Hallmark going for the Gold

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$100 mil effort targets customers spending the most

Hallmark Cards Monday breaks the first TV advertising touting its top-of-the-line Gold Crown stores, part of a $100 million marketing effort aimed at higher-spending customers.

The move comes one month after the No. 1 greeting card marketer unveiled a plan to spend $152 million on advertising and marketing to customers at the other end of the spectrum, through its new Expressions by Hallmark lower-price brand. That line is sold through mass-merchandise channels such as Wal-Mart Stores and Kmart Corp.

THE `GOLD CROWN' EXPERIENCE

The new Gold Crown effort centers on three 30-second spots airing on network, spot and cable TV. The commercials highlight the shopping experience at Hallmark's 5,000 Gold Crown stores, which have met the marketer's highest merchandise and service standards.

The new theme line from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago: "You'll feel better inside!"

In June, the first TV commercials will hit for Hallmark's Gold Crown Card frequent-buyer program, which rewards shoppers with 10 points redeemable for Hallmark merchandise with every dollar spent at a Gold Crown store.

The program, administered by Carlson Marketing Group, Minneapolis, has amassed 13 million cards in circulation since its launch in August 1994.

TAKING CARE OF CUSTOMERS

Through intensive care of its best customers and by bumping up marketing and database programs targeting those people, Hallmark hopes to offset any negative consumer images resulting from its new focus on mass-merchandise channels.

The company also hopes to stem incremental market share losses to bookstores and other specialty retailers selling higher-quality, higher-price greeting cards and small gifts, industry analysts say.

Hallmark has a 42% share of the estimated $10 billion greeting card industry.

Copyright April 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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