Prove Your Love With Money Day
Last week, as my brother and I conversed while the TV was on in the background, a bright and visually offensive ad was strewn across the television. Thanks to the likes of Netflix my partner and I don’t watch live TV but opt to stream from various legal sites. Due to this, we tend to miss the majority of inane British advertisements. This pink and love heart focused add had subscribed the age old Valentine's Day marketing ploys, telling men what they’re female partner’s want this year.
This particular British supermarket was advertising the ‘ideal gifts’ for this year’s instalment of Valentine’s Day (or as I like to think of it ‘how much can I get my partner to spend on me to prove their love’ day). Favouring overused and unoriginal marketing campaigns this supermarket giant suggests a gift set for ‘her’ which includes roses, perfume, chocolate and of course, a copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary - an unimaginative gift suggestion which panders to that one idea of what women want. Year after year, retailers push the same old shtick to those in relationships with roses, lingerie, chocolate, perfume/cologne and a plethora of tacky pink and red heart shaped nik naks and decorations.
Valentine’s Day - a time of year when retail companies and restaurant saturate our television screens, magazines and newspapers with advertisements which challenge just how much we care about our partners while trying to convince us to spend a small fortune on Valentines gifts, meals and trips.
It was predicted that Brits would spend £1.9 bn on Valentine's celebrations this year, up from £130 bn last year, with the average person spending £55.38.
It’s well known that companies bump up the prices to squeeze more pennies out of doe-eyed lovers but do we really know the extent of it? Researchers have found that flower retailers double the price of their bouquets in anticipation of the holiday, while the average markup for card retailers at this time of year is between 200% and 250%. This markup is so drastic that if you spend £2.50 on a card it more than likely cost a measly 20p to produce. Hotels claim to offer ‘Valentine’s packages’ when more often than not they add a box of chocolate, a bottle of wine and a 10% raise in the cost. The 10% percent may not seem like that much of a markup but when most hotels offer limited menus to accommodate the crowded venues and rushed service, it doesn’t seem worth the extra coins.
Not only are couples pressurised into expressing their love in consumer form but single people are hit pretty hard too. Firstly, there’s no holiday celebrating singledom in our society - most likely due to a toxic notion that you’re not a complete person until you’re in a relationship. Then there’s the pressure to find someone, however incompatible they may be, to spend Valentines with as apparently we can’t enjoy our own company. If singles decide to avoid the holiday all together they’re still subjected to the obnoxious advertising, not to mention friends competing for Best Couple or Most In Love on social media(we get it, you’re in love, why brag?). Of course, there are those who stick the middle digit up to this holiday and celebrate it however they see fit. Whether it’s sitting in with some wine and a good book or going out and getting Larry with your mates, I applaud you for not adhering to this frivolous holiday.
It seems that Valentine’s Day is a breeding ground for stereotypes. Looking at the extensive examples of marketing campaigns this holiday is promoted mainly to monogamous straight couples who fit into the ‘normal couple’ ideal. The vast majority of advertisements feature heterosexual couples, further pushing the heteronormative narrative to our diverse public. Several companies are starting to include same sex couples in marriages and whilst it’s amazing for same sex couples to be getting more mainstream representation, I can’t help but question companies who seem to use equality as a marketing ploy rather than being bonafide advocates for equality. Companies offer ‘his and her’ gifts, magazines features tell men how to make this year the best Valentines for their mrs and vice versa, yet there’s a total lack in ‘his and his’ or ‘her and her’ options. If this really was a holiday about expressing love surely it should include all forms of love and not just that of the heterosexual variety?
I know it’s an old cliche and some people believe those who use the following phrase to be rather wanky but it has some truth - why should only use one day of the year to express our love for our partners? My partner and I celebrated this 'holiday' in the first year of our relationship and it just felt forced and obligatory. We spent money we didn't really have on gifts we didn't need to try and prove to just how much we loved each other - something we already knew! Seriously, why feed into the hype driven by strategic marketing campaigns for retail establishments who only want your money? Each to their own I guess, but I’d rather enjoy a shared giggle fit over an unexpected flatulent in public than be showered with obligatory gifts of flowers, chocolates and a DVD copy of Love, Actually.