ALEXANDRIA, VA: Rather than focusing on the fun of a racy gift, Victoria’s Secret, the largest American retailer of lingerie, put down flowers. Store windows featured a lacy décolletage and the words “Forget the Flowers.” SAF emailed the company about the negative floral reference and, the next day, received a response.
Carol Dreska, communications manager of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, told SAF in an email that it was “never our intention to offend” anyone with its marketing and that the “reference is intended to be taken in jest.” Dreska added that she will “share [SAF’s] feedback with [L Brand’s] marketing team.”
Victoria’s Secret wasn’t the only company that apologized for making negative floral statements in Valentine’s Day promotions.
After SAF asked American Express to reconsider email promotions that put down flowers (“What’s more romantic than flowers?” and “Flowers last a week”), Tracy J. Paurowski, director of American Express Travel & Lifestyle Services, issued her “sincerest apologies” to the floral industry and promised to embrace a more positive stance in the future. “I can assure you that American Express appreciates and supports the flower industry with many promotional opportunities with local small businesses and national brands,” Paurowski wrote. “In the future, more care will be taken when creating promotional headlines.”
Smile Train also apologized. The world’s largest cleft charity had asked for donations in an email that read: “Flowers Wilt, but a Smile Is Forever.” SAF wrote the organization: “There is no question that Smile Train is a worthy cause, and Valentine’s Day is a great time to capture consumers’ attention. The floral industry just asks that you do it in a way that does not disparage other industries to elevate your cause, which can surely stand on its own.”
Within hours of hearing from SAF, Smile Train rep Deb Silver responded: “I would like to apologize if our recent email has upset or offended you in any way. Please know that was never our intention … I have passed your email along to our marketing department.”
Other companies SAF contacted this Valentine’s Day season about negative marketing tactics include:
- Dell: “Forget flowers. Get a tablet.”
- eCreamery: “Glad I Didn’t Send Flowers?”
- Harley-Davidson: “Enough with the flowers”
- Microsoft: “Roses wilt, other gifts rock.”
- Pandora Jewelry: “Why settle for the flower thing when you can give her the perfect thing?”
- PUMA: “Roses are totally lame. Give sneakers instead.”
- Sonic Drive-In: “Roses are Overrated.”
SAF responded to repeat offenders the Danbury Mint and Vermont Teddy Bear Company. The Danbury Mint mailer included: “Instead of flowers, give her fine jewelry …” and “But unlike your love, roses fade.” Vermont Teddy Bear commercials told consumers not to buy flowers and showed images of dead flowers.
SAF also reached out to ProFlowers regarding commercials that suggested consumers order early to avoid prices that “double or triple” in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. SAF asked ProFlowers to reconsider its approach, pointing out that no data supports their assertion that flower prices increase in the days leading up to the holiday – and that the statement may have the net effect of turning consumers off from flowers altogether.