True Love, Dead Presidents, or 50 Shades? Going Multichannel for the Multi-Holiday Weekend

This weekend is a tricky one for retailers: so much to promote, so little time. Valentine’s Day is always February 14th, but Presidents’ Day shifts around as the third Monday of the month. This year, they’ve landed on the same weekend: Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and Presidents’ Day is on Monday.

A surprise contender for this weekend’s festivities is “Fifty Shades of Grey,” set to release on Valentine’s Day. Interestingly, the movie is making bank even before hitting theatres. The target audience of adult women has boosted retail sales in form of branded merchandising: official makeup lines, branded stockings, a Christian Grey-esque teddy bear*, and even an adult toy collection from Target.

This presents a dilemma for retailers: which to promote? Valentine’s Day spending this year is poised to reach a record $18.9 billion. Presidents’ Day is the only long holiday shopping weekend in February, and is known for “Cyber Monday-rivaling” discountson electronics and other big-ticket items as stores make room for spring merchandise. And riding the buzzy wave of “Fifty Shades” – pun intended – is sure to get some conversations started.

The obvious answer is that retailers should promote both, or even all three. But that’s a lot of information for one weekend, and different brands have shown varying degrees of finesse when it comes to the fine line between promoting and overwhelming.

We compared the tactics of Macy’s and ASOS to see how they measured up:



Macy’s homepage is a riot of color, and not in a good way. They decided to give equal market share to Presidents’ Day and Valentine’s Day, and the result is a confusing mix of messaging and creative.


Their email also targeted both holidays, but with a smaller call to action on Valentine’s Day. It’s a definite step up from the headache-inducing website.

macys tweet

Macy’s strongest channel was social media, which focused on promoting Valentine’s Day. In a savvy move, they featured both gift ideas and date-night outfit ideas for the ladies.


asos pres day

ASOS focused their website offers on Presidents’ Day. The only mention to Valentine’s Day was a content piece featured on the sidebar, which keeps it relevant but not overwhelming.


ASOS kept their email about Presidents’ Day simple: no mention of Valentine’s Day. They sent out a separate Valentine’s Day email a week prior, which effectively promoted both holidays without emphasizing that they fell on the same weekend. Bonus points for incorporating “Fifty Shades” actor Jamie Dornan into the creative – an inside joke to the female customers in the know.

asos tweetsd

Like Macy’s, ASOS focused their tweets on Valentine’s Day. They promoted last-minute shopping ideas and featured beauty tips. They also sent out a “Fifty Shades”-related tweet that showcased their clothing.

Winner: ASOS

ASOS is the clear winner here, and for several reasons. First, they streamlined their messaging and creative by treating the two holidays as separate shopping occasions. This kept everything looking clean, and engaged customers without overwhelming them.

Secondly, they split up the channels by devoting social media purely on Valentine’s Day, website on President’s Day, and email marketing on both. Instead of bombarding customers with identical messaging from all directions, ASOS was able to find different ways to engage.

And finally, ASOS’ references to “Fifty Shades of Grey” proved they know their audience. By incorporating the pop culture event into their messaging, they’re sending a wink to their customers while piggybacking on the buzz. ASOS’ success highlights how retailers must think multichannel – and above all else, understand your target audience. The “Fifty Shades” references, while not strictly necessary, is a smart way to engage customers, and caters to their interests past fashion. Savvy!

*Here’s the teddy bear. I don’t get it either.