Hallmark Lets Consumers Design Cards In Competition

Roses are red, violets are blue; Hallmark names finalists, now consumers vote, too.

The card designs are the work of 10 finalists in Hallmark Cards' first themed-card competition. Consumers had two weeks last month to log into Hallmark.com/you and share their card designs, inspired by the company's partnership with (Product) Red--a non-profit initiative founded by U2's Bono, aimed at eliminating AIDS in Africa. Hallmark and Red judged the entries based on theme and creativity, along with the ability to use the design for multiple occasions.

Hallmark will award the winner who receives the most votes $2,250 and plans to match that amount in a contribution to Red's Global Fund. Voting concludes Jan. 10, with the winning card announced the following day. The card will sell online for one year. All 10 winning designs go on sale online from Dec. 28 through February. The card company will print and ship the cards. A portion of the proceeds from every sale go toward the Global Red Fund.



Maureen Dilger, Hallmark product manager, who declined to reveal the number of entries received, says e-mail submissions were received from 39 states. "Entries for the first competition were limited to United States residents, but that's likely to change in the future," she says. "Red has an international following, and we really need to open the competition to submissions worldwide."

Red quietly promoted the contest on its Facebook and MySpace pages. Hallmark plans to market the finalists' cards through e-mail blasts, ads on its eCard page, and possibility through Gold Crown partners. "We also are talking with finalists about participating in special card-signings in their local markets," Dilger says.

Hallmark plans to hold multiple competitions next year. In January, artists, photographers and pet enthusiasts will have an opportunity to submit their funniest pet photos with a birthday sentiment in the "Your Pets" competition. Those interested in learning more before entering can visit Hallmark.com/you.

Companies and advertising agencies will continue to build off consumer ideas. "[Futurist] Alvin Toffler's original view of consumers acting as producers for advertising and marketing has been hijacked, kidnapped and warped," says William Cook, senior vice president/research and standards for the Advertising Research Foundation, New York. "He was dead-on, and technology will propel that vision even farther. The ease of creating and sharing will only increase."

The Internet has played a big role in consumer participation. Similar to mashups that require creators to take small pieces of online media and squish them together to form an idea posted on a Web site, consumers will start to see their creativity put to use in manufacturing physical items, too, such as clothing and other consumer goods. Cook says we'll begin to see more consumer-created products, and smart marketers will try to figure out how to use it as a research tool and as a source to fuel creative ideas.

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