The Compelling Commodity of Love

What is a commodity? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and other various dictionary websites, a commodity is something that can be bought and sold, or a good or service that is interchangeable with other similar commodities. Most of these are defined as hard and physical goods like food, metals, and textiles. However for advertisers, commodities are much more. Take our topic of the week. Love.  This upcoming weekend is Valentine’s Day, which like many other big holidays in our country, has been turned into a commodity that businesses swarm to take advantage of in the form of influential and effective advertisements

According to National Jeweler  (2015), a consumer research agency, Americans will spend almost $4.8 billion dollars on jewelry this upcoming Valentine’s Day. Due to the fact that Valentine’s Day has become the expected holiday to buy a loved one a nice gift of some sort, it is the advertising culture we have come to accept that has really influenced us to make these purchases.

One common example is Kay Jewelers, a huge mall-based jewelry store owned by Sterling Jewelry. Kay Jewelers creates a perfect example of the influence in love as a commodity, heavily influencing shoppers to buy their products through their advertisements.

Look at the Kay Jewelers “Love Embrace” commercial above. It’s corny, but effective. Did you notice the theme throughout the commercial? Obviously it’s loving and embracing your loved ones, but with a clever but cliché twist on how buying one of Kay’s diamond necklaces will “surround her with the strength of your love”, pun intended. If you look at most of Kay’s commercial, which are all very similar to this one, you can see the idea and motif of how love is being turned into a commodity that sells.

The key to Kay Jewelers success is their focus on how we create and reinforce cultural values with the purchases we make, in other words the ritual approach to advertising. According to Hovland and Wolburg, the ritual approach “Isn’t just about sending messages through space, but the maintenance of society in time and representing shared beliefs within a culture” (59). We have gradually transformed into a society that links action, such as buying a diamond necklace, to love; the bigger, or more expensive the gift, the greater the giver’s love is perceived. Valentine’s Day is not a ritual in itself; it is merely just another day. However, advertising has conditioned us to rank one’s love on “good” jewelry and “bad” jewelry eventually attributing the amount of love one feels for another to a physical gift.

What are your feelings about Valentine’s Day? Are you expecting a great experience from your boyfriend or girlfriend? If so, think about how advertisements have created a misconception about love?

-Colby Cummings, Connor Gold, Chase Seymour