News & Views

Opinion / The Price of Love


Let’s focus on those three words that are so dominant around Valentine’s Day: what’s it costing? If you’re an American man, 14 February sets you back $158.71, according to the National Retail Foundation, while US women spend just $75.79. But really, it doesn’t have to cost a thing, even if you want a night away in a swanky hotel.

This Valentine’s Day, IKEA in Spain invited couples to enter a competition where they could win a night’s stay at the brand’s pop-up hotel in Madrid. The cost? A review of the IKEA mattress. Given that IKEA is better known for triggering explosive arguments in its stores as opposed to nurturing romance (see IKEA Spain's film, below, top marks for self-awareness), this free retreat is a smart way to build brand love. Nice work McCann Spain.

How much would you spend on drinks on a first date? Would two free beers on a first date sound good to you? One of our favourite recent romantic campaigns comes from Belgian beer Pimus. In our Tinder-obsessed age, where organising a date has become as straightforward as ordering a pizza, Primus has been championing the ancient art of chatting up. With the social lubricant of a few beers, of course. Subversively, the Haacht-owned Belgian lager brand Primus ended up using Tinder for its campaign – and who can blame it? Some 50 million people use Tinder for an average of 90 minutes a day, so no wonder it’s such an appealing medium.

To encourage men to actually talk to women, Primus launched Bartinder, a campaign running on Tinder. With Boondoggle in Leuven, Primus enlisted some women in bars to flirt with men nearby on Tinder. When guys came across the girls in the app, they could, as usual, swipe through photos of them. But on the final image, Primus wrote: ‘A dating app. Come on. Just grow some balls and chat up a girl at the bar instead.’ Users then received an invitation, valid for 24 hours, to a bar nearby and an offer for two free Primus beers to help start their date. According to Boondoggle, 82% of all Tinder matches engaged with the brand. Engagement-wise, that’s a pretty big win for a tiny lager brand competing against the big budgets of Stella Artois and Heineken.

Are you happy for 14 February to cost the price of a decent box of chocolates? In that case, there may be renewed hope for those in Denmark, where a paltry 2% of Danish men believe in Valentine’s Day. That’s why premium chocolatier Anthon Berg, with Robert/Boisen & Like-minded, Copenhagen, enlisted the services of American professor of neuroeconomics, Paul Zak – aka ‘Dr Love’, whose book and TED talk,The Moral Molecule, focus on the power of feel good hormone oxytocin.

Zak worked with the male halves of 32 Danish couples. In a lab-style setting, the couples were interviewed together and the men were asked about the last nice things they did for their partner and what they felt about Valentine’s Day. Cue lots of awkward shuffling and embarrassed silences. Dr Zak then measured the guys' oxytocin levels. The men then told their partners why they loved them and gave them a box of Anthon Berg chocolates before having their oxytocin levels measured again.

The average level of oxytocin in the blood of the male participants increased by 27.5% and the men, all loved up, not only made their partners happier, they also made themselves happier due to their enhanced chemical state. Kudos to Anthon Berg which changed the emphasis of Valentine’s Day, transforming it from an occasion that men either ignore or grudgingly celebrate to one they can benefit from. If, while high on oxytocin, these new love converts buy a fancy box of chocolates (preferably from Anthon Berg), so much the better for the brand.

Finally, no matter what it costs, if Valentine’s Day doesn’t work out well for you, there’s always the Heartbreak Box. Created by Japanese designer goods retailer Brandear, this cardboard box allows jilted lovers to get rid of the reminders of their relationship (such as gifts that are no longer wanted). They can box them up and send them to developing countries and, for every box received, Brandear donates 100 yen ($1) to NGOs helping pregnant women and couples. It also assesses the items inside and compensate donors accordingly. So even if you’re broken hearted, you can console yourself by doing a good deed AND ending up in pocket.