This is a product line that consumed nearly 6 months of my life. The idea came from marketing after discussions with a partnering company, Smilebox who specialized in the creation and marketing of online digital slide shows. Hallmark’s product format would be a card that housed a DVD that shared an integrated design. Instructions would be included to direct the consumer to Smilebox where they would download the Smilebox program and create a personalized slide show within a Hallmark created animation with licensed music that integrated the design of the card and disc. The consumer would then burn their creation onto the disc provided and send it on to the recipient as a gift. Here are some examples of what the end product looked like:
And here’s a series of videos of the video animations the consumer would generate, burn onto the CD, then send to the recipient. I led the team in the conception, development, and execution of over 25 different DVD Greeting products for Holiday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, and Everyday.
Grandma for Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day to make her cry
Mother’s Day to make her laugh
Why Did This Program Fail?
Honestly, I could write an entire book about this program. The work was intense. I had to provide copy and direction for: cards, animations, physical instructions, UX, merchandising, marketing materials, video scripts, etc… I had to hire a composer/arranger and a team of musicians to record the soundtracks (this was to keep costs down. By only paying the publishing rights, we could then generate our own master track.) I conducted extensive product testing within focus groups and most participants were able to successfully download the app and create a DVD given their very limited computer skills. They were also thrilled with the end result. The problem with poor marketplace performance ran deeper, though. This is not an easy product to explain to the average Hallmark Gold Crown shopper (A.K.A. 40+ female.) Video monitors were purchased by merchandising to display a video my team created that explained the product, its use, and its benefits. Most of these monitors broke down within the first week due to their poor construction. In addition, most consumers were unsure if they had a DVD burner on their computer, or if they did, how to use it. Many didn’t know how to manage photo files on their computer and found the entire process too intimidating. Finally, those who did go to Smilebox to download the app. could plainly see that Smilebox offered the same service (minus the card and DVD, of course, and a much poorer quality animation) for a fourth of the price of the Hallmark product they had just purchased. This resulted in angry letters to both Hallmark and Smilebox. My team expressed all of these concerns very early in the development process but marketing was confident the strength of the product would win with the consumers. Consumer’s did love the end product, but simply not enough consumers purchased the product to have that experience. I am very proud of what my team created, though. We all came out of this experience wiser and a great deal smarter.