FG&W to Help Gibson Greetings Go After Hallmark

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Integrated direct marketing services firm Freedman, Gibson & White Inc., Cincinnati, has won an assignment to help Gibson Greetings launch its new Relativity program, an alternative card merchandising initiative that will challenge longtime industry heavyweight Hallmark Cards Inc., Kansas City, MO.

FG&W's intensive retail chain awareness campaign will use business-to-business communications, advertising print and direct mail to help launch what George White, general manager of Gibson Bullseye Productions said is a "complicated sell."

The distinctive Gibson Greetings' line includes a collection of card products that are well-differentiated from Hallmark, including brands like Dilbert, The Far Side, Buzzcuts, Ripple Effects and Chicken Soup for the Soul. And according to the company, their newly designed compact carousels and diverse selections have helped increase card department store sales by 17 percent in outlets where they have been placed.

"Their advertising and direct mail materials were attention-grabbing and easy to understand," White said. "And the ad message was pithy and clever, one that would certainly bring awareness to the unique differences that our Relativity brands offer retail outlets."

"Basically what we are trying to do regarding competition with Hallmark is help our client to make a more direct comparison of their product in presentations, said FG&W vice president John Beard. "We're helping them go about pursuing a pure sales growth campaign."

Beard says Gibson, Cincinnati, is faced with positioning an alternative brand card product next to a more traditional one. He said typical greeting card buyers tend to be around 55 years old, but alternative cards are more popular with young shoppers. He said account executives are actually using entire carousel during their presentations as part of the push.

"If they've got an appointment on Friday … they actually drop ship the display into a sales offices as part of the presentation. It's one of the key selling points. And it helps show how compact it is and how easily it can be used in combination with existing retail displays."

Although most of Gibson's cards are not priced as low as many of Hallmarks, one of the goals is to show how complementary displays, variety and branding can help increase a retailers overall success.

"We were very pleased that Gibson chose our most aggressive ad concept, which singles out Hallmark greeting cards by contrasting Relativity's focus on the retailer's bottom line versus Hallmark's focus on the back of the card," said Beard. "The campaign's focus reflects the Relativity program's own aggressiveness that already is achieving increased sales."

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