Television

Hallmark aims to expand reach, outlines marketing strategy

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Consolidate distribution, increase reach and brand visibility through aggressive marketing. That is the target that general entertainment English channel Hallmark has set for itself in India this calendar year.

We will increase brand awareness in the key cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Calcutta through mass media campaigns, says Laxmi Hariharan, marketing director, Hallmark Asia. A media mix of outdoors, cinema, websites, radio, and print are the off-television promotional activities that are involved.

The channel's initiatives are already having an impact and this can be seen in the fact that the cumulative reach of the channel has increased by 60 per cent since January, says Hariharan.

Hariharan says the channel is adopting a two-tier strategy by promoting the mother brand and creating event-specific programmes. Towards this end, Hallmark has earmarked $1.2 million this year for advertising and promotions.

The channel's initiatives are already having an impact and this can be seen in the fact that the cumulative reach of the channel has increased by 60 per cent since January, says Hariharan.

Hariharan says the channel is adopting a two-tier strategy by promoting the mother brand and creating event-specific programmes. Towards this end, Hallmark has earmarked $1.2 million this year for advertising and promotions.

On the programming front, the channel has a three point plan that it is confident will deliver the desired results - original series, television movies and Hollywood blockbuster titles.

Distribution is another area where Hallmark hopes to increase its numbers. From the current 9 million across 18 cities, the channel expects to hit 12 million by the end of the year, Hallmark India general manager Amitabh says. Queried as to the kind of subscription revenues the channel had, Amitabh said last year it was $500,000 and he expected it to reach $ 600,000 this year.

Leading the way for Hallmark on the ad sales front is Mediascope Associates. According to Rohinton Maloo, managing director, Mediascope, revenues close to $1 million is what he is targeting. This is a five-fold jump from last year where the channel raked in just $ 200,000. Queried as to how he could so confidently state this would happen when the fight for a share of the ad pie was becoming increasingly stressful, Maloo says ad revenues of $ 200,000 had been achieved with practically no worthwhile effort. A focussed strategy would bring in increased much more ad revenue, is Maloo's contention.

And there are new product categories opening up every year - insurance, premium cars, technology and many more. There is enough to sustain niche channels such as Hallmark, says Maloo.

The channel intends to package not just on-air opportunities but the significant on-ground strength of over 430 Hallmark Card stores in India, says Maloo. These stores, says Maloo, can be used for demo and on-ground promotions.

One unique feature that Hallmark can offer to advertisers thanks to its ownership of 80 per cent of the content that appears on the channel is "virtual product placement", says Maloo. This means that after a particular movie or series has already been shot, the advertiser is offered an option where he can digitally insert his product during relevant scenes. He cited examples of Samsung in Latin America, Visa card in the US and Coke in the Asia Pacific.

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