Affection Via Algorithm

by Mark Tungate , MAYDREAM

As a Brit living in France, one of the things I miss is the constant sending and receiving of cards. The Brits send cards for everything: births and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, Christmas and Easter, new jobs, get well soon, happy retirement and sorry for your loss.

One thing they don’t send cards for is the New Year. Which the French do, of course, sometimes at the very end of January. Like everything else, the greetings card business has been digitized. This year, for example, I noticed a rather clever animated carte de voeux from the agency Le Fil.

And then, of course, there’s Valentine’s Day. Surely it’s impossible to innovate in the field of romance? “A kiss is still a kiss,” as the song goes. Cards, flowers, whispered words. But no – a romance can be conducted digitally too, as anybody who has used services like Meetic knows. Here’s the latest ad from Buzzman, which promises singletons they’ll be in a couple. By next year. 

Social networks have also become a fruitful terrain for those in search of love, as this Epica Award winner from last year (and from Norway) suggests. 

Other digital platforms can also take advantage of Valentine’s Day to send a message, as Expedia did in a spot from 180LA. 

In a similar exploit, the London agency Adam & Eve DDB took more…symbolic approach to the subject for the travel site Lastminute.com. 

Back in 2014, the Dutch agency Kingsday came to Paris, naturally, for a romantic campaign for the Flower Council of Holland. It installed 1,500 red boxes around the city, all containing a glassed-in rose. The instructions read: “In case of love at first sight, break glass.” Actually, it was cellophane, and the stunt was also featured in a viral film.    

That same year, Marketing magazine in the UK put together a list of the most-shared romantic ads ever. At the top was Vodaphone Red’s “Kiss” from 2013, made by Grey London, which has now been viewed more than 1.1 million times on YouTube.

Next in line was a 2010 Super Bowl ad from Google, which is also a personal favourite because it’s basically the story of my life. It was created by Google’s in-house team

One of the secrets to creating a successful viral is touching on what advertisers call “a basic human truth” – what the rest of us call an emotion. And love will get you every time. The spot that some people have called the most romantic ever is from last year, and it’s about chewing gum. I bet you cry at the end.  

Told you. Now you owe me a fiver. In fact, keep your money. Use it to buy a rose for the one you love.