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Archive for Friday, September 18, 2009

Net Worth: Greetings get personal (and personalized) through e-cards

September 18, 2009

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I had a friend who wrote greeting cards for Hallmark back in the ’80s. I heard him mention once that the most difficult part of the job was coming up with new ways to say the exact same thing.

But that was prior to the Internet. Now, even if you’re saying the same thing, you have an opportunity to present it in entirely new ways.

Take the e-card, for instance.

What used to be merely a lazy way to send a belated birthday greeting has turned into a more time-intensive and ultimately rewarding method to entertain recipients. And it doesn’t cost $4.95 plus postage (sorry, Hallmark).

For a slick example, go to JibJab, which offers “Funny e-cards, birthday cards and more.”

What makes the site enjoyable is its core concept of having all the material personalized. Take a card that shows a “Mars Attacks!”-style alien carrying away a bikini-wearing damsel with the caption “You’re out of this world!” The site allows one to paste the image of someone else’s face onto the girl — assumedly, the person to whom you’re sending the card.

This is cranked up several notches on the site through video e-cards. I experimented with one titled “Soul Train Birthday” that features clips from the awesome dance show of my youth. “Soul Train” wasn’t exactly known for its conservative hairstyles and fashions, and the card allows you to place two individuals’ heads onto the afro-sporting, miniskirt-wearing, wide-lapeled-favoring folks gyrating in the aisles.

In this case, I imported the mugs of my 6-year-old daughter and 77-year-old mother-in-law. The site of their taciturn faces while they boogie-oogie-oogied made the imagery that much more sidesplitting. It took awhile to match the pictures with the bodies, but a good joke should involve a little work.

If you’re seeking a quicker and less nurturing vehicle to get your thoughts across in e-card mode, then I suggest Bluntcard. The site doesn’t employ any moving parts, just witty writing matched with ironic imagery.

Visually, Bluntcard unites garish colors and whitebread illustrations from McCarthy-era magazine ads. But the typically R-rated sentiments the cards express are slightly more modern.

One such piece depicts a darling infant clutching the pearls of a June Cleaver-esque woman. The caption reads: “How long do I have to hold your baby and pretend I give a (expletive) about babies?”

Themes for these cards include:

Birthdays: “I was going to make you a rum cake, but now it’s just a cake and I’m drunk.”

Man Stuff: “Darling, please tell me I’m the only verbally abusive, unappreciative, womanizing, alcoholic in your life.”

I Hate You: “You’re always so well coordinated. Like how your bland personality matches your plain looks.”

Maybe in a few years, the term “Hallmark moment” will be replaced with “Bluntcard trauma.”

— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.

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