This story first appeared in the April 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Disney wants home shoppers to go to the movies.
The studio has partnered with HSN in a unique deal to market three upcoming female-skewing films: Maleficent, Cinderella and The Hundred-Foot Journey. The retailer previously has held one-off movie collaborations, including with Disney for Oz the Great and Powerful, but the new two-year, three-film agreement marks the first such collaboration for both parties.
HSN will kick off its new partnership May 27 with a 24-hour programming event for Maleficent, featuring a collection of clothes, jewelry and home accessories in the spirit of Angelina Jolie’s villainous sorceress. “We’re not a network that just runs 30-second spots,” HSN Inc. chief marketing officer Bill Brand tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re about content-driven retail. That’s the beauty of our business model.”
Disney welcomed HSN’s fashion director and other executives on set to gather inspiration for the movie’s aesthetics via conversations with the art department, costume designers and other crew members. That intel was shared with HSN’s merchandise and marketing teams, as well as its go-to designers, who put together an exclusive collection comprising curated items as well as products designed specifically for the event. “There’s a gorgeous collar that Heidi Daus created in the spirit of the movie,” Brand says. “This is truly an embedded partnership.” (Check back later for an exclusive Pret-a-Reporter gallery featuring more items from HSN’s Maleficent collection.)
The collection will be available on HSN.com starting May 7. Following the 24-hour launch event later that month, HSN will air Countdown to Maleficent specials in primetime every night leading up to the film’s May 30 release. Although HSN and Disney are still working out specifics—which will include content across HSN’s television, online and mobile platforms—they indicate that the programming will build upon the precedent set by their Oz partnership, which featured props, set pieces and trailers from the film as well as appearances by star Mila Kunis and the movie’s makeup artist.
HSN’s Oz collaboration was its best movie-related event to date, selling out more than 100 of its 400-product collection across 50 brands. The retailer also has partnered with Disney (via its DreamWorks distribution deal) for The Help, Universal for Snow White & The Huntsman and Sony for Eat, Pray, Love.
“Some would consider them just a retailer, but they really are a great marketer with their TV and digital platforms,” Disney vp of global promotions Don Gross tells THR. “The opportunity to bring viewers behind the scenes via fashion or things for your home really lent itself to creating amazing collections that are inspired by the movie.”
Partnering with HSN helps studios further engage the retailer’s over-30 female audience. HSN is planning a culinary-focused event for the August release of The Hundred-Foot Journey (which Disney is distributing through its DreamWorks deal), starring Helen Mirren as a French restaurateur. And next spring HSN will launch shopping events centered around Disney’s live-action Cinderella adaptation.
“Working with Disney makes us current and relevant,” Brand says. HSN’s Hollywood collaborations are part of the retailer’s ongoing push to broaden beyond its reputation as a home shopping network. Earlier this year the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based company opened an office in Los Angeles and signed with marketing agency United Entertainment Group to explore opportunities to integrate entertainment and retail.