A custom guidebook company that sent customers an email discouraging the purchase of flowers for Valentine’s Day has apologized after the Society of American Florists reached out about the negative marketing.
The company, The Adventure Challenge, along with an upscale retailer, an online gift basket seller and a fragrance distributor are among the latest companies to bash flowers in the run-up to Valentine’s Day gift giving.
As the voice of the floral industry, the Society of American Florists responds to media stories and businesses that promote Valentine’s Day products and gifts by disparaging flowers. SAF contacts the media outlets and businesses that make these negative claims to request that they promote products on their own merits. In each outreach, SAF emphasizes that there are many positive ways to advertise Valentine’s Day offerings, and that companies should focus on the benefits and key selling points of their products instead of making unnecessary and unfair remarks about flowers.
The Adventure Company, which creates custom guidebooks for date nights, family vacations and more, advertised their “Couples Adventures” guidebook for Valentine’s Day by sending an email with the subject line, “Ditch the flowers this year”. The body of the email said, “This year, give each other a gift that will last a lifetime.”
The company offered an apology to florists negatively affected by their email.
“Our intention was not that people would stop [buying] flowers altogether, but more of a playful jab to encourage people to invest in long-lasting gifts as well,” the company said in an email to SAF. “We will definitely consider this in future advertisements and ad campaigns and appreciate you bringing this to our attention.”
In addition to The Adventure Company, SAF also reached out to:
- Upscale retailer Nordstrom, which posted a Facebook ad that said, “Searching for some unique gifting ideas for Valentine’s Day? Here’s a sign to give them something that’ll last longer than flowers or chocolates…”.
- Spoonful of Comfort, an online business that sells gift baskets. It posted an Instagram ad with the caption, “A step beyond standard flowers or fruit gift baskets, Spoonful of Comfort’s Corporate Gift Baskets are a personal thank you to those who make your business flourish.”
- Hyascent, a high-quality home fragrance diffuser business, focused promotional emails on purchasing a diffuser instead of flowers. Some of the text included was, “Sweeter than roses,” and, “Longer lasting too.” The company also used the hashtag #SRYFLOWERS.
If you choose to respond to negative advertising, here are a few tips to write an effective response:
- Be objective, diplomatic, and reasonable. Describe why you find the story/advertisement offensive or unfair. Explain that you believe in the effectiveness of stories/advertisements that promote products based on their own merits.
- Don’t sound defensive. That will only make it seem as though the “attack” on flowers was justified.
- Don’t make unreasonable demands. Unless a story contains a factual error, don’t demand that it be retracted.
- Suggest a middle-ground approach that the story/advertisement could take in the future. You might point out that instead of the phrase, “Don’t buy flowers,” the message could be, “In addition to flowers, add a gift of (company product)…”
Elizabeth Daly is the marketing and communications manager for the Society of American Florists.