Hallmark Crowns Channel's Rebranding Plan

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One of the most widely recognized consumer brand names will soon make its way to cable's channel line-up.

Crown Media Holdings Inc. plans to run its first on-air spots for the newly named Hallmark Channel next weekend, about two weeks before its official rebranding on Aug. 5. The programmer plans to spend $15 million to $20 million to promote the new moniker, excluding its own air time.

Hallmark Channel will buy heavy helpings of network and spot cable, along with network and spot radio time.

The off-air media campaign also includes ads in August consumer magazines, including Oprah Winfrey's O Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, InStyle, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly
and Us Weekly. Crown Media executive vice president of worldwide marketing Chris Moseley said the network would target adults 18 to 54, with a 60 percent female skew.

Hallmark Cards Inc.'s signature gold crown is likely to be prominent in the new ads.

"It has so much equity, we'd be crazy not to use it," Moseley said.

But there will be no mention of the network's current moniker, Odyssey Network.

"When you rebrand from a different brand, you don't want to spend time on what it used to be," said Moseley.

Though many programmers must spend years creating network brand recognition — whether they're launching a new service or a spin-off, or rebranding an existing outlet — Hallmark Channel won't have to explain its name. When unaided, 80 percent of Americans are familiar with the Hallmark brand, according to Moseley. When aided, that level moves close to 100 percent.

To help market itself — and its cable affiliates — the network will use its ties to Hallmark Gold Crown Stores in cross-promotions. Hallmark Channel has already started to plan next year's Father's Day campaign, in which the channel's programming will be promoted both in the card stores and through links on both parties' respective Web sites (hallmark.com and hallmarkchannel.com).

Future cross-branding efforts could take advantage of the 13 million Gold Crown Stores cardholders, Moseley said.

FOLLOWS 100 OTHERS

While Hallmark Channel is new to the U.S., it's No. 101 on the list of Hallmark Channels distributed across the globe. The network is translated into 27 languages worldwide.

Aside from the rebranding ads, the first Hallmark Channel on-air spots will be tune-in ads for the miniseries The Infinite World of H.G. Wells, which airs during premiere week.

The Hallmark Channel campaign "is probably the most challenging launch I've worked on," said Moseley, a former Discovery Networks U.S. marketing guru. "It's very complex."The Hallmark brand has many strong attributes, which gives the launch a push, said Moseley. But she also wants to make sure the channel has a chance "to stand on its own two feet" and create its own brand identity.

"Consumers don't pay as much attention to all this activity as we do," Moseley said. "The key is to be as clear and simple as you can with the one thing you want the viewer to remember" — that the Hallmark Channel launches Aug. 5.

But Moseley wants cable viewers to do more than just remember the Hallmark Channel name.

"We want to be in the seven or eight channels that people flip between all the time," she said.

According to research, the new network could appeal to adults who want to share television-viewing time with their children.

"There's an unmet need in the cable environment that the Hallmark Channel could address," Moseley said.

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