amusing marketing and PR web 2.0

52 card MOO – Part 1: The Challenge

I’ve known MOO for 6 years (back when they were PleasureCards), and I’ve been using them as my primary business / personal cards for most of that time.

Back when they only did the PleasureCard form-factor, it was always fun to find a fellow MOO customer. Shared conversations were easy with strangers, usually over the great reactions we get from non-MOO users.

Ever since they first integrated with flickr, one concept has come up again and again in those conversations:

“What about a custom 52-card deck made using”

Rounded Corners…

MOO just introduced a new option on their cards – Rounded Corners. This is a trivial thing.

…unless, like me, you still want to do that 52-card playing deck. Now much easier!

Also, they recently upgraded their Flash uploader / composer software, and seem to have fixed most of the bugs that plagued the last version I used, back in 2010.

What do we need to make this work?

The Spec

To make a deck of playing cards, we need:

  1. At least 52 unique cards, ideally 54-58 (2-4 jokers, plus 2 blanks in case a card gets damaged)
  2. All cards have an identical back
  3. All cards have a unique front (except for the blanks, which share the same empty image)

Also, to make this more than just a vanity project, it would be great if we could also have:

  1. The “identical back” has some (subtle) text – maybe just the URL of the author/company, plus their twitter handle

MOO’s current features

  1. 52-58 unique cards: FAIL: they do a “maximum” of 50
  2. identical back, full-sized image: SUCCESS (it’s a new option: full-image instead of contact details)
  3. unique front: SUCCESS (this is MOO’s raison d’etre)
  5. TEXT on the identical back: FAIL: their flash uploader won’t let you (“Computer says No”)

So, I sent an email to MOO support, outlining the above, and making some suggestions about how I could make this work – but asking if there’s an easier way?

My plan (in brief):

  1. Online, it says a “max” of 50 cards. That’s probably not a hard limit – is there a way I could get 60, if e.g. I do a large enough order size? You guys do orders in multiples of 50, 100, 150, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000. I could do 60 cards (only a slight wastage over the 58), and make my orders in multiples of 600. i.e. 10 complete sets.
  2. There seems no reason to prevent me putting an image and text on the identical back – it’s just that your loader won’t allow it. Any way around this? I could bake the text in, but then it would be a massive pain to change – I would do fewer print runs. Support FAIL

I reached out to MOO, explained how I could achieve this with manual pain, working around the missing features. Also, asking if they had better ideas of how to do it – or if there was a way around the 50-card-limit?

MOO’s response:

Thank you for getting in touch with the MOO Team.

You can have multiple images on one side of the cards in a pack, you can’t specify how many of each but the systems will divide the designs as equally as possible.

The other side must remain exactly the same for every card in the pack.

You can upload a logo to the left right top or bottom of the side of the cards with the text on (contact info etc).

basically, if you were to upload 52 different designs (cards) and 2 jokes, your total uploads to a pack of 100 would be 54. The remaining 46 would be repeats of the first 46 to be uploaded.

I hope the above makes sense.

Some observations:

  1. I’ve bought literally thousands of MOO cards over the years, and I know very well how it works. I didn’t need a re-hash of the facts I’d already included in my original email! I’m surprised he didn’t see from my account how many cards I’ve ordered in the past
  2. He’s simply wrong about the logos; go on the website right now, and you’ll find that you can put a full screen image on both sides of the card.
  3. No real answer about my core request. Is it impossible to do 60 cards instead of 50? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?

Understandable, but overall I’m disappointed by that response.

I’m doubly disappointed that MOO featured the following on their website, 2 years ago:

…but apparently isn’t interested in other people doing this for themselves.

What now?

I can still do this, it’s just going to be a LOT harder (I’ll have to do lots of things manually that MOO could automate easily). I’ll document it as I go, it’s a fun challenge. Part 2, coming soon…

2 replies on “52 card MOO – Part 1: The Challenge”

The text on the back would be part of the image, right? Solved.

Order more than one deck at a time, which makes the resulting amount of cards you’re ordering closer to being divisible by an amount you can order. Like, add a couple rule cards for 60 cards total, order three decks, you only lose 20 cards. Irritating, but better than losing 40 cards if you order just one deck, and improves the used/lost ratio significantly.

One big reason print houses have to enforce certain numbers in orders is simply due to the fact that they have to print stuff a sheet at a time, and presumably MOO does sheets of 50 cards each. Implementing logistics that combines multiple orders to one sheet would improve the costs due to increased manual labor, so it’s probably not worth it for the company.

1. From my experience of printers and print machines, 50 seems a very unlikely number.

More importantly, I used to see Richard Moross (moo CEO) regularly, and he often boasted about the limitless capabilities of their tech architecture – that they had cast off the artificial constraints of old-style printers.

Ie a fully digital end to end process.

So … I simply don’t believe that 50 is anything more than a convent marketing number

2. Baking-in the text works, but …

I. You lose moo’s good font management – I can certainly place a font badly, and choose a bad font, given half a chance
Ii. You cannot do a new print run for eg a new employee without having a full copy of photoshop to hand. Compare this with current situation, where I can compose + order a new set of moo cards on my (android) phone!

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