Hallmark Channel, Affiliates Talk Turkey

11/14/2008 6:18 AM Eastern

Turkey for the holidays. 

An Old-Fashioned ThanksgivingThe fowl is certainly a traditional menu option, but Hallmark Channel is thinking more in terms of an exotic trip to the nation, and its main city of Istanbul.

In an effort to further promote its six original holiday movies this season, Hallmark Channel has teamed up with its local ad sales affiliates in the top 30 DMAs and is offering a six-day/five-night excursion to the third largest city in the world.

“Istanbul is an aspirational destination; it’s a trip of a lifetime,” said Rita Caprino, senior director of affiliate ad sales for Hallmark Channel. “Affiliate executives are hit with promos all the time, but this one really helped us cut through the clutter.”

The trip for two to Istanbul includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and some meals, plus guided tours to an array of historical and cultural venues.

Moonlight & MistletoeAt press time, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Cablevision, with systems reaching 18 million subscribers within the top 30 markets, have signed up to participate in the LAS program, whose promotional window extends from Nov. 16 through Dec. 27.

Over that span, Hallmark will premiere six original holiday films on Saturdays at 9 p.m.: An Old-Fashioned Thanskgiving, Nov. 22; Moonlight & Mistletoe, Nov. 29; The Christmas Choir, Dec. 6; The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Dec. 13; Our First Christmas, Dec. 20; and A Kiss at Midnight, Dec. 27.

Caprino said 11th-hour opportunities remain: “Even if they start a week late, with today’s trafficking and ad tagging, affiliates can still catch up.”

Within each participating market, affiliates have agreed to run 300 cross-channel spots in exchange for the Instanbul extravaganza. Caprino said there isn’t any stricture, relative to scheduling the spots, but the network’s analysis showed “the greater opportunity for us comes when they air during early fringe, primetime and late fringe.”

Hallmark has created the :30s, the last five seconds of which can be tagged by the local affiliate. The game plan calls for the operators to rotate specific tune-in spots for a pair of Hallmark’s original telefilms this holiday season, with a third promo reflecting the network’s umbrella marketing campaign, “Home for the Holidays,” and its message that the network presents a holiday-themed movie every night at 9 p.m.

As part of those “complementary messages,” the family-friendly network is deploying a multi-pronged marketing campaign, including consumer sweepstakes and a first-time presence in Wal-Mart Stores. All told, the various marketing and media outlays will total some $15 million.

After speaking to officials at both at the corporate level and in the field, Hallmark Channel decided to afford affiliates flexibility when it comes to the LAS prizing.

“It’s open to the different business needs of the operators in each market. It can be used as a reward for the top client in a market, or as an incentive for competition among AEs [account executives],” Caprino said. “Or they can decide to let a client use it as a sweepstakes to help drive traffic to their stores. At this point, the economy is not smiling too kindly on anybody.”

In addition to the travel accommodations, the trip recipients will go on private guided tours of a number of Istanbul locales, including: the Topkapi Palace; the Blue Mosque; the famous Hagia Sophia colossal domed basilica; the Grand Covered Bazaar, containing 3,500 shops under one roof; the Istanbul Modern Museum of Art; the Museum of Turkish Arts; the Byzantine city walls, constructed between 413-447 by Emperor Theodosius II to defeat Attila, the Hun; the 6th Century Underground Cistern; the Hippodrome; the fishing village of Sariyer, where the Black Sea merges with the Marmara Sea; and the Dolmabahce Palace.

Last year, Hallmark’s LAS holiday initiative featured trips to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and St. John, Virgin Islands.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!