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Master Marketer

Chris Moseley's career path as a master marketer began in-auspiciously enough when a neighbor, Baltimore TV sports anchor Vince Bagli, told her about a job.

Back then Moseley — now executive vice president of worldwide marketing and brand strategy for Crown Media Holdings Inc., parent of the Hallmark Channel — was fresh out of college. She had always planned to be an attorney, like her father. But after graduating, and even being accepted at law school, Moseley decided being a member of the bar wasn't for her.

She was at home, washing her parents' car, when neighbor Bagli stopped by and said, "I understand you broke your father's heart," referring to her abandoned law-school plans. He then asked Moseley if she would be interested in a job as secretary for the news department of NBC affiliate WBAL, the station he worked for. She took it, and climbed up the ranks as a publicist and then a writer/producer.

Moseley went on to take promotion and production jobs at a variety of TV stations, from Connecticut to Miami to New York City, picking up a local Emmy during her travels. She then moved on to work at several ad agencies, first Muller Jordan Weiss and later Earle Palmer Brown. In 1989, she secured a post at a start-up cable network that she helped turned into an internationally known and respected brand: Discovery Channel.

"It was lucky I was washing my dad's car that day," Moseley said, referring to the job tip-off from Bagli. "It's all kind of kismet."

Moseley claims the task ahead of her for the Hallmark Channel, formerly the Odyssey network, is easier than her job at Discovery Communications Inc. during its early days. After all, she is working with a well-known name, Hallmark.

"Hallmark as a brand is implicit in that it stands for quality, family friendly and entertaining," she said. "The brand essence is also great stories that stick with you. It's like HBO on basic cable."

During her 10-year tenure at DCI — which Moseley left in 1999 as senior vice president of marketing — she was involved in the launch of a dozen brands, not only Discovery Channel but also other services such as TLC and Animal Planet.

According to Moseley, the two components to building Discovery's brand were simplifying its core message and making the actual advertising less slick and more down to earth. When she came on board, the channel was billing itself as the home of "nature, science, history, travel, people and places" — basically a laundry list of its programming genres. She boiled that down to "exploration," and it worked.

Moseley also enjoyed success through her cable and retail cross-promotions, which involved the Discovery Channel Stores — the chain she helped launch. Moseley said she has similar plans in mind for Hallmark, creating tie-ins between the channel and the 4,800 Hallmark Gold Crown stores in the United States.

Before joining Crown Media in 2000, Moseley had served as executive vice president of ABC Network Marketing, where she created the first centralized marketing department for the Big Four giant. But in the broadcast world — ABC and the rest of the Big Four — Moseley said the job isn't really brand positioning, the way it is for cable.

Hallmark Channel, in addition to developing a consistent global brand, is in the process of trying to build its distribution and its ratings. It has seen a nice growth spurt since it took on its new moniker and abandoned the confusing Odyssey name.

The network ended last year with roughly 42 million subscribers, with a goal of reaching 50 million by end of this year.

"The whole business flows from the distribution," Moseley said. "It's much more top down now, it's much more consolidated."

Hallmark Channel's ratings rose following its name change, and the network ended last year with a 0.4 primetime rating, up 33 percent from its 0.3 in 2000, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"Growing the ratings is key to us," Moseley said. "That's a global agenda item, as well. Our challenge is awareness, getting into people's viewing set, the eight to 10 channels they flip between even if they don't know what's on."

Moseley maintained consumer research shows that the channel is already perceived not as mere family fare, but as a brand that offers "good stories that stay with you."

Added Moseley: "Family friendly is not the key driver. Consumers watching the channel are very clear of what the channel is standing for. Hallmark as a brand, wherever it appears, is just implicit that it stands for quality family friendly and entertaining. The whole brand essence is the idea of great stories that stay with you, stories that move you. That is the way people are seeing the channel."

The next step is for the standalone cable network to develop marquee shows and convince more viewers to sample it.

"It's basically breaking through with the programming and letting people know what we've got on and getting them to check us out," Moseley said. "We don't have the best channel position everywhere we are. So the big thing in 2002 is to get people to look for us."

This month, for example, Hallmark Channel has a big stunt underway for its 25th anniversary presentation of the miniseries Roots. Moseley's also looking to develop an equity-building, cause-related marketing campaign, similar to what Lifetime Television has done with breast-cancer awareness.

And despite facing a very competitive environment, Moseley is upbeat.

"The Hallmark Channel has the benefit of this 800-pound gorilla much-beloved brand," Moseley said. "We just have a leg up."