Hallmark Promotes Little Moments Over Big Milestones


After 100 years of being the leading producer of greeting cards, Hallmark is reinventing itself, and its marketing, to compete in a new world. Not only is Hallmark embracing new media, it is changing the very essence of its branding strategy.

This week, Hallmark officially launched a new campaign called “Life is a Special Occasion,” designed to help consumers recognize and celebrate not just big milestones but “little ‘us’ moments” such as the “Mornings” spot above, in which moms surprise sleeping kids in a spot pegged to Valentine’s Day.[more]

Lisa Macpherson, Hallmark’s Chief Marketing Officer, said in a press release about the new brand positioning that the company’s target audience — moms and grandmothers — have lives that are so busy they “can’t always be in the moment.”

“Hallmark’s goal is to provide the inspiration, ideas and solutions to help consumers take pause and recognize, linger and capture the moments they share with family and friends,” she added. “This isn’t expected to happen every day… but it can happen any day.”

This is a lot more than marketing mumbo-jumbo, because the underlying reason for the big strategic shift is profound: Most people think of sending a greeting card to mark a special occasion, like a birthday or wedding, or a holiday, like Valentine’s Day (which, legend has it, was the event for which the first greeting card was created, back in the 1400s).

Also, there are countless “moments” in a given year, versus a fixed number of “occasions,” which opens the selling and marketing opportunities for the brand and its consumers.

Jeanie Caggiano, EVP and Creative Director at Leo Burnett, the ad agency that developed “Life is a Special Occasion,” says consumer research suggested “the best parts of [consumers’] lives are often the small, perfectly imperfect moments between the milestones — however, in the blur of life, those special moments often pass them by.” 

That’s why you’ll see Hallmark expanding its brand relevance beyond just special occasions. The company is expanding its product line as well.

Hallmark now includes such modern-day innovations as recordable storybooks, personalized greetings, and personalized plates — even recordable story books and “story buddies” for kids, which the brand sells worldwide (see the brand’s Australian spot below).

The brand isn’t missing out on the new media revolution, either; it will be “starting a new conversation” with consumers with a comprehensive integrated media strategy including advertising, public relations, email, direct mail, video, search engine marketing and, of course, social media.

In fact, last month, Hallmark introduced the new brand campaign through online and in-person activities at the BlissDom conference, an annual gathering of more than 700 influential women bloggers. BlissDom attendee and blogger Kim Borchert said that Hallmark “started many conversations at BlissDom this year. It was great to hear other moms and bloggers talking about what we consider to be our perfectly imperfect moments. Everyone is so different, and Hallmark really celebrates that through this campaign.”

“We are committed to Hallmark’s brand purpose of inspiring meaningful connections that enhance relationships and enrich lives,” said Macpherson of the new branding campaign, which encompasses new commercials and print ads as well as digital marketing. “However, as our products and services expand to meet consumer needs, we have an opportunity to expand Hallmark’s brand relevance in our consumer’s daily lives as well. Life is a Special Occasion was developed to help achieve that goal.”

Evidently, Hallmark has what it takes to keep its brand relevant in a way that is likely to resonate with its target audience.