Love is in the air, and no one is more enthralled with Valentine’s Day than florists, chocolatiers, and greeting card vendors. Consider these Valentine’s Day statistics for the U.S. alone: 110 million roses are sold February 14, 58 billion pounds of chocolates, and 145 million Valentine’s Day cards. Named for St. Valentine who died on February 14 after being tortured and beheaded by a Roman Emperor, Valentine’s Day, in the romantic sense that as we think of it today, did not catch on until the Victorian era and owes much of its popular success to rapid advances in printing, paper and mass production technologies. Over the ages, Valentine’s Day evolved its own romantic ideographs – the color red, stylized heart shape, Cupid shooting arrows dipped in desire and erotic love, birds chirping to attract a mate, and typographic flourishes bursting with rapture. The Victorian card, on the left, is overlaid with a delicate doily that reveals embossed, die-cut printed images on the paper beneath. The contemporary card, on the right, designed by lettering artist Jessica Hische, expresses the exuberant complexity of love by the way the letterforms are drawn.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
In the United States, Halloween is an $8 billion a year industry – and growing. It is second only to Christmas in terms of generating sales, and it ranks No. 1 in candy sales, topping even Valentine’s Day. Halloween is also the third largest party occasion, after New Year’s and the Super Bowl. And it is not just kids who celebrate. More than 62% of American adults between the ages of 18-24 say they wear Halloween costumes; 44% between the ages of 25-34, and 40% between the ages of 34-44.
The demographic spread of Halloween revelers gives mask and costume makers a lot of latitude. Adults tend to favor masks of the real heroes and villains in the news; teen boys go for gore and gorillas, and little girls are drawn to storybook heroines like the Little Mermaid. Celebrities rating their own mask is nearly the equivalent of being honored in a wax museum.
The reason we find this relevant to our business/design blog is that Halloween is a tribute to marketing genius. It’s not a patriotic holiday, not a religious holiday, and not an historic commemoration. Like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, it’s a “merchant-promoted holiday” devised largely to sell more products.
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