Let’s start with confessions.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to sit down and watch TV very often. It’s not that there aren’t great options out there. I usually love it when I do it. Confession: I have an addiction to productivity. I just have to call it what it is.
When my husband says, “Want to watch something on Netflix?” I’m torn. I like my husband. I like to spend time with him. AND I feel compelled to accomplish something in that two hours, not sit still on a couch being entertained.
It’s gotten so bad that now he refuses to start a new series with me because if he has to wait for me to sit down, we will be stuck in that series for years.
I love to read but these days my Goodreads book list is full of audiobooks because while I’m “reading” I can also get something else done at the same time. And heck, even those audiobooks are mostly non-fiction business books, because then I’m reading, learning AND getting something else done! It’s like 3x productivity points!
(I know, I know. I already have a therapist. I’m working on it.)
So this time of year, I am in a battle with myself. Which brings us to Confession #2: I love Hallmark Christmas movies. My whole family loves them. And I mean we love them, as in we pay actual dollars to the cable company for two months every year just to watch these movies. Then we cancel cable again.
It’s not what you think.
A lot of my friends are surprised we love Hallmark Christmas movies, so I feel like I have to explain. If you sat in our living room with us while we watch Hallmark movies, you might not think we love them. It sounds a lot like heckling, but I promise you it’s love.
We pause at the three-minute mark and take bets on the plot.
We shout out predicted lines before the characters say them.
When two cute strangers bump into each other carrying coffee (never spilling it on their fabulous coats), we yell things like, “Yay! You’re getting married soon!”
But our love for these movies is sincere. Are Hallmark movies predictable? Yes. Is the writing cringy sometimes? Yes, oh yes, it is. Do we care? No!
Why is that? What is this power Hallmark movies have over me? While fourth-quarter revenue goals and client deadlines are pulling me in one direction, my Hallmark Channel app is telling me that “Christmas Under the Stars” premieres tonight at 8 pm/7c! It’s brand new! And suddenly I’m reorienting my whole evening plan. AGH.
(Yes, the Hallmark Channel has an app. You’re welcome.)
Productivity Addiction, meet Hallmark.
In an effort to defend myself (mostly to myself), this is what I came up with to explain the magical pull of Hallmark movies. “Hallmark movies work for the same reason great marketing works: they’re clear and simple, and our brains crave clarity.”
“Clear and simple marketing” is something I preach all the time in my work. Humans hate being confused. Give your audience a clear and compelling message and they’ll follow you anywhere. It’s true. It works.
And that’s when it hit me. The Hallmark Channel has a lot to teach us about marketing, actually. Think about it. From simple truths in (very) simple plot lines, to a website that is overflowing with content for fans, the Hallmark Channel has basically put an entire country under a Christmas spell.
Hallmark is brilliant. And totally worth studying, don’t you think?
So if you need a justification for all the time you’re spending with Hallmark, or if you just want to study the mad-genius that is the Hallmark empire, grab your favorite beverage and snacks, and join me on the couch.
We might learn a branding lesson from the cute uncle in “The Most Wonderful Time of Year” (2008), or look at the value of mission statements in “Merry and Bright” (2019). We might even do an analysis of the marketing strategies on Hallmark.com for bonus points.
Let’s make the most of this time of year, shall we?
P.S. “Write Before Christmas” premieres tonight at 8 pm/7c. And no, I’m not getting any money from Hallmark. I just care about you and don’t want you to miss it.
*Dear IRS, I was kidding. I’m not listing my cable bill as a business expense. I do think I could make a pretty good case for it, actually, but the truth is you scare me. And I’m a wimp.