Hallmark Says Leo Choice Wasn’t All About Money

Cost-savings played a role in Hallmark’s decision last week to consolidate its advertising at Leo Burnett, but a representative of the greeting card company said economics wasn’t the main factor.

“We were looking for additional input, and that precipitated the review,” said company representative Julie O’Dell. Saving money by consolidating at Burnett “wasn’t a No. 1 consideration.”

Burnett, which handles Hallmark’s $90 million consumer advertising account, added the client’s retail and trade advertising account following a review that included the incumbent for the retail and trade business, Valentine Radford, along with Barkley Evergreen & Partners and Bernstein-Rein Advertising, all three of which are based in the company’s hometown of Kansas City, Mo.

Hallmark’s trade account could take on more importance as its contract with Kmart is set to expire June 1. Burnett’s assignment will involve creating Hallmark’s support materials for mass retailers and trade advertising for the company’s line of Gold Crown stores.

“They know our business,” O’Dell said of Burnett. “This is another piece of the pie that they’re now working on.”

O’Dell declined to give the value of the trade account. Valentine Radford had handled the account since 1985.

“We were looking for fresh, new ideas, and it turned out Burnett offered the best ideas,” she said.

Executives from runner-up agencies in the review acknowledged that the selection of Burnett seemed like an easy choice for the company. In addition to the cost savings offered through consolidation, they also noted that Greg Field, Hallmark’s vice president of integrated marketing communications, formerly worked at the agency. Field joined Hallmark last year.

Burnett officials were not available for comment. In addition to Hallmark’s consumer advertising ac-count, Burnett handles advertising for Hallmark-owned Binney & Smith, which makes Crayola crayons.