Birthday Character Greetings from Netflix

Netflix is looking to become even more enmeshed in our day-to-day lives. How so? The company this month announced an “easier way to make kids’ birthday dreams come true.” The fact that their initiative will only further enhance kids’ loyalty to Netflix characters is conveniently downplayed in the streaming service’s PR for its 15 Birthdays-on-Demand.

Netflix birthday

Image: Netflix.com

Instead, the company focuses on the pressure parents feel to make a birthday special. Unwieldy headline aside, “New Netflix Hack Helps Parents Blow Out the Candles on the Birthday Party Hijinks,” the press release is a smart one. It even incorporates a survey into the discussion of its new service to add credibility.

  • 44% parents admit to feeling social-media fueled pressure to give their kids a huge party
  • 69% wish they didn’t have to go Pinterest-crazy to give their kids a good time
  • 67% of parents globally agree that birthday planning is stressful

Enter Netflix to Save the Birthday

Positioning their service as a “new hack” — because everything of value today is a hack, right? — Netflix touts, “parents can simply press play and kids’ favorite characters will sing them a special birthday greeting – made just for them (or so they’ll think).”

This apparently “[takes] the celebrations to the next level – no cake baking all-nighter required – by letting kids celebrate with Trollhunters or Pokėmon, anytime, anywhere.”

In fact, kids can enjoy a special birthday performance from characters appearing in:

  • DreamWorks’ All Hail King Julien, Dinotrux or Trollhunters
  • Barbie
  • Beat Bugs
  • Las Leyendas
  • LEGO Friends or Ninjago
  • Luna Petunia
  • Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug
  • Cat Noir
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,
  • Pokemon
  • Project Mc2
  • Skylanders Academy
  • Word Party
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.56.44 PM

Image: Netflix.com

Not convinced, Netflix

OK, it’s a cute idea. I’ll likely even set up a Ninjago or Trollhunters one for my son come February. But, let’s be honest here. This is not the be-all end-all solution to birthday party angst. This is likely to be less than five minutes of fresh entertainment related to my kiddo’s birthday. That still leaves me with a birthday party to plan, cake to bake, and balloons to blow up.

Really, Netflix has just added one more thing to do. Because once a kid hears from her friends about getting a birthday greeting from Luna Petunia, she’ll be wanting one for herself too. Even putting the whole product release in terms of making life easier isn’t going to distract me from the fact that the streaming service is looking to find another foothold into the imagination of children.

But, nicely played, Netflix. Nicely played.

 

 

 

 

Birthday Card as Time Capsule

The headline on a recent story had me thinking, “so what?” After all The Daily Times was reporting: “Mail Call: Friends swap birthday greeting back and forth for 20 years.” I was thinking, I have plenty of friends I have been wishing birthday greetings to for more than 20 years!

But I did read on, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun thing Sherry Hillis and Patsy Lunde have done for decades. They’ve been sending the exam same Peanuts cartoon birthday card back and forth. The same one — for 20 years.

“Roses are red, cookies are chewy,” it says underneath her picture. On the inside, “A Year of Your Life has just gone Ka-Plooey! Happy Birthday!!”

But, what really makes the card special is the things they have written to each other over the years. Lunde even added pages to the card so that the two women could continue to catch up with one another every year.

Hallmark’s Loss

Lunde first picked out the card first for Hillis’s Sept. 1 birthday. Hillis turned around and sent it back to Lunde for her birthday just days later — Sept. 5.

That’s what they’ve been doing annually even as their careers took them in different directions — they started the tradition while both employed at the same hospital — and the children that they first met through (the girls swam together in school) grew up.

“Hallmark is losing money on us,” Lunde said.

I want to start this tradition with my friends right now! I love the idea of having an annual catch-up outside of the now obligatory Christmas card. The card that serves as an annual reminder also of what has come before and how much we friends continue to mean to each other.

Really, find someone you love, and start sharing a time line birthday greeting today. It will add even more to both of your special days.

4 Tips to Make Forgetting Birthdays Better

My big brother’s birthday is tomorrow. His gift should already have arrived. I am writing about him in this blog. I am clearly aware that the big day is January 28th. He’s my brother. How could I forget?

Only one year I did. Almost. I only remembered that I had not yet called in to wish him “Happy Birthday” as midnight encroached. I was, as you can easily imagine considering the fact that I blog about birthdays, absolutely mortified. Who knows what various work and life timing had interfered with my calling earlier in the day — surely, I meant to. Yet, I’d forgotten. And now it was too late to call…

So, my brother woke up the next day to a flurry of late night communications from me via email and on his work voice mail. When I reached him in person the next day to apologize in earnest he laughed heartily. He’d fully enjoyed my self-flagellation in my several “appalled at myself” messages — as any one would revel in the rare repentance of a sibling.

Thinking about this shameful slip-up years later, it occurred to me that I ought to offer some helpful tips to make forgetting a birthday go better. Learning from experience is part of how we grow, right?

4 Tips to Make Forgetting a Birthday Better

  1. Apologize. Pretending it didn’t happen is not going to make up for the oversight. Instead, be upfront about your mistake and your regrets that you didn’t fully fete the friend, family member, or colleague celebrating his or her special day.
  2. Employ humor. Wander down the card aisles and you’ll see many options for “belated birthday” greetings. You’ll be hard pressed, though, to find one that is sappy about the gaffe. Instead, these cards tend to be hilariously penitent while still reminding the celebrant how much you love and appreciate them.
  3. Get creative. There is actually a thorough wikiHow devoted to this topic. Among its creative suggestions are:
    • make a jigsaw puzzle apology
    • offer I’m sorry coupons
    • develop a scavenger hunt
    • go on the air to apologize (for those of use who have a radio show or the patience to dial and dial again until the radio station takes our call).
  4. Be there in person. Sharing your time with the birthday individual, even after the fact, can quickly turn the tide. After all, if you take the person for coffee (and cake) or a birthday lunch, you’re likely to spend more time together than you might have on the actual day.

In looking online to see what people are saying about this topic, I also came across a lot of hilarious memes that the person whose birthday is forgotten can use. I’ll share those with you in another blog next month….that is, unless I forget.

 

The Politics of Birthdays

I am going to have to start suspecting anyone who wants to know my birthday!

So, I’ve written about advertisers wanting to know our birthdays to better target us. Plus, twitter wants to know your birthday now, too, so that it can — yes — give the information to advertisers. But now politicos are getting in on the action too!

I was intrigued by a headline announcing presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was asking her supporters for their birthdates. On her site, under the headline, “Who doesn’t love birthdays?” we’re told “Hillary always remembers a birthday.” We’re then promised a “personal note” on our special day if we provide an email address, zipcode, and date of birth.

That’s the thing, points out the New York Times’ Derek Willis. With a date of birth along with zip code, Clinton’s campaign can better target its campaign communications. “The date she’s even more interested in is Nov. 8, 2016. Election Day.”

I noted the date of birth form asks for the year of birth. We don’t really need to know how old someone is to send them a birthday greeting, yet it will help Clinton’s team in determining what messages to send and when.

You know what, though? I’m still interested in what Clinton will say in a “personal” email on my birthday. So, I signed up. Of course, once I did the campaign asked me for $. I’ll wait to see what she says on my birthday before deciding to make any contribution!

Political birthdays

Photo credit: SEIU International / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA