#Cardmitment hits TV and radio

BBC Breakfast and radio stations galore spread GCA’s positive pr drive for card sending

 

The GCA gained the eyes and ears of millions this week with widespread media coverage on tv’s BBC Breakfast and radio stations galore ramming home positive messages of the joys and importance of sending and receiving cards as part of its Cardmitment pr and marketing campaign.

BBC Breakfast’s presenter Ben Boulos broadcast live from Great British Card Company’s Gloucester warehouse and design studio on Monday, 2 October, where the day’s implementation of Royal Mail’s latest first-class stamp price rise was the news hook to cover the greeting card industry.

Above & top: Ben Boulos on screen with the postbox topper and a behind-the-scenes shot
Above & top: Ben Boulos on screen with the postbox topper and a behind-the-scenes shot

In two large segments on the UK’s most-watched morning TV programme on Monday, 2 October, totalling over 10 minutes, Ben interviewed GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson, GBCC chief executive David Byk, and the publisher’s head of creative Lucy Ledger and designer Sophie Thorne.

Telling viewers that card sending is getting more expensive with the 15p rise in first-class stamps to £1.25, Ben’s point that the second-class price is staying the same at 75p was reiterated by both Amanda and David.

Above: Amanda Fergusson, Ben Boulos, David Byk and the BBC’s cameraman
Above: Amanda Fergusson, Ben Boulos, David Byk and the BBC’s cameraman

“We’re always concerned about price increases,” David said, “but we believe the industry is fairly robust in terms of why people send greeting cards. It’s not just about the price – and there’s always a second class option as well which makes life rather more reasonable, for something which has a very great value.”

Drawing on the recent GCA Market Report, Ben explained that Britons spent £1.5billion on greeting cards last year and send more cards per head than any other country, and the GBCC warehouse alone delivers 50million cards a year to retailers in the UK and across the world – featuring thank you, wedding and birthday designs that he pulled off the warehouse shelves as he walked around.

To the suggestion it might be more environmentally-friendly to send digital cards or texts, Amanda responded: “It’s not the same though, is it? And, of course, cards are made of paper so they are recyclable. But most people keep cards. They’re really important keepsakes.

“I think we’ve all got cards from grandparents and people no longer here. They’re actually very, very precious because you see their handwriting, it reminds you of the relationship, and the sentiment of that person, so cards are a really important thing.”

Above: Ben with Sophie Thorne, Lucy Ledger and the special Pudsey Bear design
Above: Ben with Sophie Thorne, Lucy Ledger and the special Pudsey Bear design

As Ben was filmed in GBCC’s warehouse, marvelling at the card displays and volume of Christmas designs, and showing off the postbox topper created by Pam Sorrell, aunt to Jo Sorrell who owns Cardies indie greetings store in Stevenage, he also asked whether dynamic pricing could help, with stamps cheaper for specific times of year and occasions.

“We’d love that,” Amanda said. “I think we’d all love cheaper stamps at Christmas because, of course, Christmas cards are a really key part of our nation’s fabric. We love decorating with them and it’s a really important time to connect with people.

“We’ve actually got a #Cardmitment campaign going now where we’re encouraging everyone to commit to send more cards because it’s such a joyous thing to go downstairs and see a handwritten envelope on the mat from somebody you care about. So, we’d say start writing your Christmas cards now and putting little notes in!”

Going to where “the magic happens”, Ben went into the GBCC’s design studio to get first-hand experience of what’s involved in creating a greeting card. Explaining how the design side works Lucy told him: “We start with trends, colour palettes and things like that. But especially with Christmas, greeting cards are a very emotional send. Christmas has a lot of nostalgia involved, happy memories, so we essentially try and create the magic.”

Above: Ben was seen in various areas of the GBCC warehouse and studio
Above: Ben was seen in various areas of the GBCC warehouse and studio

And there was even a special treat for the BBC Breakfast team in the shape of a unique card which Sophie – a finalist in The Henries Most Promising Young Designer Or Artist 2023 – hand drew from Ben’s suggestions, featuring the tv channel’s mascot Pudsey Bear with colourful balloons for the programme’s colours.

The tv interest was sparked by Arena PR, the GCA’s appointed pr agency whose co-founders, Nick Agarwal and Andrea Ross, are driving the multi-faceted #Cardmitment consumer pr and marketing campaign to promote card sending.

Above: Amanda and David being interviewed on screen, and for Radio 5 Live
Above: Amanda and David being interviewed on screen, and for Radio 5 Live

It’s particularly interesting that Ben Boulos was the presenter on location for this story as it was his admission on air last year that he wouldn’t be sending Christmas cards which incensed independent retailer Kaye Thurgood, of Sincerely Yours in Shenfield and Hornchurch, reaffirming her mission to encourage widespread industry action to get people sending more festive greetings this year and to post them early.

Kaye contacted Progressive Greetings’ Jakki Brown about the issue, which was taken up by the GCA council, contributing to the full-blown #Cardmitment initiative.

At a PG/GCA retail round table meeting, which took place on the afternoon of The Henries judging in August, Kaye stressed the urgency of not assuming that Christmas card sending would return to the glory days, especially if top BBC presenters like Ben Boulos admitted they had not sent any.

On hearing this Sally Matson, owner of Red Card in Petworth, said: “Well, we need to go to him and push for a more positive story this year!” Yesterday’s TV coverage made that wish come true.

As well as appearing on BBC Breakfast on Monday – with Amanda’s slot able to be watched in the video above – the GCA’s media stardom for the industry extended to various BBC radio stations too, including Radio Scotland, 6X Music, the lunchtime news on Radio 2, Three Counties Radio, and Radio 5 Live – which had interviewed the association ceo during the GCA conference in Leeds on Thursday, 28 September, as well as David at the warehouse.

Coverage of the #Cardmitment campaign has also appeared in national newspapers the Sun, and Mirror, and local paper The Southport Visiter, and more information about it can be seen here.

As Amanda highlighted: “It is great that we’ve been able to engage with the media at this time, hopefully this will lead to members of the public buying and sending their Christmas cards early this year. However, we need to keep the activity going and call on everyone in the industry to get involved.

“Securing a slot on BBC Breakfast was a great opportunity to be able to remind consumers that second-class stamp prices haven’t gone up.”

Above: The retail round table has helped push the #Cardmitment campaign
Above: The retail round table has helped push the #Cardmitment campaign

For more information on #Cardmitment click here, and there is a free retailer pack containing one of three A3 poster designs, a last postage dates tent card, and a flyer explaining the campaign which is being sent out with orders by publishers Abacus Cards, Belly Button Designs, Caroline Gardner, Emotional Rescue, GBCC/Ling, Hallmark, Ohh Deer, Paper Salad, Paperlink, Raspberry Blossom, Ricicle Cards, Second Nature and UK Greetings with sales agent Rose Trow also taking them into her customers.

Retailers can contact the publishers directly for one to be added to their order, or email the GCA’s Adriana Lovesy on adriana@gca.cards to request one, or the free toolkit can be downloaded here.

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