American Greetings To Roll Out Ellen DeGeneres Line

American Greetings is betting that the offbeat humor of comic Ellen DeGeneres will appeal to greeting-card shoppers, and plans to roll out a line of 32 ellen cards this summer.

The ellen collection will feature illustrations of the comedian along with her trademark quirky takes on subjects like birthdays and friendship. "I like to be up in the middle of everything and doing it this way is much easier than crashing parties," DeGeneres says in a release.

While there's no official word on whether American Greetings will introduce the cards with TV ads, "this is the most comprehensive launch we've ever had," says an American Greetings spokesperson, "and will include national marketing support."

Fresh from her success hosting the 2007 Academy Awards, the Emmy-winning DeGeneres has a strong appeal with women, who account for about 80% of all greeting card purchases, says the Greeting Card Association (GCA).

It's not the first celebrity line from American Greetings, or even the first from a comic. Shoppers can buy one of 28 Jeff Foxworthy "redneck"-inspired cards, for example. (One shows a tattooed woman carrying two grocery bags, and reads: "You might be a redneck if when packing for vacation your biggest decision is whether to use paper or plastic." The punch line inside reads, "Miss you.")



But it does show how eager companies are to shake off the dated, canned sentiments that most people still associate with greeting cards. Last month, for instance, Hallmark introduced the 176-card "Journey" line, offering encouragement for everything from cancer to eating disorders to depression. Hallmark announced the line after company research found that 90% of consumers wanted more choices for real-life situations.

Of course, the schmaltzy cards will never go away. GCA research has found that a third of those polled say they keep special greeting cards forever.

Hallmark and American Greetings account for about 85% of the $7.5-billion market. Of the estimated 7 billion cards sold each year, the GCA says the biggest occasion in seasonal cards are Christmas, followed by Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and then Father's Day. And birthday cards--which account for about 30% of all cards sold--are No. 1 in the "every day" category.

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