'Virtual Agency' Creates Hallmark Campaigns


Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Gold Crown Stores have enlisted a so-called "virtual agency" to develop integrated marketing campaigns for the Christmas-holiday season — and beyond.

The agency actually is a consortium of seven agencies involved in branding, design and media, according to Hallmark Channel executive vice president of worldwide marketing and brand strategy Chris Moseley.

Besides working together on the current "Hallmark Keepsakes Sweepstakes" promotion, Moseley said the shops will be working together on similar holiday efforts throughout 2003. The yuletide consumer campaign alone is valued at $10 million, and ties in a series of holiday-themed programming, including Santa Jr., Snow Queen, Silent Night, A Christmas Visitor
and Christmas with Tony Bennett — Behind the Scenes.

"Because this program taps into so many areas — television, print, the Web, retail stores, our network, our advertisers and our affiliates — we took a non-traditional approach to the marketing as well," she said. "Instead of reaching out for a traditional agency, we created a 'virtual' one."

The cable network's spots show slices of life, with families bringing home a Christmas tree, wrapping gifts and decorating the house with lights. The retail chain's animated spots feature Santa Claus, a reindeer and a snowman. In one, a shark appears from an ice hole and swallows the reindeer. Later, a shark fin that scares Santa away turns out to be the reindeer's antler.

Moseley said the participating agencies are: Concept One Communications, Westport, Conn., the lead agency that developed the yule sweepstakes concept; Funny Garbage, New York; PMcD Design, New York, which created the network's graphics package; Primal Screen, Atlanta, which produced the Gold Crown spots; TAG, Los Angeles branding firm which handled the print phase; and Unconventional Wisdom, Southport, Conn., which created theme lines for each event.

Interpublic Group's Initiative Media North America, Los Angeles, executed the current six-week sweepstakes media strategy.