The English movie channel market in India, which is dominated by the two large players - HBO and Star Movies is all set to see some more action this year. Hallmark, the Crown Media promoted channel is getting aggressive with its plans to lure audience to its channel.
The strategy includes a combination of airing original movies made by the channel based on real life stories and award winning series. First of the block The Guardian, which became an instant hit in US is being tried out in India. A Tristar Production, The Guardian is a story about a young and rich man who gets sentenced to community service, as the result of drug conviction, to represent abused, neglected and at risk kids in court. Hallmark is quite optimistic about the success of this heart crunching and emotional series of The Guardian. But, would this 22-week sop do the needful for
Hallmark is a question mark at present.
With the launch of The Guardian, Hallmark is competing with movie channels and other English channels like Star World, and Zee English. In this already cluttered and fragmented market are advertiser keen to be associated with a series, which is a legal sop, and whether there is enough audience to watch the program.
Says a senoir media industry source, "It’s always tough to bring an advertiser to advertise on a niche channel and it becomes more tougher to have advertisers for a new serial launch. Many times it happens that there are no sponsors in the beginning but as the series gets started the advertisers will also flow in."
With the launch of The Guardian, Hallmark channel has tried to target a broad family audience. Says Laxmi Hariharan, Marketing Director, Asia, Hallmark Channels, "By this launch we have tried to cover a broader spectrum of family audience which fall in the age group of 18 to 54 yrs". After the success in US, Hallmark is highly optimistic about its success in India. Says Laxmi, " We expect the unusual storyline of a man who gives up his high flying wall street job to fight for the cause of kids to capture the hearts and minds of the viewers. Simon Baker was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for his role as the Guardian. The series is brand new and has done extremely well when it premiered in the United States. We expect it to bring it a wider audience of viewers to the channel."
For the promotion of The Guardian, Hallmark hasn't experimented an unconventional advertising plan but has used the traditional method of using TV, print, radio and outdoor. In radio Win 94.6 for Mumbai, AIR FM for Delhi and Radio City for Bangalore have been used.
Outdoors in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai are also used for promoting the series. Apart from using the traditional approach, Laxmi feels that their Communication strategy is key driver for the show, which will attract audience from various walks of life. Laxmi says, " Communication strategy is centered around the fact that this is a series where the 'Client is always innocent'. That really does sum up the series very neatly. The marketing plan starts off with outdoor and trade website presence, then leads into radio and strategic print advertising. We are also finalising plans for a viewer-centric contest."
Hallmark has also lined up more series towards the end of this year which officials at the channel feel will give it the much needed boost in viewer ship and advertising presence.
As samay (time) looked over the Mahabharat (fight for justice and righteousness), time will also look at The Guardian (fight for justice) to predict whether it brings the buck home for Hallmark.