The pressure placed on couples to turn February 14th into a special occasion has been growing over the past twenty years and as this year's Valentine's Day has approached, there's been a positive bonanza of television commercials urging men to provide roses, chocolate and a romantic meal for their hopeful partners.
Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have both been urging their well-heeled clientèle to push the boat out by spending twenty quid on a complete meal of pre-prepared loveliness.
M & S have acknowledged the cyclical nature of this event by re-running last year's commercial rather than bothering to make anything new for 2013 - after all what can have changed since last year? Well, as it turns out, horse is slightly less likely to be on the menu but... apart from that?
Since Waitrose employs Liverpool poet Roger McGough as a voiceover artist, you'd imagine that they'd be wary of putting rhyme in front of him - especially the kind of pseudo-Suess rhyme that the average copywriter imagines to be poetry. But this is Valentine's Day and BBH have plumped for some rhyming copy that makes "roses are red, violets are blue..." sound like it came from the pen of Lord Tennyson. McGough seems to have a slight catch in his throat as he reads and, frankly, who can blame him? The food reeks of luxury though and will surely have tempted many a middle-class male to don their neglected 'chef at work' apron tonight and place these offerings into the Aga.
The same couldn't be said of the food on display in Tesco's Valentine's Day offering. It looks okay but put it alongside the delicious-looking fare available from their more expensive rivals and it pales by comparison. The track 'Move Closer' plays as plates of food literally do just - plainly, a cipher for the bedroom action you can expect after serving this nosh to the woman in your life. (It looks a tad heavy though, so there may have to be a bit of bathroom action first.)
Tesco are still reeling from their close association with the ongoing horse meat saga and must be feeling a little relieved now that it's emerging that they weren't alone in confusing equine for bovine - but they'll nonetheless be glad that there's no trace of mince in their romantic meal for two.
The most artful of this year's commercials was made by Leo Burnett for the Co-op. In their commercial a woman bears witness to all manner of romantic gestures as she trudges home on Valentine's Day. We gather that her expectations are low and they look like being met when she walks in to see her husband lying across the sofa in an indolent heap. But what's this? A dining table bedecked with rose petals and romantic grub? The crafty rascal. This commercial captures the truthy reality of Valentine's Day - a couple's weary reluctance to take part being lifted by an unexpected gesture. Nice.
Vying with the Co-op for the honour of being named best Valentine's Day commercial in this article is a lovely piece of work made for punters in the Republic of Ireland by Chemistry in Dublin. It's for Lidl... no, really, Lidl... and it focuses on men's inability to speak the words of love. A succession of gormless men try in their own sweet way to conjure a sentence or two that expresses their love for the woman in their life. At least, we're reminded at the end, with the help of the advertised supermarket they can get the flowers right.
It's much better than anything we've come to expect from Lidl's television advertising in Great Britain but with TBWA\London being announced as Lidl's agency
this very day (as exclusively revealed by The Drum yesterday) perhaps by the time of their first anniversary on Valentine's Day 2014, this will have changed.