U offers eCards for Valentine?s

By By Alex Cragun, Staff Writer

By Alex Cragun, Staff Writer

Roses and candy are being replaced by a little red dog and bug-eyed hawk this Valentine’s Day at the U.

In a campaign designed to reach out to U students and community members through electronic cards, the marketing and communications department on campus developed eCards with newly created cartoon characters Red Rover and Lil Swoop.

The department created the eCards two years ago as part of an effort to connect the U with the community and high schools. The cards now encompass humorous Valentine’s Day scenes, as well as birthday and congratulatory greetings.

“The little characters were (originally) created to get messages across to faculty and staff in our FYI newsletter,” said Mark Woodland, associate vice president of marketing and communications.

Woodland said that about a year ago, a staff member received an eCard and got the idea for the U to create their own eCards. Chris Miller and Trent James, improvisational comedians from a local troupe called ComedySportz, designed the characters.

Miller and James created a miniature cartoon version of Swoop, dubbed Lil Swoop, and his dog friend, Red Rover, that talk to each other in short scenes around campus.

“We kept (Chris and Trent) in a small room “til they went insane,” Woodland said.

Josh Paulsen, a marketing specialist for the U, said although the U is not directly making money off the eCards, it might benefit the U by possibly recruiting additional students. The total cost of the project was estimated at $350.

“We were able to negotiate a very favorable deal because the animation studio was owned by (a) U alumnus,” Paulsen said.

He said they plan to broaden the availability of the cards by setting up access to them on other Web sites, such as the U’s YouTube account, and allowing them to be shared through a Facebook application.

Although the cards were launched in October, Paulsen said the most popular times for distributing them are Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Because Valentine’s Day is coming up, the cards have been used three to four times more than usual.

John Fierro, a senior in political science, said he plans to send a card to a Ute fan or another student.

“It’s cheeky; I like it,” Fierro said. “I normally don’t send eCards, but I would (send these).”

The department plans to produce other eCards in relation to St. Patrick’s Day, Finals Week, graduation and a “thank you for the date” card, all of which will be available by May. There are nine cards currently, ranging from Valentine’s cards to cards gloating over lost football games.

For more information or to send an eCard, visit www.ecardsfromu.utah.edu.

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