Not just cubic zirconium

Home Shopping Network embarks on campaign to hype quality of merchandise

For the first time ever, the juggernaut Home Shopping Network will be cross-promoted on cable networks, including sister cable nets USA and Sci-Fi, in a multimedia campaign valued at $30 million, said Mark Bozek, president and chief executive officer of the network.

The blitz will begin in the third quarter of this year, when the network will officially become known as "HSN," he said.

Home Shopping is the cash cow behind USA Networks Inc. The dollars behind that statement: HSN raked in an average of $2,500 a minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 1999. Programming involves a host, a simple studio, a product and some phone lines, and costs less than $1,000 an hour. Its viewers are very loyal: Hosts get e-mail when they have bad-hair days.

For the new campaign, there will be no major overhauls other than the minor name change, Bozek said.

The marketing campaign is about bringing in new users (rather than viewers, because these people buy stuff on TV). Bozek wants people to know that HSN is no longer the cubic zirconium channel of old. Electronic equipment, much of it made exclusively for HSN by manufacturers like Sony or JVC, makes up the largest piece of the network' s business. Less than 1% is cubic zirconium. Bozek is particularly hot to get products exclusive to HSN, like Adrienne Arpel cosmetics.

A window of exclusivity can mean a cash avalanche. HSN made $6 million selling the video of Titanic three months before it came out in stores. Even without cross-promotion, HSN pulled in 127,000 new customers in January, the most in the network' s history.