Hallmark Taps Movie Sponsorships

In an effort to provide greater value to advertisers, Hallmark Channel said it will offer advertising sponsorships with limited commercial time for two of its upcoming movies.

Kraft Foods Inc. will exclusively sponsor Hallmark’s June 13 and 14 presentation of The Parent Trap,while Schering-Plough HealthCare Products Inc.’s "Claritin" will sponsor the network’s April original movie, The Long Shot.

Each of the airings will contain only eight total minutes of advertising -- four per hour -- with one minute going to cable affiliates for local sales, according to Hallmark parent Crown Media Holdings Inc. executive vice president of advertising sales Bill Abbott.

The sponsor’s name will be named in all movie promos on the network.

Abbot said the "entitlements" help to alleviate advertiser concerns about the proliferation of commercial-skipping devices such as personal video recorders, as well as overall commercial clutter.

He added that the network is talking with advertisers about product integration and product placement within its original and acquired product.

"This is a win on all levels: It will drive our ratings higher by having less commercial content and fewer commercial breaks," he said. "It’s a win for the advertiser because it spotlights their message."

The sponsorship efforts are part of Hallmark’s desire to post a 75% increase in ad revenue, according to Abbott

On the programming side, in 2005, the network will roll out 16 mystery-themed original movies to anchor its Sunday-night lineup of acquired mystery series and movies, executive VP of programming David Kenin said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.