Holiday Cheer for Hallmark

Aug 8, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Several major advertisers-including Masterfoods, Sears, Campbell’s and Nestle- did holiday shopping at Hallmark Channel during the upfront.

The network, which teams with Hallmark Crown greeting card stores for major promotions around the holidays, signed the sponsors for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas season programming, said Bill Abbott, executive VP of ad sales for Hallmark Channel.

The deals helped Hallmark Channel increase its revenue during what was for many cable networks a tough upfront. “We were pleased from a volume point of view,” Mr. Abbott said, with upfront revenues registering a double-digit gain.

But he said it was hard to get large increases in costs per thousand despite the network’s strides in ratings and distribution. Rates were up 4 percent to 5 percent, a little above the overall market. The network had expected to get bigger increases. “Our bases are so low we’d hoped to gain more than a couple of points,” he said.

Masterfoods has agreed to be a sponsor of an in-store promotion by the network during Halloween. The candy maker will also sponsor the network’s two-hour mystery romance “Coronado,” which will air at the end of October.

Sears will be the title sponsor of a Thanksgiving weekend rebroadcast of the network’s 2003 movie “A Time to Remember,” which stars Doris Roberts. With Sears as a sponsor, the movie will run with limited commercial interruptions.

Campbell’s has agreed to be the title sponsor of another of Hallmark’s holiday season original movies, “The Reading Room,” starring James Earl Jones as a teacher who returns to his inner-city roots and opens a bookstore. That movie will run with limited commercial interruptions as well.

Nestle will return as one of the sponsors of the major Christmas holiday promotion the network will do with the Hallmark Crown stores. Those promotions usually involve a sweepstakes, in-store advertising and online marketing. Mr. Abbott said he was in conversations with another client about involvement in the cross-platform yuletide promotion.

In July Hallmark Channel finished among the top 10 cable networks in prime time household ratings for the first time with a 1.1 rating, up 10 percent from last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. The network got a boost from original movies “The Colt” and “Back to You and Me.”

In total day, the network has been a top 10 network among households for nine straight months. In July its total day ratings rose 17 percent to a 0.7, and household delivery hit a record 506,000 homes.