Roses Are Red, Card Sellers Blue

Buffeted by technology and demography, greeting-card companies struggle with the medium and the message

Since Bill and Hillary swept into the White House six years ago, American Greetings has proudly trumpeted the First Family's annual holiday card as its greatest prize. Of late, though, some artists at the Cleveland-based company have been itching to lampoon their most famous customers, but worry about offending retailers. Sighs one illustrator: "We won't be doing any cigar gags, that's for sure."

They had better think of something. The big U.S. greeting-card companies are having a hard time tickling funny bones, warming hearts and sparking reflection. And they've got big demographic and cultural problems. Grandma's cohort, traditionally an easy audience...

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