My mobile Valentine – the sites and campaigns of 2010’s festival of love

Update 12 February, 2010: Valentine’s details from Flirtomatic

Anyone wondering about the marketing impact of Valentine’s should take a look at mobile/online social network Flirtomatic which saw sales of virtual gifts jump 100 percent in the first nine days of February. Flirtomatic sells 1 million virtual gifts annually, peaking around Valentines Christmas and New Year, when it introduces new content for flirts to send to their friends.

Flirtomatic is running Valentine’s promotions with AT&T and Metro PCS in the US and all main UK network operators. It is also running a special Valentine’s ad campaign with O2. Each O2 user signing up for a free pay-as-you-go SIM card is rewarded with FlirtPoints and a secret Valentine’s Day gift (not O2 branded), which they can send on to whoever they like (not just Flirtomatic users).

P.S. Thanks to Tomi Ahonen from Communities Dominate Brands for including this post in the latest Carnival of the Mobilists, a weekly roundup of the very best in mobile and wireless blogs.

10 February, 2010

Savvy brands have long-since spotted that Valentine’s Day (V-Day) and mobile are very happy bed-fellows. 2010 again brings many ingenious examples of companies around the world using mobile to engage, empower, reward, promote to and, most importantly, sell to customers.

As we specified last year in Spread the mobile love our guide to running seasonal mobile promotions, the tips and case studies are just as applicable to any event – whether Chinese New Year, Ramadan or Christmas – V-Day, however, is a particularly good example because it transcends religions and geographies.

Sending love and gifts by mobile

You’ve no doubt read that V-Day is one of the busiest days for mobile messaging around the globe, as people send simple “Be my Valentine” texts and virtual mobile cards (m-cards). M-cards are available from many mobile sites and operator portals for a small fee and free as part of a promotion – such as this one from US broadcaster NBC (though it’s not clear why this is on the Web, rather than NBC mobile site. Card retailer Hallmark, recently in on the mobile game, is offering US customers the first m-card for free.

An interesting variant on the m-card is to allow people to select or design their own cards on their cell phone, then have them delivered as real greetings cards to people’s homes. The service we spotted, CardRaven (price US$2.99 including postage to any where in the world) was restricted to users of iPhone and can only be paid for using PayPal, but it’s a great idea that no doubt other vendors have or will make similar services available to the masses.

The next step up is purchasing and sending gifts by mobile. Any retailer that has an m-commerce site is in the driving seat here, but being V-Day, the more obvious winners are flower sellers or lingerie merchants. Particularly shrewd vendors offer same-day delivery for last-minute emergencies and SMS alert services to stop the same thing happening next year. For example see the m-commerce sites of US-based 1-800-FLOWERS, UK-based Interflora or Victoria’s Secret.

For purchasers who are concerned about buying the wrong thing, mobile gift vouchers (m-vouchers) to be redeemed on the Web or in-store may be a handy option. It’s not clear how widely available these are yet, but Indian company PayMate (a mobile payments company) claims that its GiftMate vouchers are welcome at over 3,000 retail/online merchants for just about anything. You can pick the m-vouchers from GiftMate mobile site, as well as online.

Retailers in the West, such as UK fashion retailer Oasis have launched m-voucher schemes. Considering the growing popularity of mobile discount coupons (m-coupons) among retailers and consumers, which presumably share similar technology, it seems likely m-vouchers will also become common-place.

Going out by mobile

Looking for a romantic meal, perhaps try a restaurant finder such as And, if you’re not up on date etiquette, then you should check out’s Valentine’s Day Survival Guide, which points out that your date may disapprove if you answer your phone or send a text during a date… some people, really.

When it comes to entertainment, Warner Brothers hopes a few love birds will head to see Valentine’s Day (a romantic comedy, released just in time for V-Day). In common with many films, it has a dedicated mobile site where film buffs can watch the trailer, download some free content and be directed to a partner site to find and book a cinema/showing. The US site is at, but the South African site at is more interesting from a mobile marketer’s point of view due to the cross branding and promotions/competitions (including the chance to win a trip to LA to see the film) with Lacoste fragrances for him and her. Don’t forget to check out the film reviews – though this one on didn’t seem to get that loving feeling.

