Mars Wrigley and Bumble Use Experiential to Embrace Galentine’s Day

Branded pop-up with new partner shows the holiday is changing—and growing

Mars Wrigley's Sweet ReTreat includes
Mars Wrigley's Sweet ReTreat includes "profile styling" stations presented by Bumble. Courtesy of Mars Wrigley
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As brands launch Valentine’s Day-themed campaigns, a select few are celebrating the alternative: Galentine’s Day. What began as a faux holiday invented by Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in 2010 has become a popular go-to event for companies trying to reach more consumers.

The unofficial holiday falls on Feb. 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. It encourages women to get together and celebrate their friendships with an itinerary of activities—from spa excursions to boozy brunches.

Mars Wrigley is engaging consumers around Galentine’s Day with the Sweet ReTreat, a branded, candy-filled experience in New York that acknowledges how Valentine’s Day continues to evolve. The confectionery manufacturer’s third annual experience, a Candy Land-meets-29Rooms pop-up, showcases its brands including Dove, Starburst and Life Savers through themed interactive stations and photo booths. The pop-up is free for consumers who RSVP on a custom event landing page.

The experience offers manicures in Starburst colors.
Courtesy of Mars Wrigley

This year’s activation is partly inspired by consumer data. According to a 2019 Wakefield survey, Galentine’s Day celebrations have increased 63% in the U.S. since 2016 and 48% of Americans said they rekindle connections with friends or loved ones in the winter.

The pop-up also aims to engage consumers when the demand for candy is high; According to a national survey by the National Confectioners Association, 94% of Americans prefer to receive candy and chocolate for Valentine’s Day more than any other traditional gifts associated with Feb. 14.

To present Sweet ReTreat, which kicked off Wednesday and runs through tonight in SoHo, Mars Wrigley partnered with Bumble for the first time. Hank Izzo, vp, marketing, Mars Wrigley, said the pop-up’s previous two editions have revolved around the idea of consumers treating themselves, either solo or with friends. For this year’s event, the brand wanted to pivot to the theme of making Galentine’s Day connections, which is why they tapped the female-focused dating, friend-finding and networking app as a partner. Bumble has had a steady presence in the experiential space for the past few years, with activations and projects that tout female empowerment or encourage event attendees to make intimate connections.

“As we were going through conceptual ideas on how we would activate, we kept coming back to the theme of connection. One of the things you find with our brands is they connect people through celebration, sharing, gifting and rewarding,” Izzo said. “It just so happens that Bumble connects people through their platform. Our partnership amplifies that theme.”

The pop-up encourages guests to fill bags with candy before they leave.
Courtesy of Mars Wrigley

Bumble is presenting the Dove Chocolate All About You Profile ReFresh station, where the brand’s “profile stylists” will provide tips for guests to improve their Bumble profiles through photos and text. Mars Wrigley also worked with Bumble for the Life Savers and Altoids Mint-or and Mintee Lounge, which offers mentoring sessions from employees at Bumble and Mars Wrigley as well as guests like former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman. The mentors offer advice on personal branding, making first impressions and networking.

“We know the importance of taking these relationships from the app into real life, and we’re constantly looking for ways to create engaging environments where our community can connect,” said Chelsea Cain Maclin, vp, marketing for Bumble, in a statement.

Guests can also get manicures in Starburst color themes and contribute to a wall of inspirational notes that doubles as a photo backdrop. Additionally, the pop-up offers stations for guests to fill bags with a variety of candy and a Dove hot chocolate and ice cream bar.

Guests can leave notes of encouragement on a pink Starburst-themed wall.
Courtesy of Mars Wrigley.

According to Mars Wrigley, there has already been more engagement around this year’s event than last year’s activation. The brand reports RSVPs surpassed 1,000 people by the time it opened Wednesday, while last year’s event drew around 1,000 attendees across two days. The brand also reports the pop-up has garnered around one million social impressions so far through posts on Mars Wrigley’s Facebook and Instagram pages before and during the event.

According to data collected by online event invitation website Evite, more than 116,000 guests received an invite to a Galentine’s Day event in 2019 compared to 400 in 2011. Diane Malloy, svp, advertising and advertising ops, Evite, said brands can benefit from leveraging the holiday over Valentine’s Day because they’ll reach a broader group of consumers.

“We’ve seen a resounding interest in how people connect and how important human connections are to our longevity,” Malloy said.

To celebrate the holiday, the website launched a “Galentine’s Guide to Staying In,” a quiz for users to decide what type of event they should plan with their friends at home.

Mars Wrigley isn’t the only candy company to launch a campaign that challenges traditional Valentine’s Day practices. In 2018, Godiva urged women in Japan to stop practicing the custom of buying “obligation chocolates” for male coworkers on Valentine’s Day with a full-page newspaper ad and a Galentine’s Day-themed TV spot. Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.