Indrani Sen: Valentine’s Day Spreads Riding on Media Wings

14 Feb,2022

Indrani SenBy Indrani Sen

 

Today is Valentine’s Day. Inspite of the clash of the concept of Valentine’s Day with our conservative religious traditions, which have been fueled in recent years with the rise of Hindutva, we find media and brands encouraging people to celebrate the day by showing their love for each other. The vigilance of the keepers of the Hindutva seems to be matched equally, if not by a better degree by the aggression of media bent on utilising the opportunity of doing brisk business on the occasion of the Valentine’s Day.

 

Valentine’s Day, which is popular across the world, has its origin as a Christian Feast Day in honour of Saint Valentine. There are many legends associated with Saint Valentine, who died (or was executed) on February 14 in 269 AD in Rome. The Feast Day was established by Pope Gelasius in AD 496. Apparently, the day got associated with romantic love during the 14th and 15th century and gradually grew into an occasion for celebrating universal love by the 18th century in England. In modern times, it stands as an interesting example of cultural capitalism which has spread across the world riding on mass media and ably supported by marketers/ advertisers and their agencies.

 

Very recently the concept of Valentine’s week is being promoted by giving a name to each of the day preceding the Valentine’s Day in that week and creating more opportunities for marketing and advertising (https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/valentines-week-from-roses-to-promises-everything-you-need-to-know-about-valentines-day-2751803). This concept is yet to catch on in India where it would be very difficult to promote Hug Day (February 12) and Kiss Day (February 13), but I am sure that chocolate manufacturers and toy manufactures would live to promote the Chocolate Day (February 9) and Teddy Day (February 10). The Rose Day (February 7) also holds promises for doing brisk business for flower sellers, but as it is not an organised industry, they may not be able to utilise the opportunity to its full extent, unless e-retailing comes to their rescue.

 

The concept of Valentine’s Day has been promoted in India more by the national and regional TV channels who have made it an integral part of their content than by advertisement related to the concept. Each and every general entertainment (GEC) channels, be it in Hindi or in regional languages, plan to have special programmes on the Valentine’s Day as an integrated part of story in one of the serials running on the channel. The same is promoted on all channels owned by the TV Network and if it is a part of the marketing campaign of the TV channel, then the special programme on Valentine’s Day is advertised across other media, newspapers, FM Radio and hoardings. The viewers across tier II, tier III cities and even in smaller towns and rural areas, thus get educated about the celebration of love on the Valentine’s Day.

 

The movie channels organise special screening of age-old romantic movies round the clock on the Valentine’s Day. This day is also considered to be a good day for launching a romantic movie online. The news channels try to do special features and grab every opportunity of broadcasting a news related to the Valentine’s Day celebrations. On the whole, Indian TV industry invests a lot of time, energy and money to promote the Valentine’s Day. There is no ready analysis of the ADEX available to assess if their efforts are being rewarded by the advertisers.

 

The print industry, particularly the newspapers, do not have much opportunity for promoting the Valentine’s Day through their regular content. If Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then we find articles on the same in their weekend supplements. Years back, in the late eighties and early nineties, many English newspapers used to carry special supplements of classified ads where people could book space for sending Valentine’s Day messages to their loved ones. That practice has become obsolete now.

 

Still, we find special Valentine’s Day advertisements in newspapers, usually from medium and small size manufacturers. This morning (Feb 14), I was surprised to find an advertisement in Bengali of “Khukumoni Sindur” in Ei Samoy, Kolkata, indicating that the concept has been integrated into our traditional symbol of marriage. The ad has a headline which when translated into English reads ‘Celebrating that colour’ meaning the red colour of sindoor, followed by the copy inside the heart which says “and all its power”. The brand signs off with just two words “With love Khukumoni Sindoor”.

 

FM Radio also utilises the Valentine’s Day for holding sponsored programmes on various channels. It is also quite common to find activation programmes by FM stations in malls, etc. on this day.

 

On the whole, traditional media in India is ensuring that Valentine’s Day becomes a day for celebrating love across the country. Needles to mention that their activities are supported by advertisers, some of whom also create special advertisement based on the Valentine’s Day theme.

 

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