The Point of Attachment Podcast: For Love or Money

Run Time: about 20 minutes

Why do so many people groan about Valentine’s Day? It’s an annual marker that is supposed to be a celebration of love, but for many it comes across as a 24-hour commercial ritual and a gauntlet of high-pressure relationship expectations. As our strategy director, Marisa Robertson put it:


It feels like a holiday for the marketers rather than a holiday for you and your significant other.


So, in the first episode of season #2, we ask the hypothetical question: how could you rebrand Valentine’s Day. To answer it, we interviewed Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, author of the bestselling book, Anatomy of Love, and Chief Science Advisor for


It’s branching out to a holiday where more than just sweethearts can celebrate, where a great many people can celebrate, and hopefully, that will take some of the real pressure off of people to just go out with friends on that day.

We also spoke with Dr. Lisa Cavanaugh, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, who is an expert in consumer psychology and how social relationships influence consumption. She shares some of her extensive research on Valentine’s Day and on the way that marketers’ good intentions sometimes go awry.


If you’re comparing kind of what you think is the standard or what you think other people have, and what you don’t have or what you don’t have in your relationship, it can create dissatisfaction or a feeling of loss or not being fulfilled even if you do have that romantic relationship. So, in some ways, you know, marketers will oftentimes use this imagery as a way to idealize a lifestyle and make something aspirational, and in reality, they can be shooting themselves in the foot.

Lisa has found that our notion of romance and love can take many interesting and effective forms in marketing and communications—forms that don’t alienate or cause feelings of judgment. She provided the following examples:

Romantic - Valentines - Corona Ad   Romantic - Valentines Day - McDonalds Ad

And, we explore the strategic and creative ramifications for marketers with Marisa and studio creative director, Marcus Bartlett.


What it really is at its core is a day to celebrate the relationship that you have with whoever is most important to you, and it doesn’t have to be a significant other. You don’t have to be in a romantic relationship. You know, why couldn’t you broaden it maybe to other people in your life that are important to you and whose relationships you value.

And that might have some interesting creative implications for those brands that wish to activate Cupid’s big day.


As soon as we start having a conversation about color relative to Valentine’s Day, it already opens the door to a different way to brand Valentine’s Day … I think there’s an opportunity to say, alright, let’s look at color and image and language so that Valentine’s Day and the idea of romance and love doesn’t have to be so straightforward.


Feature image by Simone Becchetti, licensed through
The Point of Attachment Theme music by Daniel Munkus

The Point of Attachment is a podcast series developed and produced by UTA Brand Studio. It focuses on what draws people to brands through the lens of culture, design and storytelling. It is hosted by Larry Vincent and produced by Frances Harlow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *