Monday, October 8, 2012

A Heartfelt Appeal to Hallmark's Struggling Business.

Dear Hallmark,

Why did you allow things to get to this point without calling me? Come on, you guys, you know I'm here for you.

It's obviously too late to reverse this current wave, now that you've announced the impending layoffs of seven hundred and fifty full-time American employees due to struggling sales.

And let me emphasize, the era of the paper greeting card has not perished; I love receiving material greetings. It shows effort, not just the mindless thirty-second response to a Facebook tickler.

But look, people, it's time for a little upgrade. The same cheesy lines that made Uncle Hector laugh so hard that Aunt Sarah had to tuck his hernia back in just don't cut it with today's cynical card shopper.

If you're looking to downsize, here's where to start, and it's really simple: get rid of all kids' cards. They're a waste of money. When six-year-old Jakey is sitting in the living room, waiting to ravage a mountain of presents, the only thing standing between him and that new X-Box is some card with a picture of Optimus Prime that says, "Wishing you a 'Transformative' birthday!"

Mom makes him open the card so she can write down who gave it to him so he can send a thank you note later. Here's an idea—just skip the card altogether and write who it's from in big, black Sharpie right over the Elmo wrapping paper.

From a kid's point of view, the only good cards arrive with Benjamin inside. And those don't get read, either.

So, yeah, Hallmark, let's nix cards for anyone under, say, twenty years old. After that, we can tweak the subject matter for more adult audiences.

A huge portion of your market is the card which lampoons those advancing into older age. Most are meant to skewer folks who've begun to experience physical challenges. These contain messages like, "You know the worst thing about getting older? Gravity!"

That's not funny. It's true, hurtful and mean-spirited, but not the least bit humorous. What's funny about showing cartoon boobs hitting the floor, when a lot of us have been watching it in real time every day for the past twenty years? That's like telling someone in the elevator that they look tired. No point, you know? Why not use the Marine Corps method and knock down while building up?

If you want to really slam someone, yet compliment them as well, you can avoid paying all the fancy illustrators and photographers and offer a simple white card with black type. On the cover it will say, "Dude, seriously, I didn't think you'd make it this far, especially after all those years not using protection..."

He'll open the card to find a little envelope of sunscreen taped inside with the words, "You're welcome."

But hang on. Underneath that, again in black letters it will read, "Plus, oh my God, you were a slut. Seriously, anything that moved..."

His wife and kids and mom will love it, and I'm pretty sure he'll feel better about himself.

Another area of dead weight that could really use some pruning is your sympathy card business. Good Lord, those cards are terrible. Have you ever tried finding one which simply states, "I'm sorry for your loss"?

It's impossible and it reminds me of when someone is trying to express his or her condolences but they're uncomfortable and don't know when to stop. They end up saying something like:

"Hey, I'm really sorry about your mom. It's probably good, though, right? I mean, you know what I mean? It's good that she's not suffering, you know? I mean, I'm assuming she suffered, like, a lot, right? Like super, super painful probably, right? Yeah, so it's good she's dead. Take care, and if you need anything, just text me, but not after eight."

Here's an example of an actual Hallmark sympathy card:

"Your loved one's with our Lord above,
Away from earthly pain.
And over time,
The Lord will lift,
Your sorrow once again."

That's nice. Kind of a Dr. Suess feel, too.

Hallmark, it's good to know that someone at your fine company can pen such a personal note to me and my unspecified loved one.

Good luck with your foundering business, and in addition to the above suggestions, I implore you to revisit the time-tested idea of limericks.

Tim Haywood

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