Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest holidays for giving cards and gifts each year, and average expenditures continue to increase annually. A poll completed for Travelodge in 2012 showed that Brits were set to spend a staggering £880m with around three quarters of that to be spent by men. With such a massive consumer budget it isn’t surprising that businesses are willing to spend big and get highly creative with their advertising campaigns. Here are five of last year’s most successful campaigns for you to draw inspiration from.

1. Heineken’s Facebook App

Heineken launched a Facebook app called Serenade as part of a larger social media marketing campaign. Users were asked to choose the person they desired most, what it was that they fancied about that person, and what they wanted to do for Valentine’s Day. The app was available in more than 20 languages, so people from all over the globe could use it. A romantic message, or serenade, was created using the options selected by users. There were more than 600 possible serenades for each user.

Heineken Serenade

The rest of the campaign was an 8-hour YouTube extravaganza. Serenade participants were asked to take their Valentine on an epic date in the hope of having their serenade performed live and streamed directly onto YouTube.

This 2012 Valentine’s Day promotion shows how social media channels can be integrated into a single campaign. One of the great things about an app like this is that users will be exposed to Heineken’s message more than once. Hundreds of millions of serenades were sent via the app, illustrating that a well-written and attractive activity that ties in with other social media channels can prove highly engaging.

2. Krispy Kreme Twitter Roulette

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only social media channel and there are those businesses that prefer Twitter. It’s quick and incredibly simple to interact with others and donut chain Krispy Kreme hoped to take advantage of these qualities with their Valentine campaign.

Krispy Kreme

Users were encouraged to enter their Twitter name on the dedicated Krispy Kreme website. They were then asked to declare their preference for a male or female date, and spin the love wheel to find a Twitter date. Couples that were matched up could then tweet using a special hashtag in order to be entered into a prize draw.

The Twitter Roulette game not only attracted users to Krispy Kreme’s Twitter account but encouraged them to spread the word about the Valentine marketing campaign and about the brand at the same time.

3. Starbucks Augmented Reality Cups

In recent years, the remit of digital PR has come to include mobile apps. The augmented reality cups that Starbucks created in the US last year were a great example of this new development. When an enabled smartphone was pointed at the cup, the user could see flower petals fluttering from a heart printed on the side.

Starbucks augmented reality app

However, one of the problems with augmented reality is that it requires a bit more effort and attention from the consumer. Users often need to download a specific app and then scan the item or product with their smartphone. If successful, though, this means that users are automatically engaged with the company and with the marketing content.

4. Marks & Spencer AR Billboard

Marks & Spencer attempted a similar campaign using an advertising billboard in Waterloo Station. Users looking for last minute Valentine’s gift ideas could download the free Aurasma app to scan the M&S; billboard, which resulted in the lingerie model in the image coming alive.

M&S; AR Billboard

This advert benefits from the fact that the majority of Valentine’s money is spent by men on gifts for women and, as the old adage goes, sex sells. The draw for potential users was the lingerie model as well as the promise of last minute gift inspiration.

5. O2 Cupid Messages

O2 also sought to increase awareness on Twitter as well as improve its overall brand exposure during last year’s Valentine’s Day period. It featured two non-identical twins who read out users’ messages on YouTube. The object of the message would be informed via Twitter when the messages went live.

O2 Cupid Messages

This Valentine’s effort was a customer relationship management (CRM) campaign as much as a marketing campaign. Users submitted their message via Twitter using the hashtag #o2cupid. The mobile phone company were then able to track Twitter addresses and even collect information on their customers’ partners.

Valentine’s Day 2013

We’ve yet to see what brands’ in-house and PR agencies will come up with this Valentine’s Day, but expect to see Pinterest being used to greater effect, perhaps mobile apps and more integrated campaigns across multiple channels. If you are joining the Valentine’s race yourself, then social media engagement is key to ensuring that you enjoy the best possible results from your campaign. Do something a little bit different and you will be sure to raise some eyebrows and gain exposure via the media as well.