People do wild things when it comes to love. They go tandem skydiving on second dates, fly across the world to meet an online crush, and make five-hour playlists.
The marketing team at Proflowers decided it should go wild, too, in a love story that ended up spending its entire production budget licensing Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know.”
The ad takes a big swing for love -- and that’s what it hopes its customers will do. “We started with a basic insight this year–that humans do crazy things for love,” says Andrew Cagan, vice president of brand marketing for the San Diego-based company.
And the team decided the best way to capture that fool-for-love feeling was with a single piece of music. “We just fell in love with the idea of using a Whitney Houston song,” he tells Marketing Daily.
So it approached Houston’s estate and -- as with all love stories -- lucked out with good timing. “The estate was looking for partners because they were throwing a Grammy party for her 60th birthday.” Those conversations led to a multipart campaign: The Valentine’s Day ad, sponsoring a Whitney Houston party for the recent Grammy Awards, celebrating what would have been the singer’s 60th birthday, and a collaborative product to benefit the Whitney E. Houston Foundation.
The recent release of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the Sony biopic, also added to appeal.
“The more we worked together, the more excited we got,” says Cagan,
The cost might have been an obstacle. “We’re not Apple. We’re not Nike,” he says. “The cost of licensing the song was pretty much our whole production budget.”
That meant it had to create the “Wild Things” ad in-house instead of working with its usual agency partners.
Cagan thinks the trade-off is worth it. “Consumers are pretty savvy. They understand implicitly that it’s pricey for brands to use celebrities. They can tell whether an ad is cheap or expensive.”
The ad, running on broadcast and connected TV, breaks Valentine’s Day into three simple steps. “1. Buy flowers. 2. Put on some Whitney. 3. Give in to love, lose all common sense and do something wild.”
Cagan expects the limited-edition bouquets of lavender roses to sell out fast. “We learned that Whitney Houston was obsessed with flowers, and lavender roses were her absolute favorite. She always had them in the house,” he says. “Her family said this is the flower she would have wanted.”
Besides selling plenty of flowers and selling out the special collection, the goal is to build brand awareness for the company, which is owned by flower powerhouse FTD.
“We want to bring new people into the fold. That connection that Whitney Houston had to flowers is strong and profound, and our goal is to welcome that audience into our brand world.”
The partnership benefits the Whitney E. Houston Legacy Foundation, which works to rebuild, restore and repair children’s self-esteem with grassroots programs and initiatives. For every bouquet of lavender roses sold for Valentine’s Day, Proflowers will give a portion to the organization.