Denny’s Daily Zinger: The P.R. Value of Christmas Cards

The Obamas' approach to Christmas cards has evolved since they entered the White House in 2009.

Whenever comedian Red Skelton did a live stand-up gig, he would dutifully get the names and addresses of the local committee members and dignitaries involved.
Back at his hotel, Skelton would write personal notes to each on Christmas cards and address the envelopes. Then in early December, he would mail them. The result: thrilled townspeople and repeat engagements.

The Obamas’ Conundrum
When Barack and Michelle Obama got to the White House in 2009, they were flush with the success of victory.

They were also basking in the good wishes and love of the American majority who voted for them (52.9 percent of the electorate).

That December, they posed for a warm, fuzzy family Christmas card in front of the White House. Included were Mom and Pop Obama, the two daughters and Bo, the Portuguese water dog given them by Teddy Kennedy.

That first term was rough. President Obama hoped to be a conciliator, but he discovered a huge percentage of the country deeply resented him. In 2014, he admitted to David Remnick of The New Yorker:

There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President.

Merry Christmases From the Obamas
The Obamas “got it.” No more stirring the racial pot with a Christmas photo of African-Americans on the White House lawn.

[Click on the thumbnail in media player at right for the 2008 and subsequent holiday greetings from the First Family.]

P.R. masterpieces!

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His next book will be “WRITE EVERYTHING RIGHT!” Visit him at or contact him at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Tim Orr

    Not about the Obamas, but about cards: Years ago, I learned that if you send a Christmas card, it will quickly be lost among the dozens or even hundreds received. On the other hand, if you send a Thanksgiving card, yours may very well be the only one on the mantelpiece or credenza. Plus, you have no worries about whether you’re offending someone’s religious sentiments. And, what could be more appropriate, especially in a business context, than sending a card of thanks? I even offer this free sentiment: "As we sit down to give thanks this year, we will remember that you are responsible for many of the blessings we have received."

  • mikewrite


    I think it’s a lot more than Christmas cards or racism why a huge percentage of Americans resent Obama.

  • Meg Nugent Hodges

    Sorry Denny, but as I viewed these progressively more and more elaborate cards, I saw red. And as an voting Independent, it’s not about what color state I’m from or what color the man in office is. I see yet another frilly expenditure of taxpayer dollars from a White House that doesn’t hesitate to spend on lavish family travel (including the dog flying separately on at least one occasion!) while our national debt soars at an alarming rate.

    While the art director in me would love to design the pop-up card and have it in my portfolio, the taxpayer part is just angry at yet another example of money spent needlessly.