Valentine's Day is about one thing and one thing only: Snoopy cards.
Okay, it's also about love, romance, and the people you hold dear. But if your family is anything like mine, then Valentine's Day and Peanuts have always gone hand-in-hand. This coming October marks the 70th anniversary of Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip, so what better time could there possibly be to focus on the beloved Hallmark Snoopy cards that have been filling our mailboxes (and our hearts) since as far back as most of us can remember?
I sat down with Hannah Guy, Director of Marketing & Communication at Peanuts Worldwide, for the inside Snoop.
Valentine's Day must be an exciting time for Peanuts.
There are so many of these points throughout the year when Peanuts really is top of mind. We always think of Christmas and Great Pumpkin; those are the top two. But Valentine's is really strong for us, as well.
Peanuts is a pretty big brand within the card space.
Yes, definitely. Hallmark is, I believe, our longest running partner at this point, if you put aside the syndication of the strips. They've been a partner for 60 years. That's one of the things that we're focusing on for our 70th anniversary. The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, which is a separate entity from us–it's a nonprofit–they actually have an exhibit that's open right now about the history of Peanuts and Hallmark. We have some archival images of very early greeting cards and Valentines.
Peanuts Product Catalog 1960sPeanuts Worldwide/Hallmark
That'd be really cool to see.
It is really cool. They've been a partner since before I was born. The story of how they became a partner is that there was just one of the card designers in Kansas city who happened to be a Peanuts fan. Peanuts was syndicated fairly widely within the US, but it was only about the late '50s when these conversations started happening, so it wasn't the phenomenon that it is today. [NOTE: The first Peanuts and Hallmark greeting card was printed in 1960.] But this card designer there felt really strongly that Peanuts would translate perfectly to greeting cards. So it was just a test of five cards originally that were sold at a handful of stores in the Kansas City area. Then those did really well, and the program just grew and grew and grew. Here we are sixty years later, and it's not only your birthday cards and your just saying hello cards, but a huge seasonal program, really a 365 program on Hallmark.
It's crazy. I grew up getting Peanuts cards for pretty much every event. My mom would always get me a Snoopy card.
We hear that all the time. It's one of those touch points for people. Like, people who are Peanuts card families.
Yeah, that was a really big thing for me. There was actually one time that I accidentally tore one of the cards my mom got me. I was very young. I accidentally tore the card and then I cried, so she got me the same Peanuts card the next year.
It's really funny and special. This is a bit of a tangent, but we're really powerful on social media. And I think it makes sense when you think about it, because the original form of Peanuts, the comic strip, is basically a form of social media–super digestible, can brighten your day.
It's contained, and it's coming out on a frequent basis.
Exactly. Of course, some of them were part of longer stories that extended for a few days or even for a few weeks, but you just needed to read those four panels to get the emotion, get the joke. That's exactly what social media is today. And that's also what a Hallmark card is. You know, it's that quick expression of emotion that translates from a newspaper to an Instagram post.
Would you say that Peanuts cards have evolved over the years or have they mostly stayed consistent?
I think it's stayed fairly consistent, but I believe that those earliest cards...were heavily focused on Charlie Brown and not as much Snoopy. That also probably has to do with the era in which they came out. Snoopy, as we know him today, really evolved quite a lot from his first appearance in 1950 through when he started standing on two legs and taking on all of these other personas. Today, for sure, Snoopy is the hero, but Charlie Brown is on a lot of cards, as are the whole gang in different combinations of characters. I think it does always come back to the expression, trying to capture some of the emotion that is present in the strip. When it comes to Charlie Brown and Valentine's Day, sometimes it can be a little sadder view, you know, not getting any Valentines. But then you have Snoopy. He's always willing to spread a little love.
First ever Snoopy Valentine's Day card from 1963Peanuts Worldwide/Hallmark
Do you guys do the card stuff in-house or is that on Hallmark's end?
In terms of the actual product design, Hallmark handles the bulk of that.
So if somebody wanted to become the guy who writes the Snoopy cards, they would have to be working at Hallmark?
A little more big picture, in the card space, Snoopy and Peanuts are competing against so many major brands, like Marvel and Disney, that just have this constant saturation in the media. Why do you think Peanuts is able to stay so on top of that space, even when they're competing against brands that are so saturated?
That's something we talk about all the time here. I think I have to give credit to Charles Schulz and go back to the source material. He wrote 18,000 strips over the course of his career. He didn't work with other illustrators or ghost writers. Everything in this strip came from him. So anytime we're thinking, "What do we do to keep the brand fresh?" we can go back to the strip and find something that speaks to the current day. Most of what drives this strip is, again, that human emotion, human experiences, things that everyone can relate to, whether it's having a bossy older sister or feeling like you're the loser in your friend group or, you know, unrequited love.
Wrapping up, are there any upcoming Snoopy things for Valentine's Day that you wanted to highlight?
The one thing that I definitely want to mention is that Charlie Brown Valentine will be airing on February 14th on ABC at 8:00 PM. Something that's really special about the TV specials, particularly here in the US, is that it's still a point in television. People are still getting together with their kids and their families to watch it. That's pretty rare these days.This interview is part of our larger series on the 70th Anniversary of Snoopy.