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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2002

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Hallmark looks to improve ratings

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Ms Laxmi Hariharan, Marketing Director -- Asia, Hallmark Channel.

CHENNAI, March 12

HALLMARK Channel, which has returned to the Chennai small screen since February, intends to increase brand awareness in the city and other metros through a media mix of outdoor, cinema, Web sites, radio and print.

The channel aims to improve its ratings by 50 per cent, according to Ms Laxmi Hariharan, Marketing Director (Asia), Crown Media International (HK) Ltd, a part of Crown Media Holdings Inc., which owns the channel.

The pay channel will also focus on advertising as a revenue stream, according to Mr Rohinton Maloo, Director, MediaScope Associates, which handles the marketing for the channel. He added that `virtual ad placement' was an innovation that the channel hoped to leverage in this regard. This would involve brands relevant to India being placed in the movie as it was being screened and did away with the necessity of their being woven into the story during its filming. Since most of the movies telecast on Hallmark are owned by the channel, there was no need to seek permission from the film maker, Mr Maloo said.

Internationally, Hallmark has worked with Coke, Samsung and Visa for this kind of advertising. In India too, it would work with global brands and is already negotiating with a few.

The companies advertising on Hallmark now include Hindustan Lever Ltd, Nestle, Britannia, Microsoft, Samsung, Ford, Fiat and Madura Garments. Mr Maloo said, "The channel would be proactive in pre-empting advertisers' needs and providing tailor-made communication solutions."

According to Ms Hariharan, Hallmark telecast all genre of movies but had a special following among women as it was a family-focused channel which offered movies that emphasised on the story, series, mini-series and children's programmes. While 60 per cent of its programming is acquired, Hallmark Entertainment, Inc., the parent company, commissions the rest. It has seven feeds in the Asia-Pacific region and some programmes are dubbed in Mandarin and Hindi.

The channel claims to reach nine million homes in the country's metros and mini-metros, including 6.5 lakh homes in Chennai.

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