Valentine’s PR Stunts – the good, the bad, the ugly

The most romantic day of the year, or so they say, and a great opportunity for imaginative PR stunts. But are they a good idea or do they miss the mark? Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day has consumers going wild, with 22 million Brits falling head over heels into their wallets and spending a predicted £650million this year.


Whether your loved one is your partner, your bestest gal pal or even a four-legged friend, the highly commercialised day sees an influx of opportunity to spend, spend, spend and that is why brands are so keen to get in on the action.

I’ve rounded up some of the highs and lows of Valentine’s PR stunts from the past couple of years and noted some of the lessons that may have been learnt along the way.



Candlelit dinner at Greggs

In 2018, Greggs got blanket national coverage by announcing its very special Valentine’s Day package for the alluring price of just £15. The lucky couples who snapped up tickets were treated to a candlelit dinner consisting of four courses of Greggs’ finest haute cuisine, a bottle of prosecco, mood lighting, candles and even roses.


Greggs clearly knows its demographic and by creating this humorous campaign in a bid to take the mick out of itself, it catered to its audience perfectly. ‘Banter marketing’ it may be, but Valentine’s Day at Greggs, whispering sweet nothings over a steak bake, all of a sudden sounds unashamedly appealing…



Give the ‘Gift of Nothing’ with Poundland


I think we can unanimously agree that Poundland f**ked this one up. This year they have released ‘The Gift of Nothing’ which is essentially a heart-shaped, plastic container of air.


The product, described by the retailer as ‘a bit of fun’, has enraged shoppers and environmental campaigners alike, with huge fears about the detrimental effect the unnecessary packaging will have on the planet. With taglines such as ‘less is more’ and ‘exactly what you asked for’, you can see the thought process behind the product, yet this is still a huge oversight on their part.


Not all PR is good PR with most coverage proving negative – Poundland, unlike Greggs, is simply not catering for its audience or social climate. We are living in an age of growing concern for our planet and single use plastic is at the heart of that discussion.



Name a cockroach after your ex


This may be one for the singletons amongst us, but the Helmsley Conservation Centre in Kent is offering up the chance to name a cockroach after your ex-partner in order to fund various projects at the centre. Securing some great national hits, this stunt was a viral success and went down a storm with its millennial audience.


For the reasonable payment of £1.50, the creepy crawly will be named after a ‘special someone’ of your choosing, whether that is a loathsome old flame, or perhaps a friend has recently been dumped and you are looking to cheer them up. I’m not sure that St Valentine had this in mind when he died a martyr for the sake of love, yet the strategy behind the campaign is undeniably applaudable.


And if the sheer satisfaction of knowing that there is a cockroach named after your ex isn’t enough, then perhaps the official certificate will do. Move over graduation pics, THIS is the framed event that I want up in my living room.


Who said romance is dead? Nothing screams love like a cockroach named Steve…





So far at Brazen PR this year we’ve revealed that love at first sight is in fact reality, Coventry is the UK’s most unromantic city, David Attenborough is the most kissed wax figure and the Lowry Hotel is now training staff on how to take great pics of their proposals.


To summarise – traditional Valentine’s Days are a thing of the past; we have Galentine’s, Palentine’s and everything in between. In the current climate of inclusivity and equality, Valentine’s Day is bigger and better than ever before and I, for one, am excited for another year of outrageous PR activity.

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About the Author

Charlotte Leigh