In 1905 a young Polish man named Jacob Sapirstein arrived in America. He became a jobber of postcards – a popular item at the time – buying stock from German manufacturers to sell to the local merchants of Cleveland, Ohio.
Sapirstein borrowed $50 from the bank to start American Greetings. Now, more than 100 years later, the company generates around $1.7 billion in revenues from its worldwide operation.
“By attending BLE for the first time, we hope to demonstrate that American Greetings Properties is serious about the European market and that we have a lot of fantastic properties that appeal to a wide range of consumers. We’d like to increase the awareness for and the desire to license our brands,” says Gabrielle Oliff, VP brand and marketing at American Greetings.
The company’s top properties are American Greetings (of course), Carlton Cards, Gibson, Recycled Paper Greetings, and Papyrus.
Apart from greetings, AG’s paper product brands include DesignWare for party goods, Plus Mark for gift-wrap and boxed cards and Date Works in calendars.
Oliff says: “Our first licence was for Holly Hobbie way back in 1977. American Greetings received a phone call to place the “little blue girl” on some home goods and the business and licensing department grew from there.”
Holly Hobbie is still going strong today, with Holly Hobbie Classic targeted at women aged 25 and over, and the Holly Hobbie & Friends brand for girls aged four to seven, which Oliff explains is the “great granddaughter of the original Holly Hobbie, bright, happy, and a natural born leader.”
Other character brands include Strawberry Shortake, the WotWots, Twisted Whiskers, Madballs and Care Bears.
Oliff says: “For the WotWots, we are looking to sign on new agents to represent the brand in Europe. Care Bears – with new entertainment and toy line announcements coming soon – is wide open for licensing opportunities and for more established brands such as Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobbie we are looking to round out our licensing portfolio.
“BLE is a rapidly expanding show that focuses on one of the key territories for the American Greetings Properties’ business. It is essential that we are there in order to spread the word about our brands and have face to face meetings with current and potential partners.”