After ‘learning’ the ropes, Hallmark is getting serious. And it is putting money where the mouth is. Long-term arrangement with MediaScope for assisting in advertising sales, over $1mn of advertising and promotion money and ‘a broader product offering’ including Hollywood movies makes them ambitious. “To rank itself amongst India’s top entertainment channels.” The task, though, is stiff.
For a start, with close to 10 channels entrenched in English Movie/ Series segment, what would Hallmark’s positioning and value preposition be. Also, in a tight advertising market, will it generate enough advertising to justify the investments?
“Just look at the number of new product categories opening up every year. Insurance, Premium Cars and many more. Enough to sustain new and niche channels such as Hallmark!” says Rohinton Maloo, MD, MediaScope sharing his reason and optimism. Rohinton adds that ‘flexible’ approach to ad sales targeted at meeting client’s marketing objective will help further.
Hallmark today, with close to 80% original content- including made-for-TV movies, appeals to a small niche. The challenge really is to broad base the appeal and draw fresh audiences. “We will increase brand awareness in key cities through mass media campaigns,” says Laxmi Hariharan, Marketing Director, Hallmark Asia. Hallmark Channel has earmarked $1.2 mn for advertising and promotions. According to Hariharan, the channel is currently available in close to 9 million homes and has improved by 60% over the last quarter.
Along with this optimism and differentiated content, Hallmark would have to be innovative in selling airtime opportunities. “We intent to package not just on-air opportunities but significant on-ground strength of over 200 Hallmark Card stores that our parent company, in US, has in India,” agrees Maloo. These stores, says Maloo, can be used for demo and on-ground promotions. Citing Hallmark’s ownership of most content, he offers another interesting bait- ‘Virtual Product Placement.’ Used successfully by International marketers, this option would allow ‘placement’ of a product/brand within the storyline. So a pack of corn flakes that protagonist chomps could be from any cereal maker ready to pay a price!