Hallmark hacks earn uni prize

Publisher’s student links lead to shape the future with brand Hackathon day


Taking its brand to students has worked well for Hallmark and the publisher has now extended its links by participating in an undergraduate Humanities Hackathon at the University Of Westminster – a day of thinking, concepting, and pitching.

“The Hackathon was a fascinating day,” Eve Gray, Hallmark’s creative development director of the Future Squad, told PG Buzz. “We have a long-standing Graduate Programme and have engaged with lots of students for many years but have never participated in a Hackathon with humanities students before – so a Hallmark first.

Above: The brands on stage with Eve Gray second left
Above: The brands on stage with Eve Gray second left

“The students had really interesting thoughts about their need for connection and we feel it’s paramount for us to hear those voices. The fact that Team Hallmark won the Hackathon with their pitch was a gorgeous surprise but we thought very well deserved!”

The link with the London uni came through Hallmark’s long-running sponsorship of the New Designers graduate design showcase which has led to the greeting card publisher recruiting plenty of fresh talent.

Following its participation in the ND Educates programme at the show, the uni’s employer and engagement officer Jennie Baptiste asked the company to work with her and WeNetwork (Westminster Enterprise Network) on the Shaping The Future Humanities Hackathon – a short video from the day can be viewed below.

Hallmark’s head of marketing Jess Lovelace explained: “We wrote a brief that then went to a broad range of academics to choose how they would like use it and with what undergraduates, so the Hackathon Event was the resulting use of our Hallmark brief.”

The event at London’s historic Regent Street Cinema saw Hallmark join LVHM luxury goods, WaterAid, Black Lives In Music, and the Financial Times’ FT Live, each working with teams of students who had picked that brand’s brief, generating ideas, concepting and coaching them through their thoughts.

Above: Team Hallmark announced as winners, and with the publisher’s staff
Above: Team Hallmark announced as winners, and with the publisher’s staff

“Those students who selected the Hallmark brief were a fabulously international bunch, Spanish, Italian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, with one American student and one Canadian academic telling us all about their lifelong understanding of what a Hallmark Moment was,” Jess added.

Eve said: “We do actually work with undergraduates quite a lot through our graduate programme, but not usually from history and humanities courses, so this gave us an opportunity to talk to people about ideas from a different kind of perspective and also from a fantastically international demographic.”

Above: The winning pitch and Eve engaging with students at the event
Above: The winning pitch and Eve engaging with students at the event

At the end of a very busy day, Team Hallmark students pitched their ideas to Eve and Kelly Wykman, the publisher’s design director, alongside academic staff, who chose the winner to join the others from each brand to pitch to the whole event.

Westminster University’s associate head of the School Of Liberal Arts & Sciences Professor Gerda Wielander then picked the overall winner, and Jess said: “Team Hallmark won! Lots of meaningful moments all round!”

Top: Hallmark’s Eve Gray working with students at the Hackathon

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