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Hallmark Channel LaunchesNew BrandingCampaign

H is for Hip Hop says Hallmark Channel in a new on-air branding spot. Another H is for Happy Hour. Is the family-friendly network changing its branding? Well, yes and no.

On March 1 Hallmark is unveiling the new "Make Yourself at Home campaign," including that new tagline, new music, graphics, and even a new theme color--yellow--playing off the gold of the Hallmark Crown.

But the hip hop in Hallmark's world is a puddle-jumping kid , and the happy hour not about half-priced drinks but about people getting together for some boozel-less quality time. The campaign features 10, 20, and 30-second spots featuring a series of H-related "Hallmark moments," a black lab playing hide-and-seek in a pile of fall leavesor providing an unexpected smooch hello from a golden retriever.

With Hallmark pushing its family-friendliness in Washington as a respite from the sort of edgy content--CNN aired a special last week, Hip-Hop: Art or Poison--that has the FCC's knickers in a twist, is the campaign meant to drive that point home more directly?

Marvin Dorson, senior VP, creative services, for the channel says no. "There is no agenda," he says, beyond using a sometimes "counterintuitive" take on familiar phrases to emphasize the "warmth of home and holidays," as well as to take a more "fresh and conteporary" approach to court a younger demo. The music will include a new "signature" theme, says Dorson, which the channel has not had.

The on-air spots will be tagged to seasonal themes, fall leaves, snow, spring frolicks. The campaign is also a transition from static graphics to more live-action spots.

Dorson said the campaign went through extensive focus group testing and responds to the message that the channel helps people "feel connected," and "at home."

It is the first major branding campaign revamp since the channel launched in 2001.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.