A chain of spas with 1,085 franchise locations in the U.S. is sticking to negative messaging in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
On February 5, the Society of American Florists contacted Massage Envy about a series of promotions online and in print that read, “Because Flowers Wilt.” SAF asked the company to pull the negative floral reference from its campaign and focus on the merits of its services, rather than disparaging other industries.
Instead, a Massage Envy guest relations specialist replied: “We appreciate your feedback and sincerely apologize that it has made you feel this way.” The specialist went on to insist that, despite the obvious dig at flowers’ vase life, the company is “certainly not intending any ill-will (sic) against the floral industry” and hopes it “can promote total body care for everyone this Valentine’s Day season.”
In addition to SAF’s efforts, dozens of florists have reached out to the company, posting more than 80 comments on the Massage Envy Facebook Wall that express disappointment with the ad.
Massage Envy has responded to a few of those comments. Like the response to SAF’s letter, many of the company’s replies on Facebook stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the effect of the ad and its negative portrayal of flowers. One response reads: “We love and appreciate all professions here (especially ones that require manual labor like yours does) as the campaign is not a knock on florists nor on those in the profession of making chocolates. We hope you do consider us again.”
This is the second year Massage Envy has used a negative floral reference in its Valentine’s Day ad.
Despite the company’s decision to stick with its approach, Jenny Scala, SAF’s director of marketing and communications, said florists’ efforts to persuade Massage Envy to change its campaign are not in vain.
“We hope that next year, Massage Envy will keep the floral industry’s concerns in mind and rethink making negative floral references in its promotions,” she said.
That may not provide much comfort to florists annoyed by the ads this year — and understandably worried about the cumulative effect of flower bashing on the value of the gift, over time — but, as Scala pointed out, the strategy of reaching out to offending companies has paid off. One example of a recent success is the collectibles marketer Danbury Mint.
“We wrote to them for years about their ads that knocked flowers, and, finally, they stopped two years ago,” Scala said. “It takes a lot of persistence to make a difference, and that’s why it’s important for these companies to hear from SAF as well as directly from florists.”
Historically, the number of Valentine’s Day negative ad offenders has decreased in recent years from several dozen to less than 20. SAF has responded to 15 negative advertisers so far in 2016.
Another repeat offender SAF contacted this year is the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. SAF has contacted the VTBC numerous times over the years about disparaging ads. In 2000, the last year the company responded directly to SAF’s complaint, the VTBC told SAF it had no plans to change its positioning as the “creative alternative to flowers.” This year, commercials show a vase of dead flowers.
“Even though we contact them every year, it’s important to let the VTBC know the floral industry is disappointed by its tactics and continue asking for a new approach,” Scala said.
In responding to companies, SAF’s main objective is to bring attention to the disparaging floral statements and ask advertisers to promote products on their own merits.
Other promotions SAF has responded to during this run-up to Valentine’s Day include:
- In a newspaper ad, Boston Medical Group advertised, “Roses are Overrated.”
- CVS Pharmacy posted on social media, “Her favorite cosmetics last longer than flowers. Make her a bouquet of something thoughtful this year.”
- Radio commercials for International Star Registry say getting a star named after you costs less than a dozen roses.
- Jared The Galleria of Jewelry’s radio commercials say flowers die.
- TV commercials for underwear seller MeUndies.com say flowers die.
- MyPublisher.com, a marketer of custom books, distributed an email that read, “Skip the flowers.”
- Whole Foods Market posted on Facebook: “…skip the florist and swing by your local Whole Foods Market for a bouquet of Whole Trade roses.”
SAF reported last week on its outreach to Twigs Terrariums and Scentsy for their Valentine’s Day campaigns.
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