Vintage Ad Archive: Make Mine Valentine's!

AlcProfValentineHeader
AlcProfValentineHeader

It's Amazing how quickly time flies by, isn't it? Though it seems like we've only just finished packing away the Christmas and New Year's decorations, and barely started to deal with the one-two punch of the Lunar New Year and Mardi Gras, we're already well into the annual onslaught of hearts and cherubs and chocolates that heralds the most amorous of all holidays. But thankfully, Valentine's Day is an occasion that fits perfectly with our sentimental sensibilities here at Alcohol Professor HQ. After all, there are few things in life as romantic as enjoying a drink with that special someone, and star-crossed encounters are always best when you have something suitable to sip on. Lace doilies, forget-me-nots, fine wines, candy hearts and candlelit dinners. The brush of a hand, the flush of a cheek, the rattle of ice cubes in your glass. We love to celebrate love, and liquid refreshment is an essential part of any good celebration.

Carling's Red Cap, 1952
Carling's Red Cap, 1952

So with that in mind, it seems only fitting to flip through my files and present a look at how brands have incorporated these motifs over the decades, pairing their products with flirting and flowers, using the power of love to carry their message to consumers.

Wine has enjoyed an implicit association with romance for time immemorial, and vintners have never been shy about using the connection in their marketing. For example, Valliant & Son, a California winery that launched a national campaign in the years after World War II, built an entire series of ads around this concept.

Whiskey, on the other hand, may not be the first liquor one relates to Valentine's, but distilleries found a number of unique ways to engage with the holiday in their advertising. Some encouraged gift-giving...

Wild Turkey, 1981
Wild Turkey, 1981
Chivas Regal, 1978
Chivas Regal, 1978

While some took a more nuanced approach.

Corby's, 1948
Corby's, 1948

And then others... Well, hm.

I guess Valentine's doesn't always have to be about other people, does it?

Johnnie Walker, 1976
Johnnie Walker, 1976

And of course, all specific Valentiney iconography aside, a general sense of affection and romance never seems to go out of style with whiskey drinkers.

 

Cordials, brandies, and apertifs have also played up their passion-inducing properties, while attempting to win over audiences.

In fact, Amaretto Di Saronno built its entire brand identity around an ethic of old-world adoration, billing itself as no less than the official "drink of love".

Di Saronno, 1980
Di Saronno, 1980

And as for other brands, well... They tried.

Hiram Walker, 1981
Hiram Walker, 1981

Truly, though – love is universal. Love sees no age, no sex, no color, and doesn't have any particular cocktail preference. Love is a game anyone can play, and in the eyes of Valentine's, there's room for all kinds of beverages.

Rheingold, 1947
Rheingold, 1947

Even beer companies have utilized the appeal of February's flirtatious festivities, and come up with appropriately affectionate product presentations.

Plus, who can resist an ad that features a pretty girl, hearts, flowers, beer, and a dog? I can't, that's for sure.

Happy Days
Happy Days

But now, I'm afraid I must bring this installment of Vintage Ad Archive to a close. I need to get back to my construction paper hearts, lace, glitter and glue, finish up all the cards I've left lying around in half-finished states, and then finalize the cocktail menu for our Valentine's Eve staff soiree.

I hope you've drawn some intoxicating inspiration from these glimpses at lovestruck times past, and that you have a safe and spectacular holiday this year. Let's all lift a glass to St. Valentine, and keep our wits about us – after all, you never know where Cupid may be hiding, ready to catch us in his crosshairs!