Valentine’s Day Ads Can Negatively Affect Mental Health, Especially Among Men

Valentine's Day Ads Can Negatively Affect Mental Health, Especially Among Men

Valentine’s Day Ads Can Negatively Affect Mental Health, Especially Among Men


Valentine’s day ads tend to tell a very special story: Men have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on romantic gifts or their partners will see them less. Here’s what experts have to say about the cultural narrative surrounding Valentine’s Day and how it affects the mental health of some men.

On the surface, Valentine’s Day is a day of romance – we celebrate and remind ourselves of the paramount importance of love. In fact, it’s a gold rush for marketers and a holiday that many despise. For some single people, however, it underscored their sense of isolation. And for others in a relationship, it often takes them and their relationship to an unattainable standard.

Many of these standards are disseminated through advertising. Every February is usually flooded with ads promoting the claim that the best (perhaps only) way to prove love to a spouse or partner is to spend a certain amount of money on a small gift. Marketing slogans like “Every kiss starts with Kay” successfully intertwined consumerism with romance.

Historically, most of the advertising around Valentine’s Day has been specifically aimed at men. Marketers have portrayed the holiday as a day when men should go out of their way to buy flashy, flashy gifts, almost always to their female partners. There’s a self-perpetuating phenomenon here: Valentine’s day ads tend to portray men as stoic breadwinners and providers, which in turn perpetuates these male stereotypes across our culture, says author and therapist Andrews Myler Dr. said. Specializes in the mental health of men and adolescent boys.

All of these can place a disproportionate amount of emotional stress on men. Smailer, whose analysis is specific to heterosexual men, said the unrealistic expectations advertised in Valentine’s Day ads can make it particularly difficult for many men during the year. “There is an expectation that a man in a committed relationship with a woman will get her jewelry, or at least flowers that are ridiculously expensive, and [that] There will be an expensive romantic dinner. It’s the standard expectation of what you do on Valentine’s Day…it’s stressful because if you don’t it’s usually interpreted as a sign that you may not be as committed to the relationship as you used to be or as it should be. ”

Dr Jennefer Ho, Senior Clinical Manager at Executive Mental Health, expressed similar concerns: “First, if single men do not have a partner, advertising may distress them. Second, men in relationships may feel they have to make big moves and buys To prove their love. Imply that if men don’t meet these expectations, they don’t love their partner. There’s also a message that big purchases and gestures are the only way to show love.

“The effects on mental health may include increased depression and feelings of [as if they’re not] Good enough. Also, as Valentine’s Day approaches, men may feel anxious. If they don’t live up to their expectations, they may worry about buying the perfect gift or their partner’s anger. I think it’s fair to say that Valentine’s standards for men are unattainable. “

Of course, women are also targeted in Valentine’s Day ads. The main difference seems to be that men are often portrayed as givers of gifts, while women are often portrayed as recipients. Expectations can be inflated on both sides of the equation, and if not met, can create shame in men, disappointment in women, and general unrest in relationships.

Valentine’s Day is by no means the biggest advertising day of the year. The spot is reserved for the Super Bowl, which happens to be the day before Valentine’s Day this year, thus eclipsing much of the holiday’s ad space. But Valentine’s Day does seem to be unique, emphasizing a single narrative that repeats year after year: men buy women gifts, get sex in return, and keep the relationship for another year. Of course, the story isn’t always told so explicitly, but the implicit plotline is usually there.

“There are several issues with the whole setup,” Smiler said. “One is that it does reinforce the idea that men’s purchasing power is as good as theirs … and then in return for that purchasing power, he gets sex, or at least something sexual … so it does place men in the class for this role, not just as a home provider, but as [the one who provides] These great gifts are meant to keep a woman’s attention, especially her sexual attention. Presumably, if he got it wrong, there would be less attention and less sex. “

What people and brands should focus on

To lighten the negativity around Valentine’s Day, Smaller says he tries to get his clients to start thinking about and communicating what gift-giving really means to them personally. Some couples may think this shouldn’t be a priority and choose other, cheaper but more fulfilling ways to celebrate their relationship. Advertisers can also play an active role in changing the sometimes harmful cultural narrative that currently surrounds Valentine’s Day, he said.

“Ideally, it’s two ways. It’s not a celebration of a woman’s love for a man, it’s a celebration of love and romance, [so there] It’s supposed to be a two-way gift…I want to see ads for women’s jewelry for men, just to see the other side. So maybe we can at least strike some balance in that, even though gift-giving is a sign of your love, it’s still present in the zeitgeist. “

Dr. Karen Freberg, professor of strategic communications at the University of Louisville, has this advice for brands seeking to minimize the negative mental health impact of Valentine’s Day ads: “Brands should embrace empathy, and the team behind the brand should ask themselves:” How would we feel if we heard this information? As a brand, how can we contribute to the overall mental health of our audience? What different interpretations of this information could our audience interpret? If the audience is stressed, how can we reduce their stress?

“I think brands would be more effective if they took a step back and asked these questions during brainstorming sessions. Also, we can’t assume that everyone will view Valentine’s Day messages the same way. We don’t know what the audience might be like. Battle or association, so brands need to take a step back, reflect, evaluate, and then move forward.”

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