Hallmark Puts Muscle Behind Movies

Following up on a holiday blitz, Hallmark Channel will support a trio of original “mystery movie” franchises that debut on Sunday nights in January with a $5 million national integrated marketing campaign.

There will be TV, radio, print and online backing for films bearing the McBride (starring John Larroquette), Jane Doe (Lea Thompson) and Mystery Woman (Kellie Martin) monikers that will premiere on Jan. 9, 16 and 23, respectively, said Hallmark Channel executive vice president and chief marketing officer Chris Moseley.

The campaign, trumpeting four movies for each franchise, includes a sweepstakes component in which viewers can obtain clues prior to the weekly movie premiere from on-air promotional elements, opt-in e-mail messages and through virtual online environments.


During the telepics, viewers can call a toll-free number to solve the mystery plotline before it is resolved by film’s end.

A correct guess earns the participant a chance to win $10,000 in cash.

Moseley said Hallmark aims to maintain the strong viewer momentum it expects from its five-week holiday programming lineup, highlighted by original films, A Boyfriend for Christmas and Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, among them.

Valued at some $7 million, a promotion encompassing on-air and on-premise elements at 4,200 Hallmark Gold Crown Stores around the country, will reprise last year’s “Hollywood Holiday Sweepstakes,” in which the grand prize winner gets a part in a network film.

Customized promotional materials highlighting the sweepstakes and the participation of Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Adelphia Communications Corp., Mediacom Communications Corp. and Cablevision Systems Corp., representing more than 46 million subscribers, will be displayed at the stores and operator service centers.

Hallmark officials said cable affiliates plan to tout a variety of services, including digital cable, on-demand programs, high-speed Internet and telephony.

Separately, Hallmark said it had reached a deal to provide content to Comcast’s video-on-demand service, beginning in early 2005.


On the distribution front, Hallmark has added 8.2 million basic customers this year, lifting its base to some 64.5 million. That’s double its count from the relaunch of the former Odyssey Network in August 2001.

Janice Arouh, senior vice president of network distribution and service, said she expects Hallmark Movie Channel to make its debut sometime in the first quarter of 2005.

The channel, which combines Hallmark Channel films, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies and some third-party product, was tested in “a couple of cable systems this past summer.”

Discussions are centering on positioning the service on digital family, entertainment or movie tiers, Arouh said.