The corporate card

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‘Tis the season of office secret santa and getting a bit too tipsy with the boss. “Happy Holidays!” At least that’s what companies have to say officially. (Nevermind the huge pine tree with blinking lights that towers over three dudes on camels in the lobby.) This is the first in a series of three blogs dedicated to the corporate holidays.

Have you ever walked into an office where the received corporate holiday greeting cards are pinned to a wall? Although they may all be different sizes, colors and shapes, at their core, they are all the same.

A company’s Christmas cards, err, sorry holiday cards are neutral, not mentioning a specific religion, gender, Santa Claus or even showing snow (not to spark a global warming debate), otherwise they will undoubtedly offend all of their clients causing them to take their business elsewhere. As if clients are eagerly expecting the holiday greeting card from their car dealership and then taking note of what the inside flap says. Seriously, unless there’s a BP gas gift card in there, receiving or not receiving a holiday card means nothing to the average consumer (hey, South Motors this is a good idea).

Courtesy Annamatic3000

Couresty Annamatic3000

The truth is that corporate greeting cards have absolutely nothing to do with the holidays anymore. They are just December cards filled with good PR. End of the year look -what-our-marketing-department-can-do cards. Cards that just say hello and show you a sample of the company’s work on the front cover and have a business card that will fly out of it, all meticulously prepared, sorted and licked by a young public relations intern.

Isn’t it a better idea to save all of that money and divide it amongst your employees? Isn’t it a better idea to not spend the money at all so you don’t have to lay-off an employee in December? This may make PR people nervous at first. What will your marketing department do with all the mock-ups? Well, a talented PR department can make you look like a considerate and responsible company and the marketing department can make – get ready for it – an eCard or better yet, a button on your website that says: “View our holiday message.”

A couple of years ago I convinced my boss to make a donation to some reforestation or environmental charity on behalf of the firm and its clients. There was a big green push happening within the industry and that simple gesture was a great way to show concern for the environment and position the company as thoughtful and philanthropic — all great messages for a corporate holiday card.

Only we couldn’t find recycled card stock, so the entire idea was scratched.

Needless to say, we went with the traditional corporate card. The front cover was a nice picture of a finished product and the inside said, “Happy Holidays!” Other than the designer who made it, I don’t think there is anyone in the world that kept it for more than two days. Unless another company pinned it up on their wall and displayed it next to 299 other cards for two weeks.

Look out for the next two entries in this series about the office holiday party and gifting.

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