Valentine’s Day? Bah, Humbug!

A primary premise of POP! is, “Don’t state the obvious; state the opposite.”

What’s that got to do with Valentine’s Day? When considering retail and media opportunities, ask yourself, “What’s normal about how people approach and celebrate this holiday? How can I be (positively) ab-normal?”

Most stores, newspaper columns, web-sites and TV shows are focusing on how people can make this day as romantic as possible with their loved one.

What about all the people who don’t have a loved one?

As reported by Olivia Barker in the Feb. 13 issue of USA Today, Valentine’s Day is the third biggest gift-giving holiday, (after Christmas and Mother’s Day). Smart entrepreneurs and organizations are keeping that in mind and capitalizing on the vast market of singles who may be spending the day alone.

For example, there’s a “snarky” Valentine e-card with the punch-line “Valentine bites” available at Those going solo can indulge in bittersweet “commiseration candies” imprinted with “Table for 1” and “I don’t care.” Available from

Perhaps you have a friend who’d appreciate the “Cupid can’t aim” t-shirt from, or the “Love is a Bear” teddy bear that proclaims “Love stinks” and “My girlfriends are more fun” at Hallmark stores.

In my 3-part POP! CD series available from, we call this The Contrabrand Technique. It suggests that one of the best ways to differentiate yourself in a saturated marketplace is to ask, “How can I be counter-intuitive? What could I say that flies in the face of current wisdom? How can I introduce a product or idea that swims against the tide?”

Steven Johnson wrote a book called “Everything Bad is Good for You” in which he says video games are actually healthy for teens because they provide a cognitive workout that increases motor control. His “Say what?!” claim earned him a lengthy article in The Washington Post in which he freely admits, “If this makes people mad; it’s achieved its goal. I could have written a more balanced book, but that’s the kind of book nobody listens to.”

I’m not suggesting you state falsehoods or be deliberately sensationalistic. I am suggesting that if you’re following the crowd and saying/doing what everyone else is, you will blend in instead of break out. Look at your project, process, proposal, or product. Where can you challenge the norm? (

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