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The challenge was to create a 4th-quarter Hallmark retail opportunity that was larger and more integrated than the company's past strategy of largely one-off SKUs. The result was NorthPole, a storyworld-driven product, entertainment and marketing program.


Northpole product was featured prominently in Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Hallmark Gold Crown stores and more. Hallmark Channel will be airing their second NorthPole movie in 2015. And spectacular marketing included a Times Square event that allowed children to speak live with our characters from NorthPole. 


Hallmark had never worked across departments and even customers in such an integrated way, nor set their sights so high on what could be achieved through the power of a big idea. And there was no creative mind more involved in developing this intellectual property than mine. 


I gathered a cross-departmental team for input on fantastical questions about Santa's modern home city. Then I worked with a smaller team to develop an 80-page story-bible rich with "facts" about NorthPole and its residents that fueled product, entertainment and marketing. By the time the franchise launched, our core team was fluent in details including elf names, favorite NorthPole restaurants and the local lingo. Exploring NorthPole was a magical time that I'll never forget.

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During initial storyworld development, I worked with talented Hallmark artist Matt Kesler as he sketched up the rich world of NorthPole and its inhabitants.
For years, I spent more time out on TV production than I did in the office. How would that experience compare to creating a movie? Turns out, they aren't so different. Location scouts, choosing talent, getting the sets dressed just right—all those details matter, whether the script covers 30 seconds or two hours. I worked with the Hallmark Channel team and the screenwriters to land the story, then was involved in production all the way through computer graphics. 
The NorthPole Communicator was the signature product in this franchise. It shared our storyworld with the children who tuned in every night. A supersized fiberglass version anchored a series of family events across the country. And it was practically a character in the NorthPole movie. Many more of the items used every day in NorthPole were also brought to stores down here in the "South."
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