Hallmark Business Expressions Books VML for Interactive

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Hallmark Business Expressions named VML, Kansas City, MO, as its interactive marketing agency of record after weeding out four other national shops.

This is the first time HBE has appointed an interactive AOR to drive qualified business traffic to www.hallmarkbusinessexpressions.com. VML is charged with demand generation, interactive marketing like search, data analysis and media planning and buying services.

"They're looking to grow the Web as a channel, and we're engaged to help them do that," said Carey Wilkins, director of digital relationship marketing at VML.

Billings or fees were not disclosed. VML has worked on several projects with HBE parent Hallmark, also of Kansas City.

HBE joins a VML roster comprising Burger King, Colgate-Palmolive Co., Intuit, Microsoft Corp., Sears, Sprint, Weight Watchers, BP/Castrol, Accenture, AMC Theatres, Hill's Pet Nutrition, YRC Worldwide and Simon Property Group. VML is part of WPP Group PLC's Young & Rubicam Brands.

A subsidiary of Hallmark Cards Inc., HBE creates cards for businesses reaching out to their customers, prospects or employees. The division began repositioning itself last year to serve businesses sending cards in large or small quantities.

"A lot of this is helping their customers develop and strengthen their relationships with their customers," Ms. Wilkins said.

The HBE interactive marketing launches in September to prep sales ahead of the holiday season. The theme is a work in progress. The unit has used direct mail and catalogs in offline marketing.

HBE competes with several business-to-business card sites for client outreach or employee appreciation and reward efforts. Among them are brands like cardsdirect.com and Taylor Corp.'s gneil.com, brookhollow.com and hrdirect.com.

"They're looking to strengthen their presence in the online channel," Ms. Wilkins said of HBE.

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