Selling TV and Music -- Playing the Emotion Card

All of a sudden it seems like the hip way to market TV and music entertainment has nothing to do with ratings, radio airplay, cable subscribers, or a music video; the key is having your own birthday card store.

American Greetings Corp. seemingly wants to follow in the TV entertainment footsteps of Hallmark Cards (which has a cable network and a TV production company) by acquiring a stake in a TV marketing and production company headed by former Fox Kids Network and former Hallmark TV executive Margaret Loesch.

The intent is to use American Greetings retail stores to help market properties - especially kid properties - into TV and other entertainment areas.

American Greetings as well has its own kid properties such as Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears. American Greetings has 600 card shops and 35,000 retail card departments in North America.

The Hatchery has already produced a number TV shows and direct-to-video features such as "Goosebumps" from author R.L. Stine.



At the same time, Hallmark Gold Crown Stores, the much bigger competitor to American Greetings, is using the strength of its stores to market somewhat older or forgotten music acts. This holiday, James Taylor bypassed traditional record labels to produced and distribute "James Taylor: A Christmas Album." The album, which was recorded exclusively for Hallmark Cards, has already sold 1 million copies.

Taylor has not signed with a major label since 2002 - that's when his "October Road" album was released by Columbia Records. Experts say as a result, more older music acts that have had trouble selling albums on traditional labels, might go this route as well.

No doubt consumers are looking for an emotional connection when buying an anniversary, birthday, congratulations, or romantic card. These two retailers are just extending those good vibrations to other entertainment products.

All of which means that American Greetings and Hallmark stores will seemingly be the new place to market TV shows and music at the two ends of the demographic spectrum: for Nickelodeon-savvy kids as well as those kids folk-music happy parents.

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