Hallmark’s Jaci Twidwell shares how they pulled together a massive social media activation at the Super Bowl using their portfolio of brands

This was our first opportunity to really showcase Hallmark's portfolio of businesses.

Jaci Twidwell, Public Relations and Social Media Director for Product and Marketing at Hallmark, had quite a task before her when — just 45 days before the big game — she found out the company was going to be Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Sponsors.

“We knew we were going to be at the Super Bowl by early December, and I was mindful that most brands had been working on their plans for a year. We also knew there would be rules and regulations around a Super Bowl promotion, but we had never experienced parameters of this nature before,” says Jaci. “Every idea we came up with always had a wrinkle in it. Also, we had so many business partners involved that our first step was to figure out who was doing what and why, and try to figure out how to tie it all together.”

And, as Jaci points out, this was in December — Hallmark's busiest month for sales, marketing, and PR.

For Jaci and her team, this campaign included a lot of firsts.

“Usually, programs are focused on one area of the business, like a new greeting card innovation or driving traffic to our retail stores. This was our first opportunity to really showcase Hallmark's portfolio of businesses,” says Jaci.

“It was a perfect storm at the Super Bowl: Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl planned a live activation, Hallmark Gold Crown stores in the region were selling NFL products, the company's Crayola Experience attraction at Mall of America was featuring football-themed activities, and the greeting card business wanted to capitalize on a captive male audience right before Valentine's Day.”

It wasn't until January that Jaci and her team really were all hands on deck for the campaign — one month before the Super Bowl LIVE 10-day festival began.

This campaign was the first time that Hallmark had been able to connect four of its branded businesses: Hallmark Greetings, Hallmark Gold Crown stores, Crayola, and Hallmark Channel.

“My role was to bring team members together across four businesses to ensure complimentary messaging,” explains Jaci.

“We wanted to showcase Hallmark's businesses through our traditional media and our social content,” says Jaci. “So we inserted Hallmark into an event that consumers care about. We love real time opportunities, so we thought Super Bowl LIVE was a great bet.”

A central component of Hallmark's Super Bowl LIVE effort was Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl.

The rules were complex and hard to navigate with so little time to plan, but the host committee team and NFL were great partners.

Every year Hallmark Channel hosts their Kitten Bowl, which features rescue kittens on a miniature football field vying for the National Championship and a Feline Football trophy.

“This was the fifth Kitten Bowl, but it's not usually a real-life activation that consumers can witness in-person,” explains Jaci. “It's usually shot on a sound stage in LA. But this year, the Super Bowl Host Committee wanted the Kitten Bowl on-site. The amazing team at Hallmark Channel worked to put the activation together. And even though my team wasn't directly involved, we were able to tie in the event as a component of our overall corporate story.”

The Kitten Bowl ran during Super Bowl LIVE — at Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis — and families were able to see the kittens in person and share their experiences on social media, or follow the #KittenBowl play-by-play on Hallmark Channel's Twitter. It was among the most popular activations in the mall because it was a free attraction, involved a partnership with a not-for-profit pet adoption agency, and appealed to kids and families of all ages.

The Kitten Bowl campaign wasn't the only activation Hallmark featured on social.

“We were able to negotiate with the committee to secure one of the two snow globes at Super Bowl LIVE,” says Jaci. Hundreds of visitors had an opportunity to step inside the football-shaped globe and keepsake their memories from the event.

Jaci and her team also worked to put together a Hallmark Greetings Valentine's Day pop-up shop for one of their activations. They orchestrated a media integration with a local TV station featuring daily news stories over a five-day period featuring four of the Hallmark businesses throughout the week.

“In addition, we created a contest where our fans and followers could share one of their touchdown moments to enter to win a Visa gift card to celebrate that moment with their loved ones,” says Jaci. “And those moments didn't have to be connected to the Super Bowl. It could be that you got married, or that you had twins.” To enter, participants would follow @Hallmark on Instagram or Twitter and tag their entries with #TouchdownMomentContest.

“However, the one caveat that was hard with the Super Bowl, and with the NFL, is that you can't go national until the day of the game.”

“We had to keep promotions geo-targeted to Minnesota until game day per the official rules, so that really restricted our reach,” says Jaci. That led to smaller initial numbers, but a lot of local excitement around Hallmark and its on-site events.

“The rules were complex and hard to navigate with so little time to plan, but the host committee team and NFL were great partners,” says Jaci. “We peppered them with questions, and they did their best to guide us through the process.”

“We made sure that we gave all of our businesses love via social media, but the pure magic came when we embraced surprising crossovers.” says Jaci.

We received 2.25 billion impressions over the course of our activations.

“Having Hallmark Channel stars Holly Robinson-Peete and Rodney Peete ‘go live' from the Crayola Experience at the Mall of America was a great example of that. People are always surprised that Crayola is part of the Hallmark family, and telling our portfolio of brands story was one of our main objectives.”

Engaging talent from Hallmark Channel at targeted events and on game day helped their multi-brand strategy grow exponentially. “We received significant engagement about what we were doing across the span of the ten-day Super Bowl LIVE festival,” says Jaci.

Jaci credits the success of the campaign to her team and the incredible, fast work they were able to do.

“The fact that we were able to do this in 30 days really comes down to the amazing team,” says Jaci. “We're not fans of the all hands on deck mentality, obviously, because it's very stressful. However, in this case we had to work that way, so I'm lucky that everyone around me stepped forward to do whatever was needed.”

Looking back on the success of the campaign, Jaci shares that Hallmark received significant learnings from the experience.

“Our involvement throughout Super Bowl LIVE effectively put the national spotlight on our portfolio of businesses, and we saw the impact of that in its results,” says Jaci. “We received 2.25 billion impressions over the course of our activations, which shows just how powerful that portfolio can be.”

Jaci and her team plan on fine-tuning this strategy as they move forward. “We recognized that our execution could have been stronger and more impactful if we had focused on doing fewer things better,” explains Jaci. “So we are going to take those learnings and continue to use them to guide future campaigns.”

Jaci Twidwell has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2013. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.