Loves Me, Loves Me Not: What Marketers Can Learn From Misunderstood Love Songs

misunderstood songs valentines day marketing

By Schuyler Rooth, Content Manager and Beth Ann Mayer, Social Media Manager

Though we won’t have candy hearts for the first time in 153 years this Valentine’s Day, sweet tunes are still available. But when curating that perfect playlist, listen up: That song that sounds lovely may actually be a scathing (or sad) farewell. 

Curating a playlist is similar to creating a marketing campaign: It needs to have the full package. If the tone, voice and format are on-pitch, but the words are singing a different tune, the message will get lost in translation.  Avoid making the mistakes of the people about to choose these tracks for Valentine’s Day in your marketing campaigns to ensure your customers continue to love you.    

Related Content: The Dream: The Power of Words to Make Change

“My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion 

The Song: The title is a tad ambiguous — the song could be positive and about love going on forever or a break-up song (my heart will go on without you). “Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime” sounds beautiful, but anyone who has seen Titanic links this Oscar-winning tune, the movie’s theme song, with sadness. It’s best to keep it off Valentine’s Day playlists unless that special someone is an epic Rose-Jack fan. 
What This Means for Marketers: Make sure your message and customer experience are clear, consistent and deliver on their promise. If a customer is seeing upbeat ads on social and then goes to your site and it’s dark and brooding, they’ll likely get confused about who you are as a brand.   

“Always a Woman to Me” by Billy Joel

The Song: The tone and voice sound pitch perfect in this Billy Joel slow song, but listen closely, and you’ll think twice before slow dancing to it.  Right at the top, Joel croons, “She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes/She can ruin your faith with her casual lies.” If that’s not enough, “And she'll promise you more than the garden of Eden/Then she'll carelessly cut you and laugh while you're bleeding/But she brings out the best and the worst you can be/Blame it all on yourself 'cause she's always a woman to me.”
What This Means for Marketers: Many brands are very concerned with tone and voice — as they should be — but don’t skimp on the copy. Words matter. Sarcastic copy and a warm, fuzzy image may not jive. 

“Lovefool” by The Cardigans

The Song: This disco-pop number is best known for its appearance in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. While the chords are major and full of songbird vibes, the lyrics paint a different picture. The narrator begs her lover to declare his undying love for her, whether he feels it or not. “Love me love me/Say that you love me/Fool me fool me/Go on and fool me/Love me love me/Pretend that you love me,” she sings, disguising the threat with her sweet crooning. There’s implied danger waiting for the object of her affection if he doesn’t follow her wishes. 
What This Means for Marketers: While we know that a guilt trip can motivate people to make moves, it’s easy to cross the line. A threat is still a threat even if you sugar coat it. Don’t run the risk of scaring off your customers. For instance, if you’re a non-profit, try telling your customers uplifting success stories rather than guilt-tripping them.

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

The SongThis ‘80s hit is another wolf in sheep’s clothing. While its a frequent standard at joyful occasions like weddings and parties, the lyrics tell a story of evil. Each verse, most of which sound harmless lyrically, ends with an ominous “I’ll be watching you.” The song tells a story of deceit and downright stalking. Sting even admitted he was aiming to write a spooky song when he was interviewed about it. “Every Breath You Take” proves that not everything that sounds beautiful is beautiful.
What This Means for Marketers: Make sure you don’t inadvertently (or intentionally) include mixed messages in your marketing. People who know to read between the lines will be onto you. In a marketing scenario, instead of clobbering your copy with corny puns, get straight to the point. Keep your messaging concise.