Valentine’s Day PR stunts: The Good, The Bad and The Risqué



It’s fast-approaching the time of year again that fills many of us with a strong sense of impending dread – Valentine’s Day PR stunts. That time of year where we shudder at the thought of approaching heart-smothered card shops, where singletons hide away in darkened rooms for 24 hours and where those of us who are coupled up simply grin and bare it and pray our better half doesn’t try to propose over a Nando’s. Trust me, I’ve witnessed it.

But, like it or lump it personally, there is no denying that it is one of the best times of year for PR stunts and campaigns – if they are done right, that is. Here are our top five V-Day successes and failures of 2015:

1) Pay with ‘high-fives, selfies and hugs’ at McDonalds

Now, this stunt by our friends across the Atlantic has been described by some as ‘too cringey’ but, if there’s one time of year where cringe can be pulled off, it’s Valentine’s Day without a doubt. And, let’s face it, if all that is required for a free Big Mac Meal is a quick hug with a staff member, you’re going to hug that staff member. They may want to rethink the name currently assigned to their store managers, however – ‘Lovin’ Leaders’ just doesn’t have that romantic ring to it…

2) Harvey Nichols Digital Hint Generator

After carrying out research which revealed that one in three men have no idea what to buy their partner for Valentine’s Day, the retailer came to the aid of desperate men everywhere. Harvey Nichols’ ‘happiness hint generator’ is now embedded into all of the products on their website, so knowing girlfriends can click “send a hint” and receive that stylish gift they’ve always wanted – always preferable to a bunch of flowers nicked from a neighbour’s garden.


3) The Bronx Zoo – Name a Cockroach After Your Ex

The Name-A-Roach programme was first launched at the Bronx Zoo in 2011, but proved to be so popular that they have decided to bring it back again for 2015. Under the tagline ‘Seal it with a Hiss’, the programme encourages the begrudging broken-hearted to name one of the zoo’s Madagascar roaches after an ex-partner. We don’t know about you, but we think jaded ex-lovers might be better off simply leaving an angry voicemail…

4) ITV’s This Morning – 50 Shades of Dismay

When ITV’s This Morning decided to do a pre-Valentine’s Day ‘Bondage for Beginners’ segment,  it wasn’t quite the wake-up call viewers had been expecting. The 50 Shades of Grey-themed segment, which introduced the audience to a number of ‘romantic’ products, aired at 10.30am and ultimately received over 70 complaints.

5) The Flower Council of Holland – #cupidrone

The Flower Council of Holland impressed with their recent pre-Valentine’s Day stunt, in which they used a drone to drop roses in front of couples in the Italian city of Verona. The drone, which was painted red and nicknamed ‘Cupidrone’, had a camera on board via which it caught the genuine reactions of passers-by as it dropped a single red rose at their feet.


Any other Valentine’s Day PR stunts/campaigns (good or awful) that deserve a mention? Tweet us at @theprblog


by Alicia Simpson