Ad Spend Creativity Brand Strategy

A PSA from Stop & Shop: Valentine’s Day is the day after the Super Bowl

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

February 4, 2022 | 6 min read

Valentine’s Day is typically a big deal for brands. But this year, the holiday has the misfortune of taking place the day after the Big Game. In a new ad campaign, Stop & Shop offers a friendly reminder to do your Valentine’s Day shopping early.

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Stop & Shop is reminding customers not to forget about Valentine’s Day amid the Super Bowl noise

This year, Valentine’s Day is the day after the Super Bowl. If reading that sentence made you think ‘oh, shit,’ don’t worry, you’re not alone. And you can be forgiven for not remembering – most years, we’re barraged by Valentine’s Day-themed ads beginning right around the time that February rolls around, if not earlier.

This year, as you may have noticed, Valentine’s Day ads, while not entirely absent, have been a bit more scarce than usual. The reason? They’ve largely been lost in the noise caused by the Super Bowl, which is hands down the biggest advertising event of the year. Now a new ad campaign from Stop & Shop – a supermarket chain based in the northeastern US – is taking advantage of the general radio silence surrounding Valentine’s Day by reminding consumers to go out and buy their romantic gifts before the Big Game.

The new ads are simple both in their production style and in their delivery. One features a man wearing an NFL jersey and sitting on a couch, surrounded by the kinds of snacks that one would typically stock up on before the Big Game. “It’s an important week,” he says. “So go out, buy some nice flowers, make a little homemade dinner, and get your shopping done early.” Another ad, filmed in the same informal style, features a woman conveying a similar message. In their face-to-face and straightforward style of communication, the ads almost have the feel of a PSA, or that of a friend sitting you down to provide some advice.

“We were like, it does need to be a PSA, [because] nobody knows this,” says Alex Shulhafer, group creative director at McKinney, Stop & Shop’s lead agency of record. “And then as we brought it into reality, we really wanted to hone in on this voice of ‘from one procrastinator to another, let me let you in on this thing. Because you’re not going to want to realize it on Monday.’”

The fierce competition that pervades ad space in the Super Bowl often forces brands to get creative. While many companies can’t afford the millions of dollars that are required to air an ad during the Big Game, some are able to identify and leverage some subtle aspects of the event that give them a seat at the table, albeit a minor one. Stop & Shop, says Shulhafer, is trying to add its voice to the Super Bowl dialogue. “Super Bowl is like the Mecca of advertising,” says Shulhafer. “It’s where advertisers and big brands spend the most money, it tends to get the most attention ... A brand like Stop & Shop, we’re never going to be able to afford a Super Bowl ad. So this was an interesting opportunity to get in that conversation around the Super Bowl, but do it in a way that could be effective, that would be right for us as a brand.”

From a marketing standpoint, Valentine’s Day seems to have simply gotten the short end of the stick this year. The fact that it falls one day after the most televised event of the year – and also that that day happens to be a Monday – means that marketers have less incentive this year to spend exorbitant amounts of money trying to get people excited. Then again, the fact remains that Valentine’s Day is a major holiday that millions of people are going to observe and celebrate – which means that there’s currently a marketing vacuum surrounding Valentine’s Day that’s just waiting to be filled by some courageous brands with unique angles.

“Valentine’s Day definitely has gotten a tough placement, and so it is difficult,” says Karen Freberg, professor of strategic communications at the University of Louisville. “But if there are not many marketers paying attention, there is room for maybe an emerging brand to come in and say, ‘OK, we’re going to take over the conversation.’”

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