HSN Rebrands To Shake Dowdy Image

Shopping Network Looks to Hook Digital, Fashion-Conscious Consumers

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It's been 28 years since HSN first debuted, cultivating a reputation for past-their-prime celebrities hawking cubic-zirconium baubles to housewives. But today it's a starkly different business, with partners including the likes of Coca-Cola, Disney and –- and HSN wants consumers to know that.

HSN ad
HSN ad

To that end, this month the network launches a rebranding, complete with new tagline, an upbeat campaign from Deutsch NY and a makeover of everything from packaging and fonts to sets and scripts, with the goal of reaching people who may not have shopped the network before. The new tagline, "It's fun here," replaces "There's no place like … HSN."

HSN may have pioneered televised sales of consumer products, but now it's working overtime to embrace the digital and mobile space, which accounts for about 40% of all sales. More than half of all new customers are coming in through digital platforms.

"We have a very loyal customer base," said Bill Brand, chief marketing and business development officer at HSNi, parent company of HSN. "It was really time to introduce [the brand] to like-minded women who either aren't aware of HSN or their impressions of HSN were dated.

"We'll end the first half of this year with record high new customer numbers," Mr. Brand continued. "The challenge is assimilating them and making them a part of this experience. We're very proud of those new customers, but we'll be more proud a year from now, if we've been able to keep them shopping with us."

While HSN Inc. reported $3.3 billion in sales last year, up 6%, it's still well behind its much-bigger rival, QVC, which saw sales rise 3% to $8.5 billion in 2012.

HSN spent just $7.5 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media. But Mr. Brand says its budget will increase in 2013, with an emphasis on digital, including search and display. Creative from Deutsch also includes print.

Ads use more saturated color, a dose of humor and focus on building the HSN brand, rather than allowing various celebrities to define it. It was important to establish what HSN stood for—and what it didn't stand for, said Jonathan Johnson, senior VP-creative director.

"We wanted to try to make HSN the hero," Mr. Johnson said. "A couple of years ago it was about a lot of celebrity. We did fashion events, but they didn't really feel fashion forward or relevant. If you look at what we're doing today…we've evolved."

Today, customers can play online games at HSN's Arcade, competing for prizes and a chance to appear on the leaderboard, as well as participate in Google+ hangouts. The Arcade alone has doubled the amount of time consumers spend on the site, as well as increased how much money they spend, according to Mr. Brand.

Customers also receive purchases in clever, upgraded packaging, adorned with phrases like, "Look what you got!" All new customers also receive a thank-you note introducing them to the HSN brand. For those that opt in, a series of emails will welcome new customers to the fold.

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