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‘The Force’ lights up for Hallmark

BY Barbara White-Sax

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hallmark is bringing “the Force” to the greeting card aisle with a variety of new “Star Wars” Halloween, Christmas and everyday “Star Wars” cards, many of which include light and sound effects.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

New for holiday 2015, “Star Wars” Hangables cards feature four-inch removable “Star Wars” characters that can hang on doorknobs, bulletin boards, or backpack zippers. The 12-card line features classic characters like Darth Vader, Han Solo and Yoda, plus “Stars Wars: The Force Awakens” early fan favorites like BB-8, and retail for $4.99.

New Light and Sound Shakers birthday cards combine lights, sound and new shake-technology that illuminates the lightsaber and plays seven sound effects when a button is pressed and the card is shaken. The interactive card retails for $7.99.

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Card-makers seek fresh licensed content

BY Barbara White-Sax

Licensed products remain an important part of the card category. “Licensing keeps the category fresh,” said Carlos LLanso, CEO of Legacy Publishing and president of the Greeting Card Association. “There’s only so much design work many manufacturers can do in house, so licensed artwork is key to keeping product interesting.” Legacy Publishing is introducing new cards featuring the art of the Hautman Brothers, who have won awards for their designs of ducks.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

Susan January, VP at Leanin’ Tree, said that as a smaller company, everything Leanin’ Tree publishes is licensed imagery, and the company refreshes with a few small collections of newly licensed artwork every January. “Most art trends have a three-to-five year life cycle at retail, so greeting card manufacturers are constantly looking for fresh and exciting new licensed art for their product line,” she said.

Character licenses remain some of the most popular licenses in the category. “Some of the most successful properties in our portfolio include Peanuts, Disney and Lucasfilm,” said Cindy Mahoney, VP of licensing at Hallmark. Mahoney said that Hallmark relies on a balance between evergreen properties whose equity emotionally aligns with the Hallmark brand, and topical licenses the company believes will be popular for a short period of time. “Our product plans contemplate the balance of both types of content to ensure the most productive and relevant assortment for our retail partners,” she said.

Hallmark and “Star Wars” have partnered for more than 20 years. “Although it’s evergreen, there are time periods when it’s extra timely and hot,” said Mahoney. “This quarter Hallmark is timing product to the highly-anticipated ‘Star Wars’ movie, and we’ll bring the force to the greeting card aisle in a variety of ways.”

Licensing also impacts audio, a growing aspect of the card department. “Our product has always focused on original artist vs. re-records, and relies on music that evokes shared moments and experiences between the card giver and the recipient,” said Mahoney. Hallmark’s new Sound Band Greetings feature a variety of licensed properties and music, such as “Frozen” and the song “Let It Go.” Each Sound Band Greetings card includes a detachable stretchy wristband that allows a child to play a favorite song or fun sound with the push of a button.

Mahoney said wrap is a key category segment for licensed products, as well. “We have exclusive ‘everyday’ rights for all of our properties under contract, including hot properties with theatrical releases this year like ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ ‘The Good Dinosaur’ and ‘The Peanuts Movie.’ Other key gift wrap licenses include Disney Princess, Justice League and Batman. When we apply Hallmark’s unique creative perspective with the power of the licensed content in a gift presentation solution, we see great results,” she said.

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Social media marketing guru to headline DSN Summit

BY DSN STAFF

Drug Store News will host the 17th annual Industry Issues Summit at the famed New York Athletic Club on Dec. 3, with record-breaking attendance expected.

DSN also is proud to announce that social media marketing genius and best-selling business writer Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, will deliver a special lunchtime keynote address at this year’s event. Vaynerchuk, who got his start in business by building his father’s New Jersey-based wine shop into a $45 million online business — along with the viral wine-tasting web show “Wine Library TV,” which led him to a 10-book deal with HarperStudio — leads VaynerMedia, the digital agency he launched in 2009 to work with companies the likes of GE and PepsiCo.

Author of the New York Times/ Wall Street Journal/Associated Press bestseller “Crush It! Why Now is the Best Time to Cash in on Your Passion,” and “The Thank You Economy,” which details the effect of social media on business — required reading for business leaders around the world — Vaynerchuk will share insights from his newest book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World.”

This year’s Industry Issues Summit event once again features a top-notch lineup of leading retail executives from companies including CVS Health, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, H-E-B, Kroger, Wakefern, Costco, Family Dollar and many more.

Moderated by Dan Mack, founder of the Mack Elevation Forum and author of “Dark Horse: How Challenger Companies Rise to Prominence,” the Industry Issues Summit is the anchor of the daylong thought leadership/industry networking event. “The vision of the Industry Issues Summit is to discuss how we elevate retailer-supplier engagement while reviewing the changing dynamics influencing our industry,” Mack said. “We will discuss seven drivers affecting growth, including balancing boomer and millennial health needs, optimizing trade investments, designing value and premium consumer offers, trip consolidation and implications, new developments in omnichannel, localization and the next generation of leadership.”

Hamacher Resource Group VP and co-owner Dave Wendland will be back to once again moderate the Chronic Care and Retail Health Roundtable, which this year focuses on the transforming role of the pharmacist; better connections between hospitals and pharmacies in transitioning care; incorporating quality and adherence metrics for people with multiple chronic conditions; and supporting patient self-management and family care-giving through enhanced merchandising, informational resources and operational approaches. “According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases are responsible for 7-of-10 deaths each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of our nation’s healthcare costs,” Wendland noted.

The program kicks off with the Health, Wellness and Technology Summit, moderated by Chris Dimos, SVP business development at McKesson.

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