It’s no secret that Valentine’s Day is a highly commercial holiday. The tinsel and Christmas decorations haven’t even started gathering dust in their storage rooms and every retailer starts reminding us that 14 February is around the corner, with pink hearts, red ribbons and chocolates for every taste.
What we don’t often see are Valentine’s Day advertising campaigns that are also inclusive of couples that are LGBTQI+. On the off chance queer people are included in ad campaigns, these are often criticised for tokenising the LGBTQ community in an effort to make a few quick pink dollars.
Inclusive campaigns that are done right share a few common characteristics. First off, they are authentic, but don’t sensationalise the inclusion of minority groups. These campaigns don’t play on stereotypes, but rather try to include minorities in a way that is almost matter-of-fact, albeit still offering a realistic portrayal of said groups.
Here are five LGBTQ-inclusive Valentine’s Day ad campaigns that do exactly that.
One Card, Many Backstories – Hallmark (2016)
Valentine’s Day is definitely associated with sending cards, and greetings card giant Hallmark’s 2016 Valentine’s Day campaign included not one, but two gay couples, highlighting how all kinds of backstories exist when it comes to love.
#BetterTogether – Lush (2017)
Lush Cosmetics’ ads, featuring queer couples taking baths together, was lauded for showing gay people in a way that is wholly indistinguishable from the way straight couples would often be shown in similar ad campaigns. The company went on to point out that the most shocking thing about their campaign was the size of the bathtubs, again reiterating that featuring the LGBTQ community in ads shouldn’t be something unusual at all.
Dare To Be Devoted – Jared (2018)
In this campaign, jewellery company Jared lets the spotlight fall on relationships that challenge the status quo. A woman asks a man to marry, a separated couple decides to try again, and a gay man pops the big question to his bae.
#ForAllKindsOfLove – The Man Company (2020)
The Man Company is a men’s grooming brand in India, and its 2020 Valentine’s Day ad campaign pays homage to all kinds of love.
For those who take pride in their relationships – Vodacom (2020)
In 2020, the local telecoms company Vodacom ran a Valentine’s Day campaign on Facebook with a simple, yet highly praised message. The graphic, which advertised Vodacom’s “month of love deals”, reads, “For those who take pride in their relationships”, quickly clearing up any confusion that might exist about the nature of the relationship between the two men who are locked in an embrace.