Hallmark, Schleiff Push Family-Friendly Fare, New Look at Upfront Breakfast


Hallmark is continuing to push family-friendly programming this upfront season, upping its number of values-focused movies and touting proprietary research that shows viewers find more sex and violence on TV now than five years ago and look more favorably upon advertising in family-friendly shows. The network also introduced a fresh on-air look with a bold capital yellow "H" and the tagline "make yourself at home."

"There is quite simply an insatiable demand, especially across middle America and with Baby Boomers, for good, clean, compelling, well-told stories,"said network chief Henry Schleiff at an upfront breakfast for press at media watering hole Michael's this morning.

Schleiff has been at the network for six months, "the requisite usual time to change the name--and Court TV is available," he joked. Schleiff left Court for Hallmark after the former was acquired by Turner.

Running through growth numbers in the network's ratings and ad rates, he credited supply and demand and research showing Boomers an attractive demo to target for the network's success.

The "old beliefs with this demo are patently false," he said, saying advertisers should appeal "to those with assets, not allowances."

Hallmark plans 25 new original movies for the rest of 2007, more than they've ever premiered. Original movies drive Hallmark's ratings, averaging about a 2.3 rating on premiere runs, said programming chief Dave Kenin. Topics will stick to family values and holiday themes. Titles include Love's Unending Legacy, A Stranger's Heart, You've Got a Friend, and A Grandpa for Christmas. Themes include organ transplants, Alzheimer's and angels.

Hallmark, which Schleiff said will reach 80 million homes in April, unveiled its first ever "fully integrated" advertising package. Clients can now in one deal buy spots on TV, in Hallmark's 4,200 Gold Crown retail stores, in its print magazine and on its Website. Hallmark also pitched its "sponsorship solutions" opportunities to customize spots.

The new slogan is designed to be "invitational and inclusive," said Laura Masse, executive VP, marketing.

The old, she said, "was a little bit earnest, maybe a little bit dusty, maybe a little bit old."

Hallmark executives cited a study it commissioned by Yankelovich to drive home the value of family-friendly shows. A survey by the company found that 88% of TV viewers say there has been "a significant increase" in the number of TV shows with "sexual, violent, crude or obscene content over the last five years," and that 68% of parents think there are not enough shows for parents and kids to watch together.

Given its value-Hallmark also says it's number one in length of tune-the network is looking to sign 130 upfront deals, including 15-20 new clients and sell 45-50% of inventory during the upfront with the double digit CPM increases it has commanded during scatter, said ad sales chief Bill Abbott.

Schleiff ended the presentation by nodding to Boomer-targeting TV Land, which last week brought Bill Clinton to speak at its upfront show, by posing with a cardboard cutout of Hilary Clinton. Joking about his channel's comparatively small budget, he said he could better TV Land by offering press a photo op with "President Clinton."