||Greeting Card Companies Stock Up On Sponsorship
Greeting Card Companies Place More Focus on Sponsorship to Reach New Audiences and Promote Digital Offerings
Looking for a new category to pitch? Does your event draw young adults? If so, why not try greeting card companies?
Seeking to offset declining sales and an aging customer base, greeting card companies are signing new deals to reach young adults, sample their latest products and promote smart phone apps and other digital offerings.
Much of that activity is driven by American Greetings Corp. and its various brands.
For example, American Greetings sponsored the Aug. 3-5 Lollapalooza music festival on behalf of its Recycled Paper Greetings brand. The deal follows a partnership with the recently-concluded Pitchfork Music Festival on behalf of the company's JustWink greeting card line.
In addition to music festivals, JustWink is sponsoring surfing tournaments and other events that draw young influencers. American Greetings is using the ties to sample the JustWink line, which features quirky copy and illustrations designed for the Millennial generation.
"Every industry is trying to reach a younger demographic. Whether it's an auto manufacturer or stationary company, everyone wants to cultivate younger consumers," said Kathy Krassner, director of communications with the Greeting Card Assn., the trade group for the greeting card industry.
The sponsorships come amid a backdrop of declining sales. Sales of greeting cards have been on a steady decline since 2005 and are predicted to continue their downward momentum through 2015, according to Mintel Group Ltd., a market research firm.
The decline in sales is driven in part by the growing number of consumers who are replacing traditional cards with digital content, which in turn has prompted some companies to beef up their online offerings.
For example, American Greetings last year introduced a smart phone app in conjunction with the launch of the JustWink line. Consumers can use the app to customize and send digital cards via text, email or Facebook.
Richard Flores, director of integrated marketing communications with Papyrus-Recycling Greetings, Inc., spearheaded the Lollapalooza sponsorship. GMR Marketing manages the JustWink program.
American Greetings partnered with Taylor Swift's U.S. tour on behalf of the singer's greeting card line. The company promoted verses from the cards on trucks that transported the tour.
Hallmark Puts Its Mark On Causes
Hallmark Cards, Inc. -- the other major player in the greeting card category -- focuses on two nonprofits: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and UNICEF.
The privately-held company activates the ties with donation-with-purchase programs around special lines of greeting cards and ornaments.
For example, Hallmark leverages its 13-year-old Komen partnership with a donation-with-purchase program around a keepsake ornament. The company makes a $2 donation with each purchase of the Angle of Grace ornament.
Hallmark gives Komen a minimum of $250,000 per year and has raised more than $3.2 million over the life of the relationship.
Hallmark also leverages Komen with Card for the Cure, around which participating Hallmark Gold Crown stores distribute a specially designed line of Komen-themed cards. Each card includes an educational message that reminds consumers about the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
"They help us reach millions of people with an educational message," said Carrie Glasscock, Komen's director of corporate relations.
Hallmark also sponsors the Race for the Cure stop in Kansas City, the location of the company's corporate headquarters.
Like its partnership with Komen, Hallmark leverages its six-year-old UNICEF tie with a line of specially designed greeting cards. The company donates 15 percent of every net wholesale shipment to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
(Source: IEG Sponsorship Report, 07/23/12)
What's In It For You:
These kinds of companies lend themselves to fabulously integrated campaigns. Their digital offering can be pushed out through your station's website, via fun apps (does your station offer an alarm clock app? Imagine waking every morning with a special greeting from Hallmark or American Greetings sent by someone extra special? I imagine some Moms and Dads would love to have this option for their kids who've just gone away to college...). Onsite presence at your station events boosts awareness, but be sure to build in some activation elements to generate consumer engagement with the band. And the sentimentality that is intrinsic to the greeting card industry lends itself to participation in any Cause Marketing campaign.
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