Surprising pop-up store challenges Valentine’s Day conventions
Talking teddy bears. Boxes of candy. Jewelry. Greeting cards covered with hearts. These may sound like typical Valentine’s Day gifts for your sweetie-pie.
But at the One Love Foundations’s #LoveBetter pop-up shop in New York City, such items aren’t exactly tokens of affection. They’re not even for sale. Rather, the products are designed to start meaningful conversations about healthy and unhealthy relationships by shining a spotlight on toxic behaviors.
The bear, for example, suffers from mood swings. Press his tummy, and he says stuff like “You’re pathetic!” quickly followed by, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that.” As for the candy, well, those are Fat-Shaming Chocolates, with a single, lonely piece inside, along with a not-so-loving reminder to “watch you weight.”
Also on the shelves: a Follow-Your-Heart Pendant, complete with a GPS tracker so you can obsessively/compulsively keep tabs on someone special, and colorful cards with messages like, “I miss when you were hotter” and “You’re mine, so do what I say.”
“We saw Valentine’s Day as an important opportunity to raise awareness because it is a time when young couples cover up potentially unhealthy relationship behaviors with gifts,” Anastasia Garcia, content director at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, which developed the initiative, tells AdFreak. “We chose to create a disguised Valentine’s Day gift store to challenge young couples to think twice about the unhealthy behaviors we normalize all year long.”
She adds, “We intended to create a fully immersive experience for young couples to explore these items at their own pace. We designed the store to be welcoming, educational and safe. The experience was facilitated by One Love ambassadors to encourage questions and discussion, and provide local resources for those affected, if needed.”
As for the unhealthy messaging plastered on every item, “we borrowed the harmful language directly from stories of members of the One Love community so that it felt authentic and relatable,” says TBWA senior copywriter Ricardo Franco.
Other stuff on display includes bottles of vino (a poor way to get him/her “in the mood”), Be-Little Candy Hearts (“Loser!” “Idiot!” “You’re So Stupid!”) and Black-Hearted Helium Balloons (“Let me check your texts,” one demands).
“They key takeaway message is that love is a skill that we can all work on,” says One Love CEO Katie Hood. “By educating the next generation about how to build healthy relationships—something current generations have never experienced in a scaled way—we can change the statistics around abuse of every kind.”