Even the people who are meant to love Valentine's Day—the coupled-up, mated ones—can't fully bring themselves to enjoy it: Expectations are high, restaurants are twice as expensive, ignoring it feels self-conscious, and celebrating it makes you feel like a bit of an asshole.
Luckily, with help from Droga5, Honey Maid is offering to reposition what is already a flagrantly commercial "celebration" of feels. In its "Love Day" ad (already an improvement on the original name—far fewer syllables!), the brand leaves romantic couples to other panting merchants and focuses instead on a different kind of love: The kind forged by families.
"This Valentine's Day, let's think of love differently," the ad begins. And before you've had time to blink, you're driven to the first major heartstring-puller: a mother looks at her obviously anxious teenage son and asks, "You're gay?"
He nods vigorously, on the point of tears. Without missing a beat, his mother rises from her chair and says, "That's OK, hon, I knew you were," before enveloping him in a much-needed embrace.
From that point, you never get the chance to slide off the emotional peak. This moment is followed by two young brothers, one white and the other black, talking about what adoption means; an Asian adult thanking the birth parents he's seeking—but still hasn't found—for the hard choice they made; a mother expressing the meaning of her parental bond to her gender-transitioned child; and more.
The work builds on Honey Maid's ongoing "This Is Wholesome" campaign, which has always focused on the changing look, but foundational sameness, of modern families: On the Fourth of July, it shined the spotlight on an immigrant family, but stories from same-sex and blended families have also been given delicate attention.
This particular work echoes its forbears in that it doesn't portray family love as linear or clear-cut; it's nuanced, sometimes laced with trepidation and turbulence. We often forget that love involves enormous personal risk, but Honey Maid uses that tension to string its instrument: in each situation, someone risks rejection or isolation, but a heathery mattress of absolution-rich acceptance sits safely beneath the fall.
It's a fair critique of feel-good advertising that the real world is just messier, but the brand hopes to address that too. "Love Day" finishes with a social media call to action: "Tag a loved one in the comments with a <3 to let them know you accept them just the way they are."
For those still nursing a family-related grievance (and that's probably most of us), this ask is especially handy; the ad can convey many of the things you want to say, but it doesn't replace conversation by saying too much. Frankly, I can't think of a better use for Valentine's Day.