HALLMARK, AMBASSADOR EVENT ADDRESSES ETHNIC CONSUMERS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ambassador Cards and Hallmark are running a national promotion that teams Mahogany greeting cards with Dark & Lovely, a haircare relaxer product, to generate greater awareness at retail for ethnic products.The cross-promotion, which began this summer and will run through October, features two free greeting cards and envelopes in each box of Dark & Lovely.Paul Quick, general manager

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ambassador Cards and Hallmark are running a national promotion that teams Mahogany greeting cards with Dark & Lovely, a haircare relaxer product, to generate greater awareness at retail for ethnic products.

The cross-promotion, which began this summer and will run through October, features two free greeting cards and envelopes in each box of Dark & Lovely.

Paul Quick, general manager of Hallmark's Ethnic Business Center, which was formed last year to develop and market ethnic greeting cards, said, "There will be one million boxes [of Dark & Lovely] out there that will say on the box that there are two free Mahogany cards inside. The people who will buy this product are African-American women. So we are getting one million impressions to our targeted consumers."

In addition, there is information about Mahogany and a toll-free number to help customers find a nearby store that carries the line.

The promotion is being supported by targeted television and magazine advertisements, including 15- and 30-second spots on Black Entertainment Television, WGN and other cable stations and full-page ads in Ebony and Essence magazines. "We are inviting consumers into the stores. They are going after a demand product in haircare, and getting something free and learning about a brand. In turn, we are building brand awareness around Mahogany," he said.

Mahogany was introduced in 1987 as a 16-card offering focusing on friendship and love. It has grown to more than 900 stockkeeping units featuring seasonal and everyday cards.

"We are trying different things to make a mark with ethnic consumers," said Quick. Last year, Primor, a Hispanic card line, was tied-in with a Disney tape of five popular children's Spanish songs in a "buy three cards and get the tape for 99 cents" offer.

In November, Mahogany will break with another print ad campaign in Ebony and Essence magazines that will include a toll-free number so consumers can find the store nearest them that carries the line.

"We are developing products for targeted groups that are growing in sheer numbers, income and their ability to participate in the category. We are finding these groups want products that are culturally relevant and in tune with their needs. It doesn't mean they will stop buying regular everyday greeting cards. It does mean incremental sales opportunities for retailers," said Quick. African-Americans comprise more than 12% of the U.S. population, and account for approximately $300 billion in purchasing power nationwide, according to the 1990 census. Ethnic consumers make approximately 20% of the purchases in the personal-expression industry, according to Hallmark research.