Hallmark Channel is set to strengthen its marketing initiatives for the region, according to Ms Laxmi Hariharan, Associate Director, Marketing (Asia Pacific). The goal is two-fold: Building awareness about the channel and strengthening the distribution network, she said. The central idea is to stretch the brand identity that one associates with the top card company—Hallmark Cards—to the channel.
The marketing initiative, which will come into effect from May 1, will include fresh programmes for children and the youth. Although the core programming will consist of its landmark exclusive movies for the channel, there will be new slots from the next month onwards. Then there will be festival and occasion-based programmes at regular intervals on the channel—In May, it’s going to be a week-long celebration of Women’s Day and June will see the channel turn its attention to Father’s Day. Coinciding with the new genre of programmes will be some marketing initiatives, according to Ms Hariharan.
While keeping the marketing initiatives a secret, there would be on-ground, television and online promos related to the new programmes. During the celebration of the Mother’s Day week, Hallmark will organise events at some prominent theatres in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore. Hallmark stores will also be roped in for the promotional activity. Apart from TV campaigns, promos will be aired on FM radio also, said Ms Hariharan. Plus, there would be roadshows and contests.
Although a similar marketing initiative, the first by the channel, was undertaken at the time of Valentine’s Day, from now on it’s going to be more focussed, wide-spread and at regular intervals. Also, the element of fun-filled surprise is going to be one big thing about the channel’s marketing initiative. Recently, for example, Hallmark tried a marketing stunt at a small level. For the launch of ‘Monkey King’, the channel sent bananas as direct mailers, and then had a monkey and a madari at its roadshow.
The new marketing and programming initiatives are a result of an eight-month survey conducted by a New York-based firm, Lubin Lawrence, with help from ORG-MARG and Leo Burnett. The research, which was conducted in five countries including India, involved TV viewers, advertisers and cable operators. The objective was to find out what viewers wanted to see in the channel. Lubin Lawrence, which directed the research, had earlier been associated with brands such as Frito Lay and Visa.
The research survey technique used for the channel is unique, said Ms Hariharan, as it’s based on the principle that the world over people have universal values and emotions. That is, friends and family; love and relationships are the uppermost in the minds of the people all around the world. ‘‘Hallmark wanted to find out the values that it should mirror with reference to its brand through this research,’’ said Ms Hariharan.
Illustrating that the universal value-based system works, she said that the research had an item whereby people had to select some pictures out of a set of 100. All over the world, she said, people chose pictures which represented positive feelings and happiness. The two striking examples were the pictures of five people holding hands and walking together and a middle-aged couple doing a tango! With those two pictures in mind, Hallmark is on its way to strike a chord with the viewers.