If romantic comedies aren’t your thing, maybe try one of the mobile movie sites to find a film, read reviews, find and then book a show near you. US examples include, Movietickets Mobile and Forty Three Kix, but there are great examples elsewhere such as this one from Nu Metro Cinemas in South Africa.

If you are looking for love, we’re expecting a new addition to the many mobile dating sites. The travel-orientated mobile social network WAYN appears to be launching a dating service on V-Day, according to this story. Users of BlackBerry handsets can benefit from this Survival Kit of V-Day apps, which includes a Pick-up Guide for Women, chat-up guides and personality profilers and a Healthy Recipes app.

On a more serious note

MTV is giving a lesson in what not to send to your Valentine. Premiering on V-Day, MTV will launch Sexting in America: When Privates Go Public a TV program and campaign to create awareness of digital abuse, by mobile and email. This show will be a stark warning to anyone tempted to send indecent images to their Valentine, and highlights the implications when the recipient then forwards on the message. This draws on real-life stories of both the victim – whose reputation has been ruined as the image of her naked was unlawfully forwarded – and the offender – the boy who was found guilty of child pornography and placed on the Sex Offenders Register after he forwarded images of his naked under-age girlfriend. As usual with MTV shows we expect to see lots of material related to this campaign on In the meanwhile see this research on how many kids have been exposed to sexting and cyber-bullying and harassment.

Verizon Wireless is encouraging people to send in all those unloved old mobile phones this V-Day to its HopeLine Recycling Program, which donates cash to help victims of domestic violence make a new start.

Mobile campaigns, promotions and competitions

To help boost its followers on Twitter, American Greetings has launched a 12-day contest dubbed Follow the Love it asks its Twitter followers to answer daily questions in 140 characters or less. Each day, the winning tweet will be awarded one US$100 retailer gift card and a US$250 cash gift card. There is also a grand-prize draw for US$1,000.

Mobile operators love a V-Day promotion, but some are more eye-catching than others. A good example is Zain Nigeria which is running a two-week Talk for Love customer reward promotion. Prizes include free airtime (200 winners per day), a valentine’s pack with dinner at a top restaurant (100 winners each week) and an all-expenses-paid trip to Dubai (10 winners). The text-based promotion is open to new and existing pre-paid and post-paid customers, who spend a minimum of N100 (US$0.66) daily.

Considering that V-Day is a money spinner for mobile companies, when you see free international calls on offer, you have to wonder – where’s the catch? But this offer from Truphone (a Voice over IP provider application for some Nokia, BlackBerry, Android, Apple phones) states: “All day on February 14, calls to landlines in 30 countries (and mobile phones in 5 countries) are free. It is open to Truphone customers, wherever you are in the world, and there is nothing you need to do to take part, apart from make calls on February 14.” However it’s not clear why the offer is only available online and not on

And now for something completely different…

Valentine is a new digital-only comic story set in the Napoleonic times of the early 19th century that runs on smartphones (Apple and Android) and e-readers (such as Amazon).

Further reading:

  • Spread the mobile love the mobiThinking guide to running seasonal mobile promotions (with tips from experts and lots of great campaigns from previous V-Days).
  • A brief guide to mobile messaging for Valentines from SMS specialist Clickatell.

  • Please keep us updated with any mobile campaigns or m-commerce sites aimed at Valentines Day. Comment below or email editor (at)

    And don’t miss:

  • The insiders’ guides to mobile Web marketing:
    USA, Germany, UK, India, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Brazil
  • Interview: Tom Eslinger, digital creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide
  • How top football/soccer clubs engage fans with mobile
  • Ad networks mobile metrics reports: how they stack up
  • mobiThinking guide to mobile ad networks (2010)
  • Conferences & awards for mobile marketers, with offers
  • The Top Ten mobiThinkers 2009 – each profiled in full
  • mobiThinking’s page of essential links

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