In 2007, when Hallmark was competing with American Greetings for the Disney Consumer Product license, I had a brainstorm. It occurred to me that Hallmark and Disney occupy a similar space in our culture in that they are both (largely) beloved brands with the sort of cultural ubiquity that other brands could never even hope to achieve. I created the video below to reinforce that overlap. Watch it all the way to the end if you wanna get all misty.
No one wanted me to do this video. When I proposed the idea in the hope of getting some help from our massive, elaborate video division, I was shut down… hard. They had a pretty legitimate concern about anything that dabbled this heavily in copyright infringement, even though the intention was to use it only in our internal presentations. I was also unable to get any help from Hallmark’s sizable promo department for the identification and sourcing of the film and TV quotes. The only person who believed in this project was my boss, Brad Springer. He got me an external hard drive for my video storage needs. That was the extent of the help I received from the company.
For weeks, I’d write and design greeting cards all day, then I’d go home and research instances of “Hallmark” being spoken on film. I maxed out my Nextflix subscription so I could get three DVDs at a time. I spent my evenings and nights ripping tiny fragments of films and scrubbing through every Disney movie in existence to find appropriate matching scenes. I cobbled them together using iMovie (back before it was crippled so that Apple could sell more copies of FCP).
Despite the near-universal rejection of the initial idea, the video was lauded upon its completion. It was presented to Disney and run on a loop in Hallmark’s art gallery for weeks thereafter. Hallmark got the license.
In 2008 (one year later), Macy’s ran the following ad to celebrate their 150th anniversary…
Now, far be it for me to suggest that Macy’s somehow copied my concept and paid an agency hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve what I achieved for the cost of a Netflix subscription, because that would be a flatly ridiculous assertion, but that’s clearly exactly what happened.