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Hallmark Introduces a Sign of Youth

Hallmark Channel is trying to bring a little more youth to its image with a brand-refreshing campaign that will hit the channel March 1.

The campaign re-emphasizes the network’s core values: hearth, home, connection and emotions, but with a level of quirkiness, executives said.

The goal is to move the channel’s audience from viewers in their 50s to viewers in their 40s.

“I think if you can do that in a reasonably subtle way, that also brings a sense that this is not your grandmother’s Hallmark Channel, perhaps your mother’s channel and perhaps your older sister’s channel; if we can do that in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, I think that’s great,” CEO Henry Schleiff said.

The network’s branding, including the look of its Web site, hasn’t been refreshed since 2001, noted senior vice president of creative services Marvin Dorson. The campaign, with its new tagline, “Make Yourself at Home,” has been in development internally for several months, he said. Executives have made use of consumer focus groups and other research sources to determine how viewers perceive Hallmark Channel.

The data showed no negatives: Viewers are confident the content they find on the channel reflects adult storytelling without excessive sex and violence, Dorson said. While they find the channel “positive, uplifting,” the branding campaign will reinforce that feeling in a way that’s “inspirational, invitational and interpretive,” Dorson said.

The spots are similar graphically and in their use of colors, each beginning with, “H is for…” As an example of a more youthful way of portraying the channel with a wink toward popular culture, one spot states “H is for Hip-Hop.” But in this case, that phrase is illustrated by a young girl skipping down the street in the rain. Other “H’s” are home, holidays, happy hour or hot dog.

The 10-, 20- and 30-second interstitial spots also include new original music crafted by the creative services team in coordination with agency Spark.

The network is spending between $5 and $10 million on the campaign, said Schleiff, including development and production costs and the value of the airtime devoted to the campaign.

The images “all kind of shout Hallmark, a Hallmark moment. Pictures of kids playing, dogs in leaves, homes, the holidays, humor,” said Schleiff.

Dorson said the channel has created an extensive library of images that will roll out throughout the coming year, including seasonal elements.

Tom Steinert-Threlkeld contributed to this report.