PromaxBDA: Holiday/Special Event Excellence

This is the fourth in a series of articles previewing the finalists in the 2013 PromaxBDALocal Awards competition. The winners will be announced at the PromaxBDA Station Summit on June 27 in Las Vegas. This week’s category is Holiday/Special Event Promotion. The finalists are KDFW Dallas; KXAN Austin, Texas; KING Seattle; WMAQ Chicago; and CP24 Toronto. 

The PromaxBDALocal Awards Holiday/Special Event Promotion category includes any video-based promotional material created to promote the brand image of a local station or content platform associated with or using a holiday or special event theme.

How many street performers can you squeeze into a Toronto news truck? Enough to make a promo that makes it as a PromaxBDA finalist.

Buskerfest is Toronto’s wild and wacky street performer festival that’s free to the public and CP24, a 24-hour local news channel in Toronto, is the exclusive broadcast partner.

“The talent at Buskerfest is unique and interesting,” says David Johnson, VP creative and promotion for CP24. “We did live weather and lots of reports from the event. It’s a great place to be seen and to get in front of the public.”

The spot to promote the event mixes fantasy and wonder as seen through a child’s eyes.

This year’s Buskerfest achieved its biggest attendance ever, a 20% increase from the year before, according to Johnson.


A major international sporting event is coming to your town. More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the event, the first of its kind.

So how do you make it appear as if your local TV news operation owns the story?

“We started promoting our coverage early and exclusively,” says Deirdre Conley, creative director for KXAN, LIN Media’s NBC affiliate in Austin, Texas.

“Our brand is that we provide in-depth coverage with more access and perspective. And this was a huge story touching every part of town.”

The event was the first Formula 1 race ever in Austin at the Circuit of the America’s 3.4 mile race track, built just for the event.

A former TV news director and local Austin blogger headlined the coverage: “KXAN Clear Winner in Formula One Race Coverage.” To read the entire article, go here.

But when Conley’s team sat down to create the promotion, they had some challenges. There was no video, it being the first event of its kind, and Formula 1 racing was very strict about using any of its footage.

“All we had were renderings of the new track,” Conley says. But add a few stock still shots, a little imagination, and the power of After Effects, and voila, Conley’s pit team created a promo that feels as if it’s moving more than 200 MPH.

Share for the pre-race time period (7-9 a.m.) on Saturday was up 2 points over the average, according to KXAN while share for the pre-race time periods (9-10 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) on Sunday was up 10 points over the average.

But what do you do when you have to promote an event that you’ve done for 10 or 11 years?

“We’re always trying to look at every project and ask — what haven’t we done,” says John Kukla, creative services director for KDFW, the Fox O&O in Dallas.

“It’s nice to have an assignment that allows our producers to stretch their imagination a bit.”

To promote the morning show’s yearly costume contest, the team tapped morning weathercaster Fiona Gorostiza as a damsel in distress being chased by a hockey-mask wearing stalker in the bowels of the station. And she posted the spot and some behind-the-scene shots on her Facebook page, giving the contest some added publicity.

Perhaps no event is more well-known, followed and promoted than the Olympics.

So how do you tie your station’s brand to the Olympics in a way that’s new and fresh?

At KING, the Belo NBC in Seattle, they celebrated the striving for excellence.

“Behind every Olympic athlete is a mom and a dad,” says Cherylynne Crowther, KING’s director of integrated creative services. 

“KING news is known for storytelling, so we focused on the story behind the story of how the Olympic athletes got there.”

KING hired a cinematographer to shoot the spots using a Canon 5-D DSLR, and also used an underwater rig to get the swimming shots at the lake and pool. The music was an adaptation of the custom score composed for KING’s 2011 image campaign. 

Seattle Magazine mentioned swimmer Nathan Adrian’s parents in an article saying, “the sprinter brought home two golds and a silver to proud parents Cecilia and Jim — whose own darling “Tiger Mom” KING-TV commercial had us crushing on them a bit, too.”

You hear a song whose lyrics and melody are perfect for a station promo. But you know that getting the rights are complicated and expensive. So what do you do?

If you’re Jay Wadhwa, manager of creative services and brand marketing at NBC-owned WMAQ Chicago, you try anyway.

“It really was as simple as identifying the company, reaching out, and working the phone chain,” Wadhwa says. “Many times, if the label is relatively small, they’re quite accommodating.”

The World of Chicago is WMAQ’s over-arching brand that has a lot of legs, according to Wadhwa. “Chicago is a city of neighborhoods that make up our world.”

For a holiday promotion, WMAQ used the song and the concept of a snow globe. The spots were created in Cinema 4D and After Effects using some skyline shots of Chicago, city scenes and video of their talent, all shot with the Canon 5-D tricked out with several lenses.

“We went to places we knew were holiday locations,” Wadhwa says. “The song really sells the idea and tells the story. We couldn’t have done this with production music.”

Wadhwa says there were some restrictions to the use of the “Snow Globe” music in the spots.

“But we also offered to graphically add the artist’s name and song title and they were thrilled.”

Editor’s note: This next entry was also a finalist in the Copywriting category and this review appeared in that category’s summary as well.

Toronto’s Pride Parade is held during the end of June each year. CP24, a 24-hour local news channel in Toronto, carries the event live.  To highlight the various meanings the word “pride” has for people in the city, CP24 created this spot that asked, what does pride mean to you?

“We did create specific parade coverage spots,” says David Johnson, VP creative and promotion for CP24, “so this spot was intended to spark a conversation.”

“The shoot was a very ambitious undertaking,” he says. “We used a small crew that gave us mobility to shoot in live situations, quickly and efficiently.” 

CP24 has been using the theme, ‘what does pride mean to you?’ for four years. “With this new campaign, we set out to show the diversity of people across the city,” Johnson says. “The spot drove solid ratings on the channel and brand recognition. The event itself attracted an amazing 1.2 million people.”

Market Share by Paul Greeley is all about marketing and promotion at TV stations and appears every Monday. Read other Market Share columns here. If you have some ideas or stories you want to share, please let me know. You can reach Paul Greeley at [email protected] or at 817-578-6324.

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