in the Cards
by Mad Dog
Thats about 3,000,000,000 individual
greeting cards a year, which if placed end to end starting at Times Square still
wouldnt be enough to make Carmen Electra stay with Dennis Rodman.
|| Its time to dust off your sense of humor, down a couple of Xanax, and
park yourself in the middle of the greeting card aisle at the drugstore
Mothers Day, Fathers Day, graduation, Memorial Day, Summer Solstice, and my
birthday are all around the corner, and that means a lot of people are expecting to get
cards from you. What do you mean there arent any Summer Solstice or Memorial Day
cards? Dont the greeting card companies want to sell cards?
Of course they do. In fact, theyre worried because
theyre not selling enough. According to a recent article in Time the big
greeting card companies are sending each other condolence cards ("Our sincerest
wishes for a better third quarter") because they only sold a measly $7.5 billion
worth of cards last year. Yes, thats billion. To put this in perspective,
thats about 3,000,000,000 individual cards, which if placed end to end starting at
Times Square still wouldnt be enough to make Carmen Electra stay with Dennis Rodman.
(A side note to the greeting card manufacturersand most
other companies for that matter: Quit whining, will you? Just because sales arent
increasing in double digits like they used to is no reason to nail your president to a
cross, close factories, and kiss your stockholders, uh, feet. Be more like your
workers. They dont get double digit revenue increases every year. Face it, when
January hits theyre just damned glad theyre still around. You should be too.)
Dont be surprised if the next batch of cards you see are so soft and fluffy
theyre printed on cotton candy.
|| In order to combat a
market that appears to be shrinking faster than Pamela Andersons breasts, the
greeting card companies have taken several strategies. The more traditional one has been
to fabricate new and better holidays in the hope that well buy more cards. Its
not enough that we send cards at Christmas, Valentines Day and Easter, now they want
us to send them at Thanksgiving, Halloween, Secretarys Day and, any year now, Martin
Luther Kings birthday.
The other stroke of genius hit when, in
a flash of brilliance not seen since someone decided that The Mod Squad would make a good
movie, the greeting card companies came to the realization that the number of card giving
days in a year was a finite number. Three hundred sixty-five to be exact. Doubling up
sounded like, well, overkill, in spite of the fact that the state of Virginia triples up
each year when they celebrate (True Fact!) Lee-Jackson-King Day.
So instead of having to resort to National Head Cheese Day
(which would have conflicted with Icky Bachelor Uncles Day) they decided to create
cards for non-occasions. Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear would have been proud. Anyway,
thats how the touchy-feely card lines got started. You know, the ones like
"Im sorry we argued last night", "Id like to get to know you
better", and "Did I remember to mention that I have active herpes?"
These card lines are expanding faster than Linda
Ronstadt at a Taco Bell opening. Hallmark now has a new "Warm Wishes" line.
Gibson Greetings has gone so far as to say theyre not in the greeting card business
but in the "relationship business." Dont be surprised if the next batch of
cards you see are so soft and fluffy theyre printed on cotton candy. Personally, I
cant wait until I can buy cards like "Im glad we bonded while playing
drums in the sweat lodge", "Im sorry I havent gotten in touch with
you but Ive been too busy getting in touch with my feelings", and "You
hurt my dogs self-esteem when you got angry about stepping in his poop."
The truth is, if you can go online to send an electronic greeting card you could just as
easily take an extra moment or two and send a sincere, heartfelt thought in an email,
|| The greeting
cardI mean, relationship companies claim electronic greeting cards are hurting
their sales. As someone whos gotten a few, let me say that they have nothing to
worry about. From the senders end, electronic greeting cards are free, you
dont have to stand in a drugstore and spend hours trying to find an envelope that
matches the card, and theres no need for a stamp or a mailbox. On the receiving end,
howeverwhat no one wants to admitis that after youve gotten your first
three electronic greeting cards, well, they get pretty boring.
In case youve never gotten one, or you still think online
refers to hanging up the wash, it works likes this: You get an email telling you to go to
a web site. Once there, you enter a password, wait forever for Java to load, wait forever
again while some big graphics load, then sit back and listen to some drippy song play
while pigs dance on the screen and you read a canned sentiment which is no better than
what they could have bought from Hallmark, though at least if they did that theyd
have been helping the countrys economy.
The real problem with electronic greeting cards is
theyre too cheap and easy, so people start sending them for no apparent reason other
than they can, which effectively renders them meaningless. The truth is, if you can go
online to send an electronic greeting card you could just as easily take an extra moment
or two and send a sincere, heartfelt thought in an email, couldnt you? Sure it
wont have bandwidth hogging, slow-loading, ultra-lo-fidelity sound and graphics, but
you cant have everything, can you?
Maybe its me. After all, Ive only bought one
greeting card in the last 15 years. Instead, I make them myself. This way theyre
original, they show some effort on my part, and theyre completely personalized.
Lets ignore the fact that they dont cost me anything, they have the graphics
of a 5-year-old, and theyre on plain white paper, at least they dont have
sentiments like "Birthdays are like leaves on the tree of life, a reminder that as
you get older youll whither and die". Hey, now theres an idea. Dont
be surprised if you see that soon in the American Greetings "Death Wishes" line.
Hell, theyll do anything to sell more greeting cards.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while waiting for your electronic greeting card to load.