Elizabeth Gilbert’s gastro-spiritual bestseller Eat, Pray Love has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. The publishing phenomenon has led Gilbert to Oprah's couch (twice), to TED's stage, to the New York Times bestseller list (177 weeks and counting) and to being optioned by Julia Roberts the producer for a movie starring Julia Roberts the actress, which opens August 13th.
Sony, the film’s producer, wants to tap into the female market—30-50 year old women with disposable income specifically—to buy movie tickets and more EPL-branded merchandise, so it's teaming with Home Shopping Network in an unprecedented promotional partnership. HSN describes it as a "complete takeover" of the network.
HSN will devote 72 hours of airtime starting August 6, with each day devoted to products related to India, Italy, and Bali in a themed stunt pegged to the movie's opening. The goal, naturally: to have fans of the book tune in and buy merchandise. Conveniently, 83% of HSN viewers fit the EPL target demo.
"With a reach of more than 95 million homes, HSN's core audience is a perfect fit for the target audience we know is eager and excited to see our film," comments George Leon, Sony Pictures EVP of worldwide consumer marketing, to Variety.
On top of traditional media buys of print, TV and online ads, HSN will leverage its website, mobile app, direct mailers and other touchpoints with its audience. HSN will also hype the pic through "TV spots, print ads in Glamour, Elle and other magazines, as well as online ads, PR and events. A 16-page travel journal will be sent to 500,000 women.”
Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, HSN has been tracking female-skewed movies for some time in a strategic effort to woo those viewers to watch and buy. Following a network overhaul in 2006 which brought celebrity chefs Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Todd English and home decorators Nate Berkus and Colin Cowie to the cabler, HSN is adding original entertainment features to its hard-core sell programming.
"We've taken that philosophy and applied it to as many categories as we can. We're a television network and series of platforms and we work at creating compelling experiences that makes a woman want to watch and extend her length of tune in with us. Those are the same principles traditional networks use," Bill Brand, HSN's EVP programming, marketing and business development, tells Variety.
But, he continues, "we have to be picky. [A film] needs to be about building a robust collection that supports the movie but also supports the shopping experience."
To that end, the channel will sell more than 400 products in the lead-up to EPL's movie launch, including prayer beads, pasta makers, beauty, electronics, home decor, travel, cooking, jewelry, accessories and ready-to-wear.
Among the 20 HSN partners and brands included in the massive campaign are: Naeem Khan, Robin by Me & Ro, Rebecca Moses, Padma Lakshmi, Lancome, RK by Ranjana Khan, Hutton Wilkinson, Carleton Varney, Sony Electronics, Nicky Butler, V by Eva, Tagliamonte, Sajen Silver, Dalia, Clever Carriage, Casa di Francesca and Sarita Handa. Lancome, for which Roberts is a spokeswoman, will sell its lip glosses as part of the promotion.
In her own words, Gilbert believes, "You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings."
In this unprecedented marketing ménage a trois — a book, a cable network, and a movie — it remains to be seen what blessings will be manifest, but one thing is certain: the promotional campaign will be relentless.