Hallmark Steps Up Its 'Holiday' Spend


This holiday season Hallmark Channel wants to bring all its marketing muscle home.

The family friendly network, under the tagline “Home for the Holidays,” is deploying a multipronged marketing campaign, including consumer sweepstakes and a first-time presence in Wal-Mart Stores.

All told, the marketing and media outlays will total some $15 million, executive vice president of marketing Laura Masse said.

The effort, backing Hallmark's expanded holiday-season programming lineup — highlighted by six original telefilms debuting on Saturday nights — matches the support level the service placed behind its 2006 holiday programming push, which was keyed by the world TV premiere of the Academy Award-winning documentary March of the Penguins.

“We're a welcoming and comfortable destination for viewers, who know they can come to Hallmark for great holiday programming, not only with our originals, but our daily, month-long schedule,” Masse said. The programming stunt begins Nov. 22 and runs through Dec. 27.

“Home for the Holidays is something we want to build equity in year after year,” she added.

This year's multimillion-dollar initiative, featuring sweepstakes and tune-in elements, will manifest via Hallmark properties, both on-air and online, as well as at 4,000 Hallmark Gold Crown Stores.

Through Dec. 24, customers will receive appreciation packs, featuring tune-in information, customized messages from the network's local distribution partner and coupons for up to $50 in savings on specific holiday merchandise.

The brochure that will be disseminated at the stores gives the distributor — Hallmark has reached deals for systems covering 46 million homes — a position to tout one of their products or services.

Masse said Hallmark has also produced materials that distributors — which must run cross-channel, tune-in spots to participate — can use to develop attendant radio, print, TV, online and bill-stuffer promos.

Affiliates are also involved with the “Holiday Homecoming Sweepstakes” — a national watch-and-win (an 800-number will appear during the original movies directing viewers to a microsite that launches Nov. 22) and shop-and-win (swipes of Gold Crown loyalty cards automatically registers customers) — awarding four grand prizes.

The winners will receive $25,000 cash to help transport and host a homecoming party for up to 20 family members.

Hallmark Channel is also putting the final touches on a separate local ad sales promotion designed to support affiliates' efforts this holiday season.

In addition to expanded media buys on national radio and cable, and print, with such titles as People, Us Weekly and TV Guide, the “Home for the Holidays” thrust marks Hallmark's initial schedule on TVs within Wal-Marts around the country. Masse said Hallmark will be part of looped content/promos that will run on the retailer's in-store network of monitors and checkstands at over 600 outlets.

Pleased with the medium's performance last year, Hallmark Channel will also run 15-second tune-in spots on digital kiosks in 105 malls nationwide.

Hallmark, now a perennial top 10 cable network in household ratings, receives a boost during the holiday season: its four original movies during that span last year averaged a 3.0 household rating and 3.6 million viewers for their premieres.

This year's Saturday night lineup from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, starring Jacqueline Bisset, Nov. 22; Moonlight & Mistletoe, Tom Arnold and Candace Cameron-Bure, Nov. 29; The Christmas Choir, Jason Gedrick and Rhea Perlman, Dec. 5; The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Henry Winkler and Brooke Burns, Dec. 12; Our First Christmas, Dixie Carter and John Ratzenberger, Dec. 20; and A Kiss at Midnight, Faith Ford, Dyan Cannon and Hal Linden, Dec. 27.