Yes, Valentine’s Day is upon us — that marketing miracle, second only to Christmas as an opportunity to move merchandise. On this day, single people around the world are made to feel like crap (no doubt contributing to a spike in Ben & Jerry’s sales), while those coupled up are bombarded with intense pressure to express their devotion in monetary form through products and services all made doubly expensive especially for this day of luuurv. As an ex-Marxist ex once told me years ago, I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day. No Virginia, there is no Saint Valentine.
So if there ever was a promotion that resonated with the cackling cynic in most of us, surely it must be this amazing one currently on offer at White Castle. That’s right, this Valentine’s Day you can book your own private booth at a nearby White Castle and get table service while eating sacks of sliders under candlelight. You can even buy special Valentine’s Day T-shirts and fuzzy pink blankets. The whole thing seems too ridiculous to be true, but that’s exactly the point, and why White Castle is brilliant. As a brand they are much more of a mythical idea than a gastronomic reality for most consumers. Think of how much free publicity they got from being the unicorn of fast-food establishments in Harold & Kumar.
Of course if you have actually been to a White Castle, you know that those little tiny burgers made from 3mm-thick slices of Spam-like protein hardly replicate the feeling of goodness and satisfaction that washes over you when you’re just imagining the brand. The idea totally trumps reality. The fact that White Castle is self-aware about this is what makes them the favorite black sheep in America’s fast-food landscape. Like the Snuggie, it’s betting (correctly) that more people will respond with humor to what they represent than to what their product actually is. The corniness of this Valentine’s Day promotion will most definitely get some unlikely people through the door that day, and what’s more, there will be a ton of organic buzz generated from it with people posting online photos of themselves being cheeky-romantical with a slider in each hand.