Hallmark turns its centennial into a crowning achievement

Hallmark is best known for paper greeting cards that primarily address milestones and holidays. On January 10, the company began celebrating its own milestone.

Client Hallmark (Kansas City, MO)

PR agency Fleishman-Hillard (Kansas City, MO)

Campaign Hallmark Centennial Campaign

Duration Jan. 10, 2010-Jan. 10, 2011

Budget Under $1 million

Hallmark is best known for paper greeting cards that primarily address milestones and holidays. On January 10, the company began celebrating its own milestone. With help from Fleishman-Hillard, its AOR of 22 years, it kicked off a yearlong centennial campaign celebrating the brand's rich history and highlighting its current relevance.

PR director Julie O'Dell says Hallmark reorganized in 2009, expanded its product development strategy, and carefully defined consumer targets.

"We'll continue to have things customers need to celebrate milestones, but we'll also be there to celebrate the small moments of everyday living," she adds.

Strategy

O'Dell says Hallmark wanted to acknowledge retailers, business partners, and employees, leveraging those partnerships "to demonstrate we've got another 100 years or more in us."

External communications included media relations, a website, and social media outreach. O'Dell says the team worked to increase its interactive online presence, adding that overall messaging now focuses on "consumers, their needs, and how Hallmark can help them."

Hallmark sought to tie centennial messaging to products, as well as its role in helping consumers communicate and share. Fleishman SVP Liz Hawks says it was key "to make a big splash" the first week, and the centennial was used to hook many top-tier outlets that aren't typically interested in product launches alone.

Internal communications efforts, including on-site events and an employee blog, engaged staff in Hallmark's vision, hoping to instill confidence about the future, as both revenue and headcount declined in 2009.

Tactics

Hallmark100years.com debuted January 10, while a weeklong celebration at Hallmark's headquarters began the next day.

The site engages consumers with interactive elements, such as a "Share Your Hallmark Moments" section. It also showcases historical content, notes from writers, and the employee blog.

"Through the centennial website, we were looking to provide behind-the-scenes access for consumers," says Hawks.

Media outreach, which began in January 2010, integrated radio, TV, and digital media, says Hawks, adding that the team customized content.

On January 14, Nightline filmed a segment at headquarters that aired February 11.

The local Kansas City media was a priority, while 100-year-old archives provided plenty of angles and content, O'Dell adds.

Hallmark tied centennial messaging to outreach around holidays and new products, such as webcam greetings. Updates and information were posted on Facebook and Twitter, while YouTube houses video content.

Internal tactics included weekly one-minute "Hallmark Minute" videos featuring stories, facts, and historical information aimed at employees. Department celebrations included a traveling art exhibit and numerous volunteer efforts. CEO Donald Hall, Jr. and president of Hallmark North America David Hall visited employees at every facility worldwide.

Results

Fleishman reported that 53,011 unique visitors have been to Hallmark100years.com as of mid-October. Blog visits are just under 34,500, with 155 posts and 2,724 comments.

Media coverage was attained in outlets such as Better Homes & Gardens and Brides.com. In addition, reports O'Dell, a summer 2010 Kenexa survey showed employee engagement up 6% compared to 2008.

Future

The team is currently focused on holiday campaigns and launches, and will continue to drive centennial messaging.

There's little inherent power in promoting any corporate anniversary without clear, strong links to the past, present, and future. It was particularly critical here as Hallmark's history is so steeped in paper communication, which has lost some of its relevance in the digital landscape. This team did a great job focusing on the brand's forward movement while showcasing its impressive heritage. Given last year's layoffs and Hallmark's new direction, employee engagement was especially vital. The team seems to have succeeded nicely on this front.

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