies. Our generation often gets accused of being “too sensitive”, but I think that it’s better to be overly sensitive than being unmindful.

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