KDAF News Explains Why More Is More

[vzaarthumb:855331] Tribune’s CW affiliate in Dallas created a promo campaign that skillfully blended cutting-edge references to on-demand coverage and social media with an in-your-face attitude, lightened by flashes of wit and plenty of attitude.

Great advertising sometimes comes from inspiration, other times from necessity. But it was anger that won the Promax Local Gold Award for “Best News/Information Program Spot” for Tribune’s CW affiliate KDAF Dallas (DMA 5). Anger plus opportunity.

“Our sales department gave us a 60-second spot inside a Cowboys game on Christmas Night,” recalls Roger Vertrees, director of innovation and imagination for The CW33. “We’ve made a lot of changes in our news, so we wanted to re-educate the audience that we had a newscast at 5 and 9 p.m.” With guaranteed access to a huge football audience, Vertrees huddled with Promotion and Brand Manager Bob Dickinson. And that’s where the anger comes in.

“I was tired of writing spots about how our news was ‘fast-paced’ or ‘live and local,’” says Dickinson, who was also fed up with the station’s last-place newscast doubling as a punching bag for the local TV critic. So channeling his inner Howard Beale, Dickinson let the copy pour out of him, finally crafting a machine gun monolog that blended cutting-edge references to on-demand coverage and social media with an in-your-face attitude, lightened by flashes of wit and plenty of attitude (“We text. We Tweet. And we’d love to see you socially…”) Whew!


To interpret the breathless copy, Dickinson chose Dallas-based announcer Bruce Bonnheim, then married the result to a track from the Non-Stop Music Library. But how do you illustrate a script packed with so many disparate ideas? You make the language come alive by animating the text itself. Vertrees and Dickinson scoured the Internet for the best examples, including a popular commercial for the Ford F150 truck.

Right away, KDAF Art Director Jennifer Harmon storyboarded the entire script line by line. But animating nearly every frame of a full 60-second spot is a Herculean task. Having secured the blessing of Carrie King, regional VP of innovation and imagination, Harmon teamed with Tribune’s Senior Motion Designer Bernard Ong to divide the animation duties. With little more than a week before the Christmas deadline, they labored like Santa’s elves, using Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects to animate every word, icon and punctuation mark.


The result was an instant hit in-house and around town. Staffers and even viewers posted it on their Facebook pages. The promo was so well-received that Vertrees quickly made it a template for a full-blown image campaign called “Here’s Why,” as in “here’s why you should watch.”

In addition to 30-second cut-downs of the :60, the team produced a series of targeted :30s, :20s, :10s and station ID’s to showcase both the 5 and 9 p.m. News33HD newscasts as well as the main anchors and weather.


The campaign also grew to include radio spots, Web banners and even outdoor ads featuring the same eye-catching typography, super-graphics and copy (“We Color Outside The Lines”).

Almost a year later, the campaign has just recently stopped running, but the station is already working to refresh it, this time adding spots for their new morning show, Eye Opener DFW.

Looking back, Dickinson believes they hit their target — twice. “The task was to create a spot that caters to our core younger demo but doesn’t exclude the older news viewer. Both groups appreciate honesty.”

Harmon agrees, adding: “Our marketing purpose was to get younger viewers to realize how different we are and that our news is worth watching.”

Market Share/PromaxBDA Gold salutes the best on-air promotion throughout North America, many of them winners of Local Awards from the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas. Read other stories in the series here.Contributing Editor Arthur Greenwald, himself a veteran promotion manager, profiles these winning campaigns and the creative and strategic talent behind them. Want to suggest other future topic? Write to Arthur at [email protected]

Comments (12)

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Matthew Castonguay says:

October 25, 2011 at 8:25 am

So, how are the ratings?

Brandon Bailey and Michael Liedtke says:

October 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

How does a CW affiliate get a Cowboys game on Christmas night?

Melissa Pollak says:

October 25, 2011 at 9:13 am

Great campaign!

Nicole Evatt says:

October 25, 2011 at 10:55 am


Matthew Craft & David K. Randall says:

October 25, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thanks for the questions. As reported by TV Newscheck, last year Tribune secured rights for a limited number of NFL games for its stations:

Regarding ratings, in the month following the campaign’s debut, KDAF’s news ratings jumped sharply – as much as 36% among W 25-54. However the numbers have settled back down since then. But the promos resulted in much greater awareness and more frequent sampling and given them much to build on in the upcoming campaign reboot.

    john miller says:

    October 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Settled down back? I’d say. Year to year KDAF’s 5p and 9p are down nearly 40%. All you did is make Dallas “aware” that KDAF’s news is a joke.

    Michael Ford says:

    October 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Honey Badger? Any relation to Honey West? BTW, their 9pm was nominated for an Emmy this year, along with the promo campaign…some joke!

    len Kubas says:

    October 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    “much higher awareness” followed by the inevitable decline in ratings as the reality of the news content sunk in?

Hop Litzwire says:

October 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

OK…left wondering after my eyes settled down from viewing promo’s. Did viewership and sales increase for this station in their news hours?

Hop Litzwire says:

October 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Aren’t increased sales and viewership the goal of a very expensive campaign like this one?

Vickii Howell says:

October 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Fantastic! That is pure local gold.

john miller says:

October 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

The Honey Badger doesn’t care about Emmy nominations. Fact – ratings have declined. Fact – Rebecca’s belt is a liiiiitle too high.

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