Industry opts for e-cards this season

Hollywood saving cash, trees with switch

It’s beginning to look a lot like e-Christmas.

The studios, production companies and agencies are spreading cheer with their annual deluge of holiday cards. But unlike in years past, the majority of cards this season are arriving in email inboxes rather than via the mailroom.

Most in the industry are citing cost savings and environmental concerns for the turn from snail-mail greetings to their electronic counterparts.

One major studio said that switching to e-cards will save more than $40,000 on printing and mailing hard cards.

Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros., MGM, TLC, Imagine Entertainment, Mandate Pictures and ICM are among the Hollywood institutions eschewing the old-fashioned stamp-and-envelope offerings in favor of Flash-heavy e-cards.

Management and production company Benderspink created one of the most buzzed-about holiday greetings with a sendup of “Slumdog Millionaire’s” dance finale. The video, which cost virtually nothing, was posted on YouTube and sent to the company’s usual Christmas card recipients.

“It took us about one week to make the video. We had an hour to learn the moves and 90 minutes to shoot it,” said JC Spink of the two-minute-plus Web wish, which was directed by client Brendan Malloy. “The only cost was the scarf we bought for me. It was pretty much gas money, coffee money and that’s it.”

Spink said his company, like nearly every Hollywood outfit, is going “light” this year on holiday spending. The savings can be substantial.

In addition to belt-tightening, environmentally conscious companies feel that e-cards are more in line with their green objectives. Sony, which transitioned to e-cards last year, made a donation to the World Wildlife Fund in conjunction with this year’s e-card. Similarly, ICM said it moved to an online version of its holiday greeting out of eco-concerns. The agency made a donation to the environmental nonprofit American Forests.

“It’s a nice way to send your holiday cheer without killing a lot of trees,” said Steve Elzer, senior VP of media relations at SPE.

TLC’s e-card even offered the following advice: “Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s our households typically generate 25% more garbage than the rest of the whole year,” it said. “One of the things causing all that clutter are greeting cards. Over 2.7 billion are sent every holiday season and you can bet not all of them get recycled. So this year, go paperless.”

Hollywood is overwhelmingly heeding the call.

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