Hallmark’s Biggest Ever Mother’s Day Promotion

The Point: An inside look at the world’s biggest greeting card company’s “biggest-ever” promotion.

Hallmark’s (www.hallmark.com) research confirmed what every son or daughter intuitively knows about their Mom: The most important thing you can do for her on Mother’s Day is to let her know how much you value and appreciate her. But how do you translate that into a marketing campaign? SAM recently spoke with David Smith, director of integrated marketing communications for Hallmark. Here’s what he had to say:

SAM: Can you tell our readers a little bit about the origins of the “One in a Million Mom Campaign?”

DS: When we did our research and when we talked to consumers, they felt that the single most important thing about Mother’s Day is simply to let Mom know that she’s valued and appreciated. It’s really kind of a back-to-the-basics approach. Mom does so many things and has all her many different roles … the most important thing we can do for her on Mother’s Day is to let her know how much we value her and how much we appreciate her.

SAM: Sounds good.

DS: Yeah. It really is good. It comes back to the very simple, fundamental truth that Mom really is this unbelievable die-bolt to the family. There are times where she may be taken for granted, so, especially on this one day, let’s be sure to let her know how much we really do appreciate her. This really led us down the path of the whole theme or idea we came up with of “One in a Million Moms,” [and] how priceless Mom is.

Giving Mom a Hallmark card on Mother’s Day, obviously, is part of letting her know that she is valued. But what we decided to do — and this is the first time we’ve ever done this — is to create a game tied into Mother’s Day where one Mom is going to be rewarded with a million dollars simply because somebody has given her the right Hallmark Mother’s Day card. So with one card, that looks just like any other cards that are already out there, someone is going to buy that card [and win a million dollars]. We will run a commercial on the day after Mother’s Day — during “the Today Show” — and on that commercial we will show what the winning code is, … and that Mom’s going to win a million dollars.

SAM: Great. And will you know where that card is going to be shipped, just in case that person didn’t watch “the Today Show” commercial?

DS: There are a lot of security measures put into the planning of this. Somebody does know where that card was placed. It wasn’t even going to be shipped; it was going to be placed into a card display in a store. We know for sure that it’s in a display, and since with our Mother’s Day cards we sell most of the ones that are put out there, there’s a very, very good chance that somebody will purchase this card.

SAM: Other than the television ad on the day after Mother’s Day, what else are you doing to let people know about this?

DS: Starting April 23, we have national TV running all the way up through Mother’s Day. We have a couple different ads that are going to run. One is about the million-dollar card game, and the second game that we’re also doing for Mother’s Day is for a specially marked box of Hallmark chocolates that you can purchase for $3.99 when you buy three cards. In this box of chocolates, everyone is guaranteed at least of winning a prize. The grand prize is $50,000. There’s also a Hawaiian vacation, cash, and then phone cards. Everybody will win at least a ten-minute phone card. So, we have two different commercials that will run throughout the season: one about the card game and one about the chocolate.

SAM: Wait, are they purchasing three Mother’s Day cards? That’s a lot of Moms.

DS: It can be any Hallmark card. We imagine most of them will be Mother’s Day cards, but we didn’t want to exclude people that had other needs during the season. We are also doing an essay contest where consumers can write in about why their Mom is one in a million and we’ll judge those entries and come up with a winner, and that winning Mom will win a million dollars. So we’re giving away a million dollars to two different winners as well as all the prizes with the chocolate.

SAM: Have you used games before? Is this a new kind of marketing approach for you?

DS: We have used games but nowhere near this extensively and not to this magnitude. It is part of a new strategy. In the beginning of the holiday time period last year was really when we first launched our integrated marketing strategy. We’ll do four major events each year. We are going to vary the promotional tactic between these events simply to keep them fresh and to keep things working for the consumer. While we did an integrated event at Valentine’s Day also, it didn’t really have games included. Mother’s Day is the first integrated effort that’s really driven by games.

Of course, we don’t know what the response will be. We’ve done considerable testing with this contest, and we’ve found consumers just love it. We really feel that it’s a great thing and the right thing for Hallmark to do.

SAM: In terms of promoting the game, you’re promoting it with television. I’m assuming you’re doing some print.

DS: We’re doing both TV and radio. Through our Gold Crown card, which has millions of households, we’ll do direct mail to get the word out to our Gold Crown members. [Editor’s Note: The Gold Crown card is a frequent buyers program.] There will be some PR around this to develop and create awareness. If you’re ever in our stores or in our departments, you’ll see all of the POP that we do. We make sure that when they see it on TV, they also see it at retail.

SAM: Is there a Web component to your promotions for this?

DS: Yes, there is. When you go to Hallmark.com, you’ll be able to see all the details. You also can enter your Mom to the write-in-and-win contest, through Hallmark.com.

SAM: Well, it sounds like a very fun promotion.

DS: We think it’s going to be great. We really think it will catch the consumer’s attention because it is very different for Hallmark. It’s really tied back into that great basic principle: Be sure on Mother’s Day you really let your Mom know that you do appreciate and value what she does.

SAM: In your advertising for something like this, do you target certain ads or certain promotions to any particular demographics, or is it more of a general consumer kind of approach?

DS: Traditionally, it’s always been very female-focused. We have with the integrated program skewed some of our buying toward a younger Mom. We’re really trying to focus in on young Moms with kids that are under 12. We’re not doing that at the expense of other Moms; we’re just saying that with these programs we are more inclusive of the younger Moms as well.

Originally published in SAM Magazine

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