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HSN Stages Mega Marketing Event with “Eat Pray Love”: Q&A

By Jul 08, 2010

HSN, the multichannel retailer, is staging the largest event marketing campaign in its history and its first foray with a Hollywood partnership of such scale. The partnership, with the upcoming film “Eat Pray Love,” spans products exclusive to the story line of the film. The movie, which debuts Aug. 13, spins the tale of a woman’s journey through India, Italy and Bali to reconnect with her inner self. The partnership also includes exclusive film clips and interviews, all supported by a robust marketing campaign.

Bill Brand, the executive vice president of programming, marketing and business development at HSN, lays out the details.

PROMO: Why did you choose “Eat Pray Love” as your first Hollywood film partner?
BRAND: We identified the film as a great vehicle to really drill down and appeal to our female audience. We know they love the book. Oprah endorsed it and they love the personal journey that Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) took us on. We looked at it to say, where does shopping fit in and for us it all made sense.

PROMO: You have created 72 hours of original programming on Aug. 6, 7, and 8 featuring the unique product themed around the movie. What products have you developed for this promotion?
BRAND: We looked at the story and then looked at our brands and designers and started to connect them to the story. For example, Lancome Paris created a line of “Eat Pray Love” lip colors and we brought in tortellini from Bologna. Jewelry and fashion and almost every HSN category will be covered in this three-day event. We have 20 brands and about 400 unique items over these 72 hours all contexted by “Eat Pray Love.”

PROMO: How did the partnership come about?
BRAND: We started about a year ago and we decided we wanted to put a stake in the ground around the Hollywood community. We’ve been focused on transforming the brand from a traditional shopping network to a lifestyle programmed, editorial commerce channel. We have 5 million active customers—about 85% are women—so we have this ability to reach a very hard to reach marketing base and that’s appealing to a lot of our marketing partners. Our CEO and myself made a trip to Hollywood and were introduced by producer Elaine Goldsmith Thomas to several heads of Hollywood studios. We said, here’s our opportunity and Sony Pictures said that sounds like a really cool thing to explore. But it had to be the right story to make sense. It needs to be authentic and feel very credible and we think this is.

PROMO: What other elements make up the three-day event?
BRAND: We are working with Sony to identify movie clips and interviews that will all be contexted in this “Eat Pray Love” journey.

PROMO: How are you marketing the event?
BRAND: At the heart of this is a marketing play, we want our customers to immerse themselves in the content and then go see the movie. For the weeks leading up to the event we have promos talking about the event and providing a glimpse of the product assortment. At HSN.com we’ll have movie trailers and a place for people to sign up for e-mails. On our mobile phone app there is a promotional area for people to get them familiar with the story and provide them first opportunities to make purchases. We will send 500,000 travel logs directly to HSN customers (July 20). Some 350,000 jewelry guides will also be mailed out. The event will be on the cover of our program guide that goes to 1.5 million people. And our newsletter distributed to 500,000 HSN cardholders and Mastercard holders will be dedicated to “Eat Pray Love” to drive excitement and to tune into the event. We’re also marketing directly to the entire employees base to get them excited and to help them understand everything there is to know about “Eat Pray Love.”

PROMO: Are you running any external advertising?
BRAND: We have full-page ads in Lucky and Elle, a cross channel promotion and a shopping event will air on many cable channels leading up to this. Social media, including Twitter and Facebook, are working in sync with this plan.

PROMO: Have you read the book?
BRAND: Yes, I read it when it first came out and I can’t wait to see the movie.