COLORADO SPRINGS: American Greetings, the greetings card company, is seeking to tap moments of "cultural tension" in order to reach large audiences and drive key brand metrics.

Alex Ho, the firm's Executive Director/Marketing, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Digital & Social Media Marketing Conference.

"A 'cultural tension' is simply a consumer insight that resonates on a broad level. So it may not be right for everyone. If your marketing is all about targeted, segmented approaches and you need a laser[-guided] message, fine," said Ho. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: American Greetings taps "cultural tension" to drive impactful marketing.)

"But if you need something that moves universal public opinion, you also need to push off something that is resonant on a universal and cultural level."

One example of this philosophy in action involved the brand aiming to tackle a perceived crisis of civility in America by asking people to create "thank lists" where they showed gratitude to individuals who were important in their lives.

This campaign let consumers create personalised videos and messages, and was supported by short films created with Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple. It also featured actress Elizabeth Banks and media mogul Arianna Huffington.

"A cultural tension is simply a consumer insight that resonates on a broad level," Ho continued. "Great insights drive great creative and that drives great results."

Such results, in turn, are essential in a sector which is under threat from changing habits and behaviours in the digital age – a shift that American Greetings could not afford to ignore.

"The biggest threat to brand relevance isn't that people reject you. It's that people don't care," Ho said. "And if people aren't talking about you at all, you've got a problem.

"Our challenge is that we're now the category leader in units in the US and globally, but most people don't know us. So how can you have a conversation with people about a topic you want to talk about if they don't know who they're talking about? So building both the category and brand was really important for us."

Data sourced from Warc