32nd LOUIE Awards Committee

Happy spring, GCA members!

I hope spring is greeting you with sunshine and optimism!

As in recent years, springtime is when the LOUIE judging takes place to determine the finalists and winners based on the criteria of Originality, Impact, Design Excellence, Sendability and Value.

For the first time, we held the judging in 5 locations across the country.  This allowed smaller groups to get together without much travel involved, yet still ensure there was diversity and objectivity in the judging process.  We were pleased with the enthusiasm, passion and flexibility of all the judges to make this possible.

Special thanks to the “hub” leads – Susan January, Fern Gimbleman, Cathy and Carlos Llanso, and Victoria Venturi for partnering with me.   I had a great day with the Cleveland judges as American Greetings was also one of the hubs.

I am excited we’ll be announcing the finalists at the NOTED event, scheduled for May 20th and 21st, and then following up with a LOUIE celebration to showcase the finalists and reveal the winners in July.  More to come on the LOUIE event details — a  night to celebrate our amazing industry.

I know I mentioned this last month, but I think it is worth repeating.   I’m excited about our amazing partnerships that are showing their support for our industry. Here’s a few benefits that we’ve recently announced to provide more visibility, recognition, and sales opportunities for winners!

Take a look…

  • Finalists will be announced at *Noted in front of hundreds of retailers.
  • GCA Marketplace will showcase Louie finalists and winners with direct links to buy.
  • Atlanta Market  will have the winning cards on display.
  • Faire will highlight Louie history with a landing page celebrating past winners and cards earning 2021’s top honors.
  • A digital Winner’s Kit will be available to help you promote your Louie-winning designs.

So,  please join us in May for the NOTED event!

Stay creative, and bring a smile to someone’s day, it just take one card 😊

Mary Beth Sibert
2021 LOUIE Chair 

Membership Committee

The membership committee is excited to be off to a busy start in 2021. Your GCA membership has never been more valuable.  We are excited to bring fresh opportunities to grow your business with the new GCA Marketplace and Virtual Noted. Our popular Town Halls have been well attended with companies both big and small. Join us if you haven’t yet – it’s a great way to connect, learn tricks of the trade and just hang out with some of the friendliest and most generous folks in any industry, EVER.

Alan Friedman
Membership Committee Chair

Public Affairs Committee

Postmaster General DeJoy is Not a Magician But His Plan Could Make Mail Disappear

By Rafe Morrissey, GCA Vice President Public Affairs

In a March 24, 2021, Washington Post interview, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was quoted as stating, “I’m not a magician. I can’t create the need for mail.”  Earlier in the interview, he commented, “I’m not chasing mail volume down because I’m going where we see growth.” That combination of pessimism and self-defeating attitude towards traditional mail undergirds much of the new 10-year operational plan he debuted last month.

The plan has some significant positives but poses many challenges for Market Dominant products like greeting cards, advertising mail, and periodicals.  On the plus side, the plan makes a firm commitment to maintaining a 6-day delivery schedule for mail and delivering mail and packages together.  This is something the greeting card industry has worked hard to protect and reflects a much stronger devotion to this important standard than any of DeJoy’s last three predecessors.

The plan also supports key pillars of the comprehensive postal reform legislation that Congress badly needs to pass and does not seek to inject any new provisions that would bog the legislation down further.  Finally, the plan sets forth a break-even approach that does not seek to accumulate large amounts of residual profits.  This is consistent with the USPS’s public service responsibility.

Unfortunately, there are numerous elements of the plan that pose grave risks for our citizen-mailer greeting card customers and the broader mailing industry.  A fundamental problem is that despite claims of stakeholder input in the plan, the USPS did not consult with any of its traditional mail customers.  This reflects a pattern of lack of engagement with the industry that DeJoy has exhibited throughout his tenure.

Another major concern is that the plan seeks much higher revenue from postage rates that portend higher stamp prices soon as well as large increases for other traditional mail products.  This is based on the increased pricing authority granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission which has been vigorously opposed by the industry and remains under challenge in the appellate court.  A key argument from mailers is that prices far above the rate of inflation will drive away business and the plan appears to embrace that.  It projects mail volume will plummet from 142 billion pieces to just 82 billion by the end of the ten years- a 42% decline in volume!

Even more troubling is that the plan seeks to couple higher stamp prices with a service reduction for First Class Mail by extending delivery times from 2-3 days to 3-5 days.  The plan asserts that only a small portion of mail currently traveling by air that would be moved to trucks would be impacted, but the proposal is concerning both because of its discriminatory impact on a single class (no other mail product services are affected) and the fact that similar cuts in service have not resulted in projected financial savings in the recent past.

Lastly, the plan projects $34 billion in savings but provides no detail on how they will be achieved, while no proposals are offered to curtail the USPS’s biggest cost driver, labor expense.   Rather, the plan seeks to grow the number of career employees by transitioning lower-cost part-time workers into permanent positions.

The plan is very much focused on optimizing service and growing package volumes at the expense of traditional mail.  Robust growth in package volumes would be helpful to maintain the system but it would be much better to adopt a more comprehensive approach to grow all mail products.  The GCA has proven that it doesn’t take magic to grow greeting card mail volumes, just a bit of dedicated focus and hard work.  Our collaboration with the USPS marketing team turned around four years of volume declines into three years of growth adding 160 million cards into the mail over three years.  We proved that even a mail category that has been greatly impacted by digital competition can see volume growth if efforts are made to achieve it.

Postmaster General DeJoy may not be a magician that can make people mail, but he most certainly has the power to make them not mail.  We remain committed to working with the USPS to expand the affordability, convenience, and value of the mail for greeting card senders.  If the service standard change for First Class Mail is adopted we will be urging that other measures be taken to improve the value of mail for our customers like higher weight limits for cards and incentive pricing that can help grow greeting cards in the mail.

Thinking of You Week Committee 

Nicky Burton, Calypso Cards, Committee Chair

Our 4th annual Thinking of You Week will take place September 20 -26th 2021.

As a reminder of the goals and benefits of Thinking of You Week:

Thinking of you Week is our consumer-facing window, allowing us to reach out to the consumer through social media and retailers, and encourage them to keep card-sending top of mind.  Unlike “traditional” holidays that are already on the calendar and heavily promoted by greeting card publishers, Thinking of You Week encourages non-seasonal card sending. In addition to reaching out directly to consumers, Thinking of You Week allows us to interact with and support retailers by providing them with tools and a reason to draw customers into their store and engage with the greeting card category

Thinking of You Week has specific benefits for our industry:

  • It warms up the card-writing muscle during a “dead period” prior to the Fall/Winter holidays.
  • It brings the industry together to lift the entire category
  • It is a unique pull campaign that helps our retailers gain more greeting card sales

Thinking of You Week will have a booth at *Noted! If you are planning on a Thinking of You Week promotion (and you should!) make sure you include that during your *Noted booth setup. Companies running TOYW specials will be included in the TOYW booth!

The committee is starting to gather ideas and we welcome anyone who would like to contribute in any way – ideas, help with social media, help spreading the word! It can be as small or large a contribution as you are able!

If you are interested in joining any of our committees, contact gca@greetingcard.org