Marketers should take note of how the Home Shopping Network is using the popularity of the upcoming movie, Eat Pray Love, to cultivate an audience for its products.

With many fans eagerly awaiting the August 13 release of the film Eat Pray Love starring Julia Roberts, a number of businesses are trying to leverage the movie to attract consumers to their websites, but one brand in particular seems to succeed in blurring the line between the film’s content and its commerce. Marketers should take note of how the Home Shopping Network is using the popularity of the upcoming movie to cultivate an audience for its products.

The HSN website looks almost like a fan page for the book and film, allowing visitors to view the trailer and sporting pictures of the cities featured in the movie. There is also a special Eat Pray Love tab on the site that takes consumers to an even more detailed page, positioning products with quotes from the film.

The site explains that HSN will be launching a weekend worth of Eat Pray Love-inspired programming on its television network. HSN promises to take viewers on a journey through Italy, India and Bali – mirroring Liz Gilbert’s travels in the film. It explains, “the event features some of your favorite brands showcasing new discoveries in the spirit of the countries and characters of Eat Pray Love.”  

Online shoppers can get a sneak peak at the products – and the movie – by visiting the individual country pages on the HSN Eat Pray Love site. The Italy page features a video of the author discussing the pleasures of food, as well as clips of Julia Roberts eating in the film. Pasta makers, gelato makers and other products are available for purchase right on the page. On the site’s India page, there is a film clip of a spiritual adviser telling Liz to “pick her thoughts as she picks her clothes,” and female fans can pick Indian-inspired clothes as the page points them to dresses, skirts and countless accessories. Finally, the Bali page features a quote from Gilbert: “Endless days of sandals, slouchy bags and lip gloss. There’s a reason they call this paradise.” Again, the way HSN frames the content from the film perfectly lends itself to selling its products.

While it remains to be seen how many will tune in to this weekend’s Eat Pray Love programs or how many sales HSN will make as a result of the campaign, early buzz indicates the network could have a winner. Aside from wanting to catch clips from the movie, consumers seem genuinely interested in what HSN has to offer. One shopper commented on an HSN blog post about the weekend television event, “I can’t wait to see the jewelry from India!” 

The takeaway point for marketers is that popular content should not merely be used as a means of attracting consumers to a site; the content must be given context to effectively promote products. HSN uses Eat Pray Love to tell a story about its merchandise, making the campaign appealing to the film’s select audience and a broader demographic.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.