Hallmark Reminds Consumers That Little Things Mean a Lot

Ads Focus on Meaning Behind Small Gestures Like Sending Cards

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Amid the economic downturn, marketers in categories as diverse as cars, personal computers, fast food, soft drinks, beer and insurance have touted their relative value to boost sales. Add greeting cards to that list.

Hallmark's latest ad campaign from longtime agency Leo Burnett touts greeting cards as "the biggest little thing you can do," emphasizing the gratitude and appreciation that can come from such an inexpensive gesture.

Small gesture, big reaction
The spots specifically tout a 99-cent line of cards Hallmark has sold since the 1990s, but the campaign is a response to the recession, said Rob Reeder, Hallmark's advertising director. "We want to make sure we're remaining relevant," he said. "This is a way of reminding people that you can get this sort of emotional reaction from a small gesture of sending a card."

Mr. Reeder also noted that consumer awareness of the 99-cent cards is low, and that the company was running the ads in part to change that.

The campaign will feature a series of 15-second TV spots which show how spouses, children and mentors respond to unexpected cards. Those ads, which use John Mayer's "Say What You Need to Say" as a musical backdrop, will also be the centerpieces of rich-media banner ads. When a consumer clicks on the digital ads, also created by Burnett, they can choose the card that's given to the person in the ad -- or choose not to have them receive one at all. Then they can sit back and view the different reactions by the person in the ad to receiving the card (or not).

Tough times
"We look at it from a cultural view, which is that people are turning inward right now," said Burnett Executive Creative Director Tim Pontarelli. "They really need each other to get through these kinds of times."

Mr. Reeder said Hallmark's ad spending for this year is likely to remain flat with 2008 levels. The marketer spent $141 million on measured media in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The work begins airing next week.

